- Review Date: 05/25/11
- Bottom line:
The HP EliteBook 8560p is a powerhouse business laptop, as its 15.6-inch widescreen and top of the line parts are there for powering through the most difficult tasks--and a modern look doesn't hurt either.
Powerful Intel second-gen components. Extensive security and wireless feature set. Aluminum chassis. Glass touchpad. Bright, high-resolution widescreen. USB 3.0 and eSATA equipped.
AMD graphics doesn't offer that big of a lift in graphics power. Less than 4 hours of battery life is mediocre these days.
While most professionals are tempted by an ultraportable that can be tucked under their arm or into a small tote, there's simply no substitute for a desktop replacement laptop that can do it all. The HP Elitebook 8560p ($1,499.99 direct) is a powerhouse, as its 15.6-inch widescreen and top-of-the-line parts are there for powering through the most difficult tasks. And a modern look, thanks to a new aluminum design, doesn't hurt either. It could improve a bit in the battery life department, although this business laptop is more office fixture than travelling companion.
The EliteBook 8560p has been redesigned from the ground up. Aluminum, which was used only on the lid and palm rest area in the previous HP EliteBook 8740w ($1,999 direct, 4 stars), is now used throughout. The clean lines, minimal indicator lights, and light silver color make it look eerily similar to the Apple MacBook Pro 15-inch (Thunderbolt) ($2,199 direct, 4 stars), and its flush battery doesn't stick out like the one on the Dell Latitude E6420 ($1,788 direct, 4 stars). The lid isn't as solid and unyielding as that of the Dell E6420 and Lenovo ThinkPad T410 ($1,484 direct, 4 stars), but the vigorous military testing (according to the MIL-SPEC 810G guidelines) that HP puts the 8560p through is reassuring enough. At 6.4 pounds, the 8560p isn't the kind of business laptop you'll want to attend a business conference with. For that, look to the Toshiba Tecra R850 (5.3 pounds), which is over a pound lighter and has a similar 15.6-inch screen.
The panel is intensely bright and matte so that glare is practically non-existent. You can find similar anti-glare panels in the Dell E6420, Lenovo T410, and Toshiba Tecra R850. What makes the colors pop and everything else seem amazingly sharp is the 8560p's 1,600-by-900 resolution. In contrast, the Toshiba R850 and Dell E6420 that we reviewed came with 1,366-by-768 panels (there are options to scale higher) that weren't as pleasing to the eye. The interior of the laptop is overhauled as well. Instead of a traditional keyboard, the flat-top keys are now more in line with the that of the Envys and Pavilions—HP's consumer line. They lack backlights, though, a feature that comes standard with the Dell E6420. There are dual-pointing devices, including a very stiff pointing stick, enormous touchpad, and four large mouse buttons. The touchpad is made of glass, similar in construction to the one that Apple uses. It's cool to the touch, and navigating with it was a real treat.
The feature set is an excellent mix of the old and new. For corporations that rely heavily on legacy devices (and their connectors), the 8560p ships with a Serial port, VGA, FireWire, ExpressCard, and RJ11 modem jack. Security (and ease of access) features such as a SmartCard and fingerprint readers are also present. And of course, there's the future-proof stuff: Among the five USB ports are two that are USB 3.0 (which is roughly 10 times faster than USB 2.0) and one with eSATA. A DisplayPort located in the back can stream both audio and video to an external flat panel. The Dell E6420, on the other hand, uses a similar technology in HDMI. The 8560p has the gamut of wireless connections, including 3G and LTE. An HD webcam, the kind that can display 720p video, is found in its usual spot above the screen.
My review unit came with a 2.7GHz Intel Core i7-2620M—a dual-core processor, not quad core. It's a powerful processor, nonetheless, one that can breeze through any task or several of them at once. That, and the 4GB of memory, helped the 8560p power ferociously through tests like PCMark Vantage and Cinebench R11.5, beating the Dell E6420 and HP 8740w. It trailed the Dell E6420 by a smidge in Photoshop CS5 tests, which means very little in the real world, as both laptops are excellent video and photo editing machines. The 8560p can also switch between two graphics subsystems, though I wouldn't call the AMD Radeon 6470M graphics chip a major step up from Intel's integrated graphics (Sandy Bridge based). Its 3DMark06 (5,477) and Crysis (34.4 fps) scores were mediocre, although it shows that it can perform ably on moderately intensive 3D tasks. Had it used integrated graphics only, as the Dell E6420 did, its battery score could have been better.
The 8560p ships with a 62WH battery (6-cell), which is bigger than what you typically see in this size laptop. Its 3 hours 54 minute MobileMark 2007 score was what you would expect from a desktop replacement. Would you want more battery life from a laptop, say, if you do decide to take a coast to coast flight with it? Of course, which is why HP offers a 9-cell extended battery option ($89). Business laptops like the Dell E6420 (8:30) and Toshiba R850 (6:49) lasted a lot longer because they didn't have to contend with a battery-guzzling graphics chip.
Staying on top of business demands means more than putting in the newest and fastest parts; in addition to its cutting edge components, the HP EliteBook 8560p is a complete redesign, from the all-aluminum chassis to the glass touchpad. It's a trendy-looking, powerful business laptop that could stand to improve its battery life. That's why there's a 14-inch version and business laptops, like the Dell Latitude E6420.