Just in time for CES 2016 in Las Vegas, HP Inc. this week unveiled the newest generation of its high-end, business-focused EliteBook laptop series. The EliteBook Folio, EliteBook 1040 G3 and the new EliteBook 800 G3 represent HP's bid to make a name for itself since its recent split from HP’s enterprise unit -- and to compete directly with Apple’s MacBook Air.
The 12.5-inch EliteBook Folio (pictured) is designed for portability, with a non-touch 12.5-inch 1080p display and additional 1080p and 4K touchscreen options. It runs a 1.1 GHZ dual-core Intel Core m5-6Y54 processor, has 8 GB RAM, and a 128 GB solid-state drive. Its dual USB-C ports are compatible with Thunderbolt 3.
The Folio also comes with 802.11a/b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.2, a full-size backlit keyboard and a gesture-enabled clickpad for Windows 10. Available in both home and pro versions, the Folio will ship in March with a starting price of $999.
HP calls the EliteBook 1040 G3 and the new EliteBook 800 G3 the world’s thinnest business-class notebooks. Both computers contain sixth-generation Intel Core vPro processors with vPro, PCIeGen3 SSD and DDR4 RAM. The EliteBook 800 series is available in 12.5-inch, 14.0-inch or 15.6-inch diagonal HD, FHD, QHD or UHD screens. For graphics, the 800 G3 offers users three screen sizes and four levels of screen sharpness up to UHD, and comes with either a FHD or QHD screen.
All three devices come with audio by Bang & Olufsen, HP Noise Reduction Software and HP Clear Sound Amp, which HP said enhances the use of communications applications such as Skype for Business. For security, the new models offer HP Client Security Software Suite, certified TPM (Trusted Platform Module), enhanced BIOS-level protection with HP Sure Start with Dynamic Protection and an optional hardened fingerprint reader.
New options for both HP Elite series machines include the HP Notebook Power Bank, which can charge an HP notebook and two additional mobile devices at the same time. HP is also offering optional carrying cases and travel docks.
Does the new line of HP laptops have what it takes to compete with the MacBook? We reached out to Jan Dawson, chief analyst for Jackdaw Research, to ask his opinion. He said that with the combination of Windows 10 and new Intel chips, Windows laptops are finally starting to match MacBook performance in areas such as battery life and form factor.
"This new HP laptop looks like another example of this closing of the gap on physical specs with Apple's laptops, although I would expect Apple to move ahead again with its next generation of MacBooks over the coming months," said Dawson. "What is clear is that these new devices are more compelling and more competitive than past entries from some of the big makers, and HP is also making clear that it's in this game to win it, unlike some of the other vendors, which are mulling exiting the PC business."
The HP EliteBook 1040 G3 has a starting price of $1,199 and is expected to go on sale later this month. Also available this month, the EliteBook 800 G3 will start at $949.