While Apple continues to hone their three current laptop designs (Macbook, Pro and Air) other computer makers are doing their damnedest to play catch-up in the form factor department. HP's latest offering appears to be a direct result of that catch-up and the result is a beautiful Windows-running alternative to the Macbooks.
At this point, all we can say is "it's about time." HP's Elitebook is the first laptop we've seen that actually looks like it can give the super-sleek new unibody Macbook a run for its money. The aluminum and glass computer slips its 12.5" screen in a body that's got a footprint of under 12 inches at its longest. Thinness is also a huge boon to the Elitebook, coming in uniformly under a half inch throughout. For reference, the Macbook is over a half inch at its widest and under a half inch at its thinnest since it tapers from one end to the other. Tapered or not, we're fans of the design and portability of HP’s diminutive laptop.
What's not diminutive about the Elitebook is the power and versatility it boasts. Specs are good, just short of great, across the board with its dual core processing and 8 GBs of RAM. The on-board graphic chipset makes the Elitebook a non-contender for gaming and high-end multimedia creation but it more than suffices for the average user whose focus is mostly casual computing and devouring media. Continuing the similarities between the Elitebook and the Macbook, HP has implemented USB-C for everything from charging the computer itself to hooking in peripherals and storage devices. Unlike the Macbook, there's more than one USB-C port here, a godsend of a difference. USB-C's versatility means charging is a cinch and transfer rates on connected storage devices are lightning fast. Having two of those ports means never having to choose between accessing your files or running the risk of having your computer go dead in the midst of head-down productivity.
HP's Elitebook offers several customization to its specs but none effect regular use as much as the choice between the standard 1080p screen and the optional 4K alternative. It's the difference of a couple hundred bucks, some significant battery usage (4K is a power suck) and an element of crispness that might not be distinguished for movie watching (4K content is still hard to come by) but will be noticeable in terms of the OS backbone of the computer, where reading on 4K is a much better, much easier proposition to your eyes.
The HP Elitebook is the first of what promises to be many computers coming out this year that really put Apple's offerings directly in their crosshairs. As always, competition proves to benefit consumers who are reaping the fruits of these computer wars with better, cheaper, more powerful computers than ever before. If you're about to head off to college or the real world, you can pull the trigger on HP's Elitebook because now the rest of the PC world is catching up with Hewlett Packard.