The EliteBook, ProBook b-series, and ProBook s-series

HP has divided their enterprise machines into three different lines. In descending order, they are the EliteBook p-series, the ProBook b-series, and the ProBook s-series. All of the features mentioned on the previous page are integrated into each of these lines, so it's largely a matter of market segmentation.

The EliteBook p-series

HP's big daddy line is the EliteBook p-series. These notebooks will be available in 14-inch and 15.6-inch models.

HP was quite proud to show these off and to be fair, they're mighty attractive. The major differentiators here are a silver outer shell with increased durability inside, designed to be as rugged and durable as possible. Perks include a chemically-strengthened glass touchpad designed to be simultaneously more comfortable and more wear-resistant along with support for HP's Ultra-Capacity notebook battery slate, which HP rates at offering the 14-inch model up to a staggering 32 hours of battery life.

The p-series will come equipped with the new Sandy Bridge processors, but graphics support is somewhat disappointing, topping out at just the AMD Radeon HD 6470M. The 6470M has just 160 stream processors and support for GDDR5, making it feel a bit anemic for such a premium line, but AMD has apparently introduced technology comparable to NVIDIA's Optimus that enables switching between the Sandy Bridge IGP and the dedicated AMD graphics. We hope to get a look at this in the near future.

The EliteBook notebooks start at $999.

The ProBook b-series

Stepping down to the ProBook b-series means moving to a slightly less rugged but still durable shell colored in a gunmetal shade of gray. You still get most of the perks, but HP hasn't announced availability of discrete graphics options for these notebooks. These can be ordered with processors ranging from the top-end Core i7 Sandy Bridge chips down to the lowly Celerons.

HP's ProBook b-series will start at $799 and will be available in 13.3-inch, 14-inch, and 15.6-inch form factors.

The ProBook s-series

One would be tempted to call the s-series the budget line of the bunch, but that's not entirely fair. These notebooks include many of the same design perks of the b-series and EliteBooks, with the primary differentiators seeming to be the latches on the lids and a slightly less generous port selection (upon inspection these looked to be missing FireWire and ExpressCard ports).

The flipside is that HP will be offering discrete graphics in these notebooks, though they haven't announced yet which models will be available except to say they'll be AMD Radeons. They'll also run a larger gamut of sizes, being available in 13.3-inch, 14-inch, 15.6-inch, and 17.3-inch models. Overseas there will be an additional 12.1-inch model, though unfortunately it doesn't look like we'll get to enjoy it in the states. Sales of ultraportables out here are fairly low while the Asian markets tend to eat them up and forego the larger desktop replacement models.

HP's ProBook s-series will start at $579.

Coming in March: HP Updates in a Big Way Conclusion: Back, in Style
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  • GeorgeH - Wednesday, February 23, 2011 - link

    They got rid of the middle mouse buttons!? It probably sounds silly, but for that reason alone I won't even be considering upgrading my current EliteBook to a new one. I've gotten used to the idea that 16x9 is inevitably in my future, but you can have my middle mouse button when you pry it from my cold, dead hands.

    Kudos to them for making the fan easily accessible for cleaning, though; cleaning it is a major PITA in the older models. Also the "p" EliteBooks have always had lousy graphics; the main selling point of the "w" models is the much better GPU.
  • oshogg - Wednesday, February 23, 2011 - link

    My first thoughts exactly. No middle mouse buttons!!! How am I supposed to paste when I VNC into a remote X server session?
  • vol7ron - Wednesday, February 23, 2011 - link

    For my setup, I think it's a double, double-click (pressing the L/R mouse button synchronously, twice).

    I think people that really rely on this feature might consider getting an actual mouse (corded or bluetooth).
  • quiksilvr - Wednesday, February 23, 2011 - link

    See there's this thing, I'm not sure if you heard of it. Called a mouse? It must be difficult, so I will post a link for you:
  • GeorgeH - Wednesday, February 23, 2011 - link

    Gosh, I never knew that. How silly of me to expect a premium laptop marketed for business and power users to be fully featured when you can plug in an external device that'll provide the same functionality.

    You can also get external keyboards, hard drives, optical drives, screens, and networking cards. So let's do away with the 'ctrl' and 'alt' keys, more than 8GB HDDs, optical drives (OK, I actually agree with that one,) color screens, and anything faster than 802.11g. All of those deficiencies can be trivially fixed with external accessories, so what's the big deal?
  • ionis - Wednesday, February 23, 2011 - link

    Even if it did have a middle mouse button, I don't see why you wouldn't use an external mouse. They are extremely cumbersome to use. The only time you can't use one is if you're using your laptop while standing. Otherwise, plug in any laser mouse and you can use just about anything that isn't glass as a mousepad.
  • GeorgeH - Wednesday, February 23, 2011 - link

    I do use external mice; I've actually got 3 (1 fullsize USB, 1 fullsize BT, 1 travel size BT) that I use regularly with my laptop.

    The thing is my laptop spends a lot of its time being used as a laptop, not a portable desktop. If I'm using the laptop away from a convenient desk-like area with lots of room or am just not going to be somewhere for very long, breaking out a mouse can be impractical and annoying. Even when I'm at a desk with a mouse plugged in, I still sometimes use the touchpad simply because it's closer to the keyboard, which means I can select whatever I need to and get back to typing more quickly.

    I understand that many people can't use touchpads effectively, but if you've been forced to use one regularly for years they can be almost as good as real mice. For example, I can play Mass Effect on the hardest difficulty using a touchpad with no issues at all. I'm a little better with a mouse and twitchier (or MP) games widen the touchpad/mouse gulf considerably, but with enough practice touchpads can be very useful.

    That should at least give you some idea why I'd be upset at losing a valuable button on a touchpad, especially when there's absolutely no good reason for it not to be there. HP might be saving a couple of dollars by omitting it, but when I pay a premium for a laptop I expect premium design features, not cost-cutting ones.
  • DanaG - Friday, February 25, 2011 - link

    Here's why I actually 100% prefer touchpad: mice and trackballs give me repetitive strai, and make my hand hurt.

    These new EliteBooks are no longer worthy of being called Elite -- they're fugly, have weaksauce GPUs, and have lost the middle button.
    Apparently their designers must have fingers > 1.5 inches wide.
  • DanaG - Friday, February 25, 2011 - link

    Repetitive strain injury... Carpal tunnel is what you get when that gets too severe.
    God, HP, why do you need (what looks like) 2-inch wide buttons? The 3/4 inch wide buttons on my 8530w are wide enough!
  • MrSpadge - Wednesday, February 23, 2011 - link

    I too love the middle mouse button for "open in new tab" and "close tab".


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