There are plenty of small laptops on the market if you want to reduce the weight in your business bag. You could even rig up an Apple iPad or Android tablet with a wireless keyboard to really trim things down. But if you need a serious workhorse machine, that is light, powerful and secure, then the HP EliteBook 850 laptop is for you.
As small business owners make decisions on technology, price is often considered the most important option. There are some very good reasons to consider spending a bit more than the lowest priced machine you can find – let me give you three:
A Laptop That is Easy to Configure
Let me start with my favorite thing about this device (as you can see in the photo below): On the back of the 850 laptop there is a latch which allows you to easily access the components (RAM, hard drive, battery, etc.).
For an IT manager, it’s an invaluable feature that allows quick upgrades or repairs. This may not seem like a big deal, but anyone who has ever tried to open up a laptop knows that this is terrific. Some manufacturers use special, proprietary screws or latches that make these changes difficult, or downright scary, to say the least. Extra points to HP for making this so easy.
The 2013 Symantec Internet Security Threat Report  (PDF) says that small businesses are “the path of least resistance” for attackers. In 2012, half of all targeted attacks were directed at businesses with less than 2,500 employees. But the largest growth area for targeted attacks is businesses with less than 250 employees – accounting for 31 percent of all attacks. [Note: The above link is to the Symantec PDF report which can take a while to download.]
HP’s SureStart technology is designed to catch and stop security breaches before they can get to your data. Without going out of my own tech understanding zone, this technology is part of the firmware loaded at the chip level. It will automatically restore your computer’s Basic Input/Output System (BIOS) within 30 seconds if it is ever attacked or corrupted. You can even install an optional tracing program that will allow you to find a lost or stolen computer.
I have a 3-year business warranty on my current laptop, but it was an additional cost. [Note: my current work machine is not an HP but the principle applies here.] I have used the on-site service option two or three times so far and this is from a well-known manufacturer.
Things go wrong, that’s life. However, I want to know that I’m not shelling out more cash for fixing a machine that should work for at least three years. HP has gone above and beyond by making this warranty a standard “feature.”
Things I Really Like:
- Intel® Core™ i7-4600U processor (Here is a link to a site that does speed checks , not an HP site.)
- 8GB of memory (Expandable, of course).
- 180GB SSD (Keeps it cooler and quieter, in my experience, but you’ll likely need a backup drive when you fill this up.)
- 15.6 inch screen, full HD display (1920 x 1080).
- Backlit keyboard (This comes in handy in low light situations, of course.)
- 4 USB ports.
- The keyboard is made of aluminum and the rest of the machine is made out of magnesium, so that makes it a lot more durable than the usual plastic. I did not do any “drop tests.”
- These machines start at $814 for the base model. You can see the various models, prices and configurations  at the main HP site, then click the “configure” button to see different options.
Things I’d Like to See:
Aside from Sure Start, it has a fingerprint reader so you can lock down the machine to a specific user, which is cool in a lot of ways – no password to remember, for one.
But, I would like to see this moved away from where your hand rests because I kept thinking I’d trigger it to lock the machine. To be fair, I didn’t have this happen, but I kept thinking about it and this is my personal quirk, to be sure. Thankfully, it is to the far right side.
All in all, this is a great machine. If you are in the market for a lightweight laptop, the HP EliteBook 850 is worth a serious look.