When it comes to professional laptops, HP isn't playing games. The company isn't interested in fancy features or alternative designs—its simply out to make a product that delivers. Inside and out, that philosophy is clear in the HP ZBook 14, which the vendor claims is "the world's first workstation ultrabook."
Weighing just 3.57 pounds and measuring 0.83 inches thin, the ZBook 14 is quite the mobile machine. The notebook was a breeze to carry around in my shoulder bag for the past week or so, and wasn't a pain to pull out either. The fact that HP ensured that its workstation ultrabook was built with premium materials certainly helped.
The ZBook 14 comes in a gray brushed aluminum finish on its lid surrounded by black soft touch paint accents and a classy chrome HP logo front and center. Smooth magnesium coats the laptop keyboard deck in an almost gunmetal hue, surrounding a chiclet-style, backlit and spill-resistant keyboard with matte plastic keys replete with drain to offset liquid damage.
To please the veteran business users, HP included a gray rubber pointing stick between the G, H and B keys with two dedicated buttons just below the spacebar. Most users will be served just fine by the snappy, smooth touchpad with firm physical buttons.
Above the keyboard is a 14-inch, 1920 x 1080 LED screen that users can upgrade with 10 point multi-touch capability. Look even further up, and you'll find a 720p webcam—both of which are surrounded by a black magnesium bezel wrapped by a thick bumper of rubber.
Unfortunately, the ZBook 14 doesn't keep to a consistent aesthetic: The underside is made of a black magnesium and the soft touch paint on the lid is off putting. This pro laptop is no Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga or 15-inch MacBook Pro in terms of style. (The latter is seeing more and more play in the business world.)
Easy access? On a laptop? Blasphemy!
Despite its boring plastic construction, this ultrabook's undercarriage has a terribly useful feature: easy removal for access to the laptop's innards. Coined by HP as the "Easy Access Door," this allows for easy upgrades to this ZBook 14's 240GB solid-state drive, 16GB of DDR3 RAM and more.
Held by one simple-but-sturdy sliding lock, this should come in especially handy for the business user or IT pro when hardware issues rear their ugly heads. But there's more to be said of a feature like this: HP is focused on function more so than form, for a product that would be the most useful for business-class users.
The ZBook 14 might not turn heads at the local coffee shop or on your cross-country flight, but thanks to a solid design—take the stiff, sturdy hinges, for instance—it will prove to be a reliable workhorse. HP made sure of that with some serious specs focused on one thing: enterprise performance.