HP's EliteBook range targets those in need of power and corporate features and the EliteBook 8540w packs both in equal measures.

With its semi-rugged design, it is a highly resilient machine and ideal for demanding use. It has been tested to the MIL-STD 810G standards for resilience to vibration, dust, humidity and high temperatures, so is tough enough for busy work outdoors and at home.

With its magnesium-alloy chassis and brushed-metal finish, the chassis is tough and has bags of style. The sleek design and gun-metal finish look fantastic.

At 3kg, it is light enough for basic travel, but the 224-minute battery life significantly trails the Panasonic Toughbook CF-31.

Thanks to its large 15.6-inch screen, the HP has a spacious keyboard. All keys are firm, responsive and move near silently, making it great to work with. The board is spill-resistant and a tiny LED light in the screen panel illuminates the keys when working in dark conditions.

HP elitebook 8540w

The sharp screen features a Full HD resolution and is ideal for demanding multimedia use. Images are sharp, with strong colour and contrast bringing photos to life. The matt-TFT panel also suppresses reflections well.

Designed as a mobile workstation, it's no surprise that this laptop offers ample power. With its high-end Nvidia Quadro FX 1800M GPU, the HP provides ample graphics power, making it ideal for design and multimedia tasks.

Office performance is also extremely capable and falls in line with the Getac V200 and Panasonic. The cutting-edge Intel Core i7 620M processor and staggering 8192MB of memory run complex office software with ease and make light work of the most demanding daily multi-tasking.

Benchmarks

Battery life: 224 minutes
MobileMark 2007: 259
3D Mark 2003: 21,786

Ample storage

Where the HP also excels is storage. The 500GB hard drive is generous and is backed up by a Blu-ray drive for watching high-definition movie discs.

A 6-in-1 card reader is also in place for accessing the most popular multimedia storage cards. Adding to the security features of this machine, the hard drive is shockmounted and features an accelerometer. This detects when the laptop has been dropped and parks the disk heads, in order to prevent the disk being scratched and causing damage to your data.

While the semi-rugged design of the EliteBook 8540w won't suit the most taxing outdoor use, its tough chassis, great usability and stunning performance make it ideal for busy urban professionals. Packed with style and features, it makes a fantastic rugged workstation.

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