Let's be honest: most mobile workstations are too heavy (and ugly) to comfortably carry around. These powerful and expensive devices typically weigh more than five pounds (2.26 kg) and they look as boxy and boring as the laptops in '80s sci-fi films. Luckily, HP has done its part to save the mobile workstation industry from itself with the new, improved and gorgeous HP ZBook 14 G2 ($1,779, £1,966, AU$2,492).
Competing against slightly larger mobile workstations, like the 15.5-inch Lenovo ThinkPad W550 and the 15.6-inch Dell Precision M3800, the ZBook 14 is designed for the mobile professional who needs plenty of pop under the hood, as well as a bit of portability and style.
In addition to the three aforementioned Windows devices, the MacBook Pro 13-inch with Retina Display is a lighter, slimmer, more stylish and equally powerful professional device. It all comes down to which specifications suit your needs and how much you're willing to spend.
At just 3.77 pounds (1.71kg) and 0.83 inches (21mm) tall, the ZBook 14 doesn't feel like a mobile workstation. Its closest rivals, the Precision M3800 and the Lenovo W550 are 0.3 pounds (0.13kg) and 2.7 pounds (1.22kg) heavier than the ZBook.
Most other notable mobile workstations, such as the MSI Prestige PE60 2QD, are all in the 5 to 7-pound range. The sleek and stylish MacBook Pro 13-inch weighs an anorexic 3.48lbs (1.58kg), and it is slightly thinner than the ZBook at only 0.71 inches (18mm).
In order to make the ZBook so light, HP relied heavily on a matted black aluminum upper panel, bordered along the edges with rubber and magnesium. This gorgeous design is perfect for a serious no-nonsense machine. If nefarious federal agents carried laptops instead of briefcases in the movies, the HP ZBook 14 G2 would be their device of choice.
The bottom panel is mostly black magnesium, save for four rubber feet that keep the laptop steady on all sorts of surfaces and angles.
With one simple button-click, I was able to remove the bottom panel to gain access to an easily removable battery. More tech-savvy users will love the removable panel, as it gives you easy access to the cooling fan, your processors, as well as your wireless card – should you need to quickly upgrade or replace a damaged item.
The laptop's display is entirely surrounded by black magnesium. Like most HP and Lenovo laptops, the display is surrounded by a thick and unattractive 0.5-1-inch border. Competitors like Dell have begun designing laptops with minimal display border to provide a more cinematic experience. The ZBook has about as "uncinematic" an experience as you can get in terms of screen border.
Despite its dull surroundings, the full HD (FHD), 1,920 x 1,080p screen is bright and colorful. It produces vibrant colors with plenty of detail from a wide range of viewing angles. Even with heavy sunlight overhead, you should be able to enjoy watching a movie, so long as it isn't an incredibly dark film, like Sin City or Citizen Kane.
Unfortunately, the touchscreen is an optional upgrade, and the laptop won't perform any Lenovo-style bends and twists. What you're getting with the standard ZBook 14 G2 is a traditional laptop whose screen can bend back 130-degrees, but can't be manipulated with a finger or stylus.
The standard keyboard base is primarily composed of black aluminum. The backlit keys are made of magnesium and they sit above an aluminum trackpad with two upper and two lower buttons. I find these buttons to be unnecessary.
HP, Dell and Lenovo insist on including the buttons on their professional laptops, despite the fact that most of us are touch-oriented people who scroll and click using only our fingers and a screen on the majority of our personal devices. Although these buttons are superfluous, they don't detract from the ZBook's overall aesthetic and should not be considered a major issue.