It's not often we take the time to look at high-end mobile workstations, but rarely do they have much to offer beyond being big and powerful. Not so the HP Elitebook 8730w Mobile Workstation. For sure, it is still big and powerful, but it also comes with an RGB LED backlit display that can reproduce the Adobe RGB colour space in full, making it perfect for anyone who does colour-sensitive work.
Due to its high colour display HP has opted to give the 8730w its DreamColor brand treatment, though this shouldn't be confused with the sort of performance offered by the astounding LP2480zx. Nonetheless, as notebooks go an Adobe RGB capable display is about as good as it gets, so there's hardly cause for complaint.
Until you look at the price, that is. At £2,300 this is up with the most expensive notebooks we've ever reviewed, but then considerable processing power, security and a high quality screen was never likely to come cheap and you do get a lot of machine for your money. Starting things off is the Intel Core 2 Duo T9600 that runs at a brisk 2.8GHz and features 6MB L2 Cache. Outside of Intel's Extreme series of processors there's no faster mobile CPU.
This abundance of power is backed by 4GB of DDR2 RAM, though this is a single module so isn't in dual-channel mode. An odd move, you might think, until you realise it means you can upgrade to 8GB whenever you feel like it without wasting the installed memory. For storage there's a 320GB hard drive, which could also be construed as a bit miserly were it not for the fact it's a 7,200rpm drive that's free-fall protected. Graphics processing, meanwhile, is taken care of by an nVidia Quadro FX 2700M with 512MB dedicated memory that should provide plenty of grunt for applications.
As this is a high-end business machine the usual array of security measures apply. This means a Trusted Platform Module for security and encryption wedded to both a smart card reader as well as fingerprint authentication. This is also a vPro certified system, so will play nicely with a corporate network that utilises Intel's management protocols. Network connectivity, meanwhile, is comprehensive. There's gigabit Ethernet for fast wired connections, in addition to Draft-N Wi-Fi for faster and extended range wireless and Bluetooth 2.0+ EDR for seamless connection to mobile devices.
There are four USB ports in total, one on the left, three on the right, and these are joined by an eSATA port, mini-FireWire, a 54mm ExpressCard slot, the Ethernet port, a modem jack, a smart card slot, headphone and microphone jacks and a memory card reader. Only video connectivity could be fairly criticised, since we'd like to see DVI or DisplayPort joining the HDMI and VGA offered here. Moreover, given the size of this machine, there seems little rhyme nor reason to this exclusion - particularly DVI - which is arguably more suitable for connection to external monitors.