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Being a business machine the 8730w sports a demure but classy appearance. Brushed aluminium inside and out certainly lends it a premium feel and contrasts nicely with the matte black plastic used inside. Everything about the machine looks and feels like quality, which is just as well given the price.
Being a substantial piece of kit it's no surprise to see a full-size keyboard, with numeric number pad, dominating proceedings. It's a very good effort, too. Keys have a firm and positive feel to them and the basic layout of the keyboard can't really be faulted. It's still not quite up to ThinkPad levels of refinement, but HP is certainly among the best of the rest in this regard.
Another staple of the business notebook is a combination of touchpad and trackpoint and the 8730w doesn't disappoint here, either. Nestled in the middle of the keyboard is the trackpoint, which is slightly concave to aid control, while the touchpad below is large and accompanied by a trio of satisfyingly chunky, hinged buttons. As is the trackpoint for that matter, ensuring you don't have to move your hands from the keyboard just to perform basic tasks.
Above the keyboard are a set of touch-sensitive controls. These comprise all sorts of things, including a toggle switch for the wireless radios, a shortcut to HP's Protect Tools software and volume controls. They all work well enough, proving to be responsive and accurate, while adding some useful and convenient functionality.
Important as the keyboard and cursor inputs are to any notebook, though, as far as the 8730w goes it will live and die on the quality of its screen. Besting the other LED RGB equipped notebook we've seen, the Dell Studio XPS 16, the 17in 8730w has a 16:10 ratio display that offers a productivity enhancing 1,920 x 1,200 resolution. As you would rightly expect it also has an anti-glare finish, making it more at home in brightly lit offices than consumer focussed machines.
In use we found the display nothing short of stunning. It's bright, sharp and has wide viewing angles, so even a large group of colleagues can view what you're working on without impediment. Most vital, however, is the bundled software that allows you to control the display's colour settings. You can choose between three colour spaces, sRGB, Adobe RGB or Full (unrestricted), as well as set your desired white point (colour temperature). This sort of flexibility makes the 8730w ideal for someone working with images, where they can switch between sRGB for viewing and editing photos for web pages, then go to Adobe RGB when dealing with CMYK print-based, post-production imagery.