In raw performance terms, the 8730w delivers on pretty much every front. In PCMark Vantage it performed admirably, showing itself capable of chomping through even intensive tasks with ease. We would add, though, that the single RAM module does hold it back in places, particularly in the memory test, as does the use of DDR2 RAM instead of faster DDR3. Given this is an expensive high-performance system it is surprising HP has gone down this route.
Setting aside that small disappointment for a moment, however, the 8730w delivers some very impressive battery life figures for a notebook of its size and specification. In the MobileMark 2007 Productivity test it easily exceeded two hours and 30 minutes, while the idle Reader test produced a result in excess of three hours. Even the DVD test, where we look for a worst case scenario, returned a decent one hour and 55 minutes runtime. Enough time to watch most films.
Moreover, HP offers a couple of useful ways to supplement the standard eight-cell 73 Watt-hour battery, via a secondary connection on the bottom of the machine just below the docking station connection. First is the HP Extended Life Battery, a 52 Watt-hour pack, which attaches to the bottom and charges the primary battery pack up to 90 per cent in 90 minutes. Then there's a 12-cell Ultra Capacity battery that, when combined with the primary battery, could offer in the region of four hours use. Of course, such advantages are tempered by the reduced portability, but if you need as much battery life as possible then these options will be very welcome.
HP packs most of the ingredients of an excellent mobile workstation into the 8730w. It has a fantastic screen, is powerful and well featured, and if you do need to take it out there are plenty of options for extending the battery life. However, it is very expensive and despite the massive price tag it does lack a few small but obvious things, like a DisplayPort or DVI video output. As such we won't recommend it outright, but if it fulfils your needs it shouldn't disappoint.