HP ZBook 15 G2: Keyboard & Trackpad
HP has fitted a Scrabble-tile keyboard to the ZBook, and the typing action is good. The base is firm, the keys are consistent, and they’ve got an action that toes the line between snappy and soft. When it comes to a pure typing experience, it’s as good as the Dell Precision M3800 and Toshiba, but not as impressive as Apple’s all-conquering MacBooks or the traditional unit on the Dell M6800.
The mouse options are impressively versatile. The touchpad is large and smooth, and underneath there are three snappy physical buttons – one more than most notebooks. The middle of the keyboard houses a trackpoint, which has three buttons of its own.
It sounds like a clean bill of health, but the HP is hampered by small issues. The keyboard uses a US layout, for a start, so UK users will have to cope without a £ sign key and a half-height Return key. Also, we found our left hand kept nudging the trackpad and clicking the buttons by accident.
Other things to consider
Our sample costs a daunting £3,119, but HP’s online store offers numerous configuration options. It’s possible to save £259 or £457 by opting for lesser Core i7 processors, and three different graphics chips are available, with two lesser Quadro units and a cheaper AMD FirePro chip all costing less than our K2100M.
Two different 1080p screen options can make this machine more manageable, and memory configurations can be dialled back to 4GB or upgraded to 32GB. Storage can be augmented with SSDs or hard disks, and the Blu-ray drive can be swapped for more storage or dropped entirely to save weight and money.
A smaller battery, different OS versions and a huge selection of HP care packs are available. There are accessories: a docking station is £206, and a smaller power adapter is £77.
Accessories and care packs aside, it means the ZBook is available in a huge range of prices. A basic model starts for a little over £1,300, but the top specification costs more than £3,900.
Should I Buy the HP ZBook 15 G2?
HP’s latest workstation ticks virtually every box we expect from a high-end business machine. The processor delivers muscular performance, and it’s ably supported by a discrete GPU, lashings of RAM and rapid storage. It’s a well-balanced specification that means intensive applications, graphical software and other office tools work smoothly.
It’s littered with ports, the interior is more versatile than many competitors, and battery life is reasonable.
The ZBook 15 isn’t without fault, though. The high-resolution screen has its pros and cons, and other panels have more accurate colours. The keyboard and trackpad are also bettered elsewhere.
And, finally, there’s the price. Our sample costs £2,886, but Dell’s Precisions can be equipped with similar hardware – or, at least, hardware capable of handling almost all work applications – and come out cheaper, sometimes by hundreds of pounds. That makes our model only viable if you really need its high-resolution screen, powerful processor and litany of office-friendly features.
The ZBook offers a better deal at the bottom end, where its basic £1,300 version is cheaper than both Dell alternatives and not much pricier than the Toshiba.
The ZBook 15 arrives with a specification that’s got the power to handle almost all work applications, and that’s paired with impressive versatility – inside and out. The high-resolution screen is a mixed bag, though, and other systems are more ergonomically sound. The price for this configuration is is too high too; unless you plan to use every feature, other machines offer similar power at lower prices.
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Score in detail
Screen Quality 6
Build Quality 9
Heat & Noise 7
Battery Life 7