While HP has changed the name of its mobile workstation notebook line, the HP ZBook 17 remains a traditional workstation device. What does that mean for serious business users? The ZBook is a sizable notebook with strong performance levels and ample connectivity; the perfect work horse for users looking to tackle demanding computing tasks. However, with our test unit priced well over $3,000 that performance comes at a steep price.
Does the HP ZBook 17 warrant its high-end costs? Read the full review to find out.
Build and Design
Along with the moniker change, the HP ZBook 17 sports a new curved aesthetic; breaking away from the traditional straight-edged chassis design employed its predecessor, the HP EliteBook 8770W.
The display lid is mainly comprised of black aluminum that sports a fetching vertical striation design complete with the HP logo located on the lid’s center. The outer curved edges of the lid are engulfed in a protective black rubber trimming that is soft to the touch and easy to grip, which proves to be a notable boon when trying to transport the sizeable notebook. The face of the display connects to the squared durable 180-degree display hinges.
The face of deck features a black metallic coating that is pleasantly cool to the touch. The base of the chassis offers the same premium construct. Users will also enjoy the maintenance hatch on the bottom of the device, which provides users with quick access to the notebook’s innards without having to loosen any screws.
Measuring in at 16.37 x 10.7 x 1.33 and weighing in at roughly 8.48 pounds (varies depending on build) the HP ZBook 17 can be a handful to transport, especially when taking into account the additional 2 pound power brick. Users looking for a workstation with a more portable build want to look to the HP ZBook 14, but you can expect to take a noticeable hit in performance for the lighter form factor.
With the machine’s hefty build it comes as little surprise that the device is a tank. The chassis held its form completely even when extreme pressure applied. The display lid proved just as durable flexing slightly too heavy pressure with no noticeable rippling appearing on-screen. While the device be taxing to transport, users can rest assured that the notebook will hold up to the wears and tears of travel without any issues.
Connectivity is a high priority for mobile workstations, which is why it comes as no surprise that the HP ZBook 17 offers a wide array of ports. The left side of the device features a security lock slot, two USB 3.0 ports (one of which doubles as a charger when the device is turned off), a Thunderbolt port, a Display Port connector, a Smart Card reader and an ExpressCard reader. The right side offers a VGA connector, a DVD optical drive (can be removed to make room for a third HDD), USB 3.0 port, USB 2.0 port, an audio jack and a card reader. The HP ZBook 17 also offers an Ethernet connector on the back right hand side of the chassis and a dock connector on the bottom of the device.
While the HP ZBook 17 offers an impressive level of connectivity, the lack of spacing mars some of the device’s utility. Bulky USB plugs and peripherals can easily block corresponding ports, making it difficult for users to access multiple outlets simultaneously.
Display and Sound
The HP ZBook 17 features a 17.3-inch LED FHD (1920 x 1080) WVA Anti-Glare display. Boasting a vibrant 230 nits max brightness the display offers a crisp clear image. Notebook Review (NBR) was particularly impressed by the panel’s rich color contrast, as the device was able to accurately detail the black edges of the fog of war against the bright green grassy fields in the game League of Legends. Whether you are reading text or editing pictures the HP ZBook 17 offers a high-quality viewing experience.
Users can rest assured that the HP’s image quality will hold up as well, thanks to the display’s flexible viewing angles. On the horizontal axis images holds up till around 170 degrees with no noticeable distortion. The display proves just as flexible on the vertical axis as well, with image quality remaining pristine even at extreme angles.
The HP ZBook 17 houses a speaker grill located on the notebook’s deck directly above the keyboard. The speakers offer boisterous audio levels capable of filling an entire room with ease. At 100 percent capacity the speakers did produce a small amount of distortion while playing an orchestral track. However, the speakers held up much better while listening other tracks and watching various YouTube videos. For simple tasks the HP ZBook 17’s speakers should suffice, but for optimum audio quality users should opt for an external device.
Keyboard and Touchpad
The HP ZBook 17 features a full Chiclet-style keyboard complete with number pad. The keyboard stretches across the large chassis offering ample spacing between each key. The rounded keys are coated in a textured plastic that provides ample grip. With its thick frame the notebook offers solid key travel and responsive feedback allowing users to type quickly with assured accuracy.
The notebook houses a TrackPoint stick located between the G and H keys. The top portion of the touchpad also features right, left and middle mouse buttons, to provide users with full control while using the TrackPoint stick. The stick offers excellent response times and sensitivity making it a more than viable control mechanism for those that prefer the pointer.
However, those who would rather opt for a touchpad will find a sizable one located directly below the keyboard’s space bar. The touchpad features a smooth surface, providing excellent control while scrolling or swiping across its surface. As with the top of the touchpad, the bottom is also outfitted with left, right and middle mouse buttons.
Equipped with Synaptics drivers the touchpad performs admirably accurately responding to each swipe, click and multi-finger gesture with minimal delay. One feature that see strange to users is the touchpad’s dead zone. Only the center of the touchpad will respond to taps, the outer edges will ignore the command, though multi-finger gestures will work anywhere on the touchpad’s surface. This feature allows users to easily scroll thorough pages without accidentally clicking on something, though it take some getting used to.
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