HP Refreshes Small Business ProBook Notebooks

Hewlett-Packard (HP) has launched its new ProBook 400 series of Intel- and AMD-based business notebooks, which according to Chad Paris, creative design lead for HP, helps to usher in the company’s strategy of bringing desirable and “aspirational” tech to market. He described HP’s past efforts as “siloed,” offering customers “nothing that resonates as HP.”

That’s changing with CEO Meg Whitman’s support and encouragement, reported Paris at a May 3 press event in New York City.

Buyers of the new HP ProBook 400 notebooks can expect touches like one-piece aluminum keyboard surrounds, matte soft-touch protective surfaces, tight seams and sleeker profiles that take up less space in users’ gadget bags. According to HP, the new 400 series notebooks are up to 36 percent thinner and 18 percent lighter than their predecessors.

Evidence of the company’s “forward leaning stance” — best exemplified by the tilt on HP’s newly standardized round logo — abounds. Paris demonstrated how his company is purposefully drawing on the allure of otherwise ubiquitous devices with beveled edges that not only reduce bulk, but also give the 400s a purposeful, dynamic look instead of the stodgy, business-like exteriors that vendors typically reserve for their small business offerings.

HP’s New Design Approach Pays Off

The HP ProBook 400 portfolio, six models that range from the compact 13-inch 430 to the 17-inch 470, sports a clean, decidedly non-bargain basement look. High-grade surfaces feel nice to the touch, and we couldn’t find even a hint of flexing after a couple of firm twists from this writer — a good sign for road warriors. In a better sign for coffee drinkers, the keyboards are spill-resistant.

While the 400s appears sleeker than business notebooks, it is no less robust. All told, each ProBook 400 model has undergone at least 115,000 hours of reliability testing.

Unlike vendors that churn out impenetrable, non-user-serviceable devices in their quest for thin-and-light notebooks, HP took another route. With the exception of the 430, ProBook 400s feature a screw-less battery compartment and main panels that give access to practically every upgradeable and replaceable part. Removing a couple of screws is however required to access the 430’s internals.

Other features include HP 3D DriveGuard, which protects the hard drive in the event of a drop or other sudden movements that can result in data loss. To keep business files safe, ProBook 400s come bundled with HP’s security suite, which offers data encryption and data protection features that are integrated into the hardware, BIOS and included software.

An optional fingerprint reader adds a layer of biometric security. Other options include hybrid hard drives and solid-state drives (SSD) on select models, a webcam with a dual microphone array and 4G connectivity.

HP’s Touchbook 400 series rolls out in May 2013, and it ships with Windows 8 (a Windows 7 downgrade option is available). Prices start at $499.

Adding to the Print and Scan Lines

HP also debuted two new printing and scanning solutions, the HP LaserJet Pro MFP M521 and the ScanJet Pro 3000 S2.

The network-enabled (wired and wireless) multifunction M521 can print 42 pages per minute and offers one-pass, dual-sided scanning along with touch-screen controls. A standard 600-sheet paper tray and an optional 500-sheet expansion tray keep refills to a minimum.

The M521 supports HP ePrint, AirPrint or DirectPrint for mobile and remote printing. Prices start at $899.

ScanJet Pro 3000 S2 is a compact, upright scanner that scans 20 pages per minute and handles stacks of up to 50 sheets. It can capture documents and images at up to 600 DPI (dots per inch) and supports dual-sided scanning. HP EveryPage Ultrasonic technology prevents missed pages from clingy sheets. The 3000 is available now for $449.

Both the LaserJet Pro M521 and ScanJet Pro 3000 support HP Flow for direct access into the company’s cloud-based content management system. HP Flow provides searchable, file storage, management, sharing and sync capabilities, allowing authorized users to find and access documents on their PCs or mobile devices.

Pedro Hernandez is a contributing editor at Small Business Computing and InternetNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @ecoINSITE.

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