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Every now and then a review product comes across your path that mere mortals can't afford, but will taint your reviewing experience forever.
The EliteBook 8560w is one of these. A workstation laptop with a ridiculous amount of grunt; beautiful build quality; immaculate trackpad and a lust-worthy 15.7-inch, 1920x1080 DreamColor IPS screen — if you want quality while you work, this is your nirvana.
If you're not trackpad inclined, there's a stick here as well, and to sweeten the deal, the keyboard is backlit.
Design is almost spot on for a laptop of this size, with one exception: HP has put the status lights on the lip, an utterly useless proposition as they're impossible to read when the laptop is being used.
Ports are reasonable, supplying 2x USB 2.0, 1x USB 2.0 with integrated eSATA, 2x USB 3.0, FireWire 400, gigabit Ethernet, DisplayPort, VGA, an SD card reader, headphone and microphone jacks, Blu-ray drive, and a 56Kbps modem on the rear for those with no other option.
Hardware is equally impressive, sporting a Core i7 2820QM, 8GB RAM, a 256GB Micron SSD and the beefy Nvidia Quadro 2000M, replete with 2048MB memory. There's a Bluetooth adapter in there, Intel's Ultimate-N 6300 AGN and an HSPA+ adapter so you can connect to 3G.
You need not have all of this — if you can't afford the top of the range (and we'd expect very few could justify it), there are other SKUs available — dropping the DreamColor display and SSD will see a significant difference.
Performance in benchmarks was quite impressive, nailing 3DMark06 and PCMark05 to the wall with scores of 11,474 and 11,382, respectively. Quadro drivers are tuned more to 3D and CAD design than gaming — if you'd prefer a gaming machine, there are other alternatives with better performance. For production tasks, though, the 8560w screams.
Battery life for a machine of this size and power is quite low, as to be expected. With all power-saving features turned off, screen brightness and volume set to maximum and an XviD file played back, the battery lasted one hour and 45 minutes before conking out.
The HP EliteBook 8560w is a beautiful piece of engineering. We only hope that one day — no doubt far, far in the future — this level of quality can bleed down to lower-end machines.