HP Z Club: Trying to make pro creative gear seem cool and affordable

At Adobe Max, HP unveiled its new "club", which offers try before you buy, bundles, configuration advice and leasing plans for "Elite Creators."

Lori Grunin Senior Editor / Advice
I've been reviewing hardware and software, devising testing methodology and handed out buying advice for what seems like forever; I'm currently absorbed by computers and gaming hardware, but previously spent many years concentrating on cameras. I've also volunteered with a cat rescue for over 15 years doing adoptions, designing marketing materials, managing volunteers and, of course, photographing cats.
Expertise Photography, PCs and laptops, gaming and gaming accessories
Lori Grunin
2 min read
Sarah Tew/CNET

HP wants you to think about professional creative gear as "a cool platform" for getting your work done. Why? Because "'workstation' doesn't resonate." 

And the company has a point: Would you have clicked on this story if I'd used "workstation" in the title? Statistics say no. The word conjures visions of ugly, boring PCs manned by '70s-era engineers -- that and expensive price tags requiring deep-pocketed corporate budgets.

The first step HP took trying to refashion the workstation's image was to update its ZBook mobile workstations, such as the ZBook Studio x360 and ZBook x2, with design cues borrowed from its successful Spectre line of premium laptops . (It announced that those models, plus the ZBook 15 and 17, now offer Core i9 configurations with up to 128GB memory.)

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The second step: Make it desirable, easier and seemingly more affordable to buy all the great gear you want. Enter HP Z Club, "an exclusive program for elite creators to upgrade their studios" which marries a monthly subscription plan with hardware leasing. 

In practice, HP will create individualized custom bundles of systems and accessories (monitors, printers and input devices) to meet the needs of photographers, video editors, graphic designers or artists. The bundle is free for the first three months, at which point you keep it and begin to pay a monthly leasing fee or send it back. HP didn't mention anything about discounts, though, which is too bad. At launch, the Club will be limited to a select group of 100.

Apply now! Operators are standing by.

Watch this: HP's ZBook x2 G4 gears you for great art on the go