The new version of HP’s EliteBook 1040 laptop looks and feels like a business laptop. The smooth, metal case is cool to the touch and its chamfered edges gleam, even in subdued light. The 14-inch screen is clear and bright, while the keyboard is large enough for easy typing.
According to HP, the EliteBook 1040 G3—which is the model we tested—is the thinnest 14-inch business laptop on the market, measuring 15.8 mm or 0.62 inches thick. But that’s only 0.04 inches thinner than the Lenovo X1 Yoga—not enough to be noticeable. On the other hand, at 3.15 pounds it is noticeably heavier than the Lenovo unit, by nearly half a pound.
But let’s face it: The differences in this weight range are not significant. By the time you slide this laptop into your briefcase alongside all of the other junk you carry around, the chances of noticing a few extra ounces are slim. What you will notice is how easy this laptop is to use and how well it works in day-to-day use.
For daily operations, the HP EliteBook 1040 works just fine. The keyboard is responsive and the touchpad, which is smooth, works well. The mouse buttons are part of the touchpad, located on the lower edge. While this location is effective and delivers a satisfying click, it can be difficult to know where to press until you get used to using it. I also noticed that pressing the button tended to move the pointer if I wasn’t careful.
This is a very fast computer, which you’d expect with its sixth generation Intel i7 processor and speedy 512 GB SSD storage. The model tested had 16GB of system memory. The 14-inch touch-screen is easy to read and the 2560-by-1440 screen resolution makes it easy to work with photos and graphics. The screen is made with Corning Gorilla Glass, which should protect it against breakage.
According to HP, the laptop is built to resist damage, passing 12 MIL-SPEC tests. HP provided a video of this laptop being dropped repeatedly to a cement floor from about 3 feet without damage to the laptop. Drops to the carpeted floor of my office did not result in any damage.
HP has beefed up the data security for this laptop as well. There’s an integrated smart-card reader on the left side of the machine that can be used for authentication, and a fingerprint sensor is located on the palm rest, just below the arrow keys on the keyboard. The fingerprint information is encrypted by a unique key and the data is stored in a secure location in the sensor.
Perhaps equally important, the EliteBook, which ships with Windows 10 Pro, includes the ability to heal itself of damage caused to the BIOS by malware or rootkits. The machine verifies its integrity automatically on startup, and then automatically verifies the BIOS integrity every 15 minutes while the machine is running.
The EliteBook 1040 G3 also features an integrated privacy screen included that makes it difficult for someone sitting next to you to read what’s on your screen. I expected the privacy screen would make the items on the screen disappear, as add-on privacy screens of old would. But in this case, the screen content becomes impossible for someone sitting close by to read.
I tested the HP EliteBook 1040 G3 with HP’s optional UltraSlim docking station. This is a typical docking station on which the notebook rests on a low platform and raises the rear of the laptop slightly, providing a more comfortable angle for typing. To connect the laptop to the docking station, slide the connecter into the docking connector slot on the side of the laptop. Once that’s done, simply press the power button located on the top of the docking station and everything works. This makes it easy to integrate the EliteBook into your office environment.
The docking station includes a VGA video port, two DisplayPort connectors, a Gigabit Ethernet port, four USB 3.0 ports and two audio connectors. Considering that this machine already has two USB 3.0 connectors, a USB-C connector and an HDMI connector, you can connect nearly any peripheral or communication device you’re likely to want. Wireless 802.11ac communications are already built-in and cellular wireless is available.
Overall, the HP EliteBook 1040 G3 is a well-designed and rugged laptop computer that’s ready for life on the road. However, I found the keyboard to be less than ideal. While it was good enough to enable me to write this review on the EliteBook, the touchpad’s integration with the mouse buttons raised the error rate while typing. I suspect this problem will go away with practice. Overall, it’s a very good machine well-suited for enterprise use.
HP EliteBook 1040 G3 (as tested): $1969.00
HP UltraSlim Docking Station: $159.00