Beyond a Mobile; Beyond a Laptop

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The Hewlett Packard ZBook 15 G4 running several memory-intensive software including NewTek’s Lightwave, Adobe Creative Suite, Microsoft 3D Paint and Act! contact management software. Photo: Tica Avgerakis

Here is a paradox that is unique to Boomers:  As Google, Facebook, Amazon and other appworlds attempt to extract our “precious bodily fluids” to create a new world order based on the human race as inventory, we humble stone age nomads are stuck between two types of primitive data tools: Those we can hold up to our ears and eyes, and those we can type on.

As a press reviewer, I get to play with any of these tools at no cost and consequently can not only refer my readers to the best of both, but I can also set aside cost as a limitation when defining “best.”  You may certainly not want to spend $3,200 on a laptop, but if you were shopping for a $300 laptop, you’d want to know what you were not getting that the $3,200 laptop had, right?

Well, I’m writing this on what was once the top-of-the-line laptop, which I bought when I needed to go on the road and write, design 3-D animation, edit video, follow 4,000 business contacts, and do my bookkeeping – all at the same time.  That for me was worth $1,800 and I bought the  #Hewlett Packard HP 8560W mobile workstation.  That it came in a metal shell on which I could stand without causing it any damage (it still works fine), was good too.  Believe me, until I retired, I tried like hell to find a better mobile workstation and could not.  And now, needing only a few of these functions and no longer having multitask to meet 24/7/360 deadlines, I could settle for a $300 Lenovo Ideapad 110, my search is more academic than necessary, but only now have I found a suitable replacement and I’m happy to say it is a HUGE leap forward.  So huge, I might just buy the HP ZBook 15 G4 Mobile Workstation, albeit a bit more toward its base price of $1,429.

First off, this is a mobile workstation, not just a laptop.  That means that it is built to WORK.  You would not need this to say, store and edit pictures and videos of your grandkids or play solitaire while running WhatsApp texts with ALL your high school and college alums or download and watch Starwars in HD quality while looking up Harrison Ford on IMDB – all at once.  No, most decent laptops will do this.  A #mobile workstation like the HP ZBook 15 G4 could let you run ALL of the Adobe Creative Suite applications so you could touch up the pictures of your grandkids, separate their faces from the background, animate the two layers to the beat of a music track and compress the results for YouTube, write and produce a symphonic music score for Star Wars, conduct a 5-person video chat and calculate Harrison Ford’s tax returns – all at once.

You might ask now, “Do any Boomers actually do all this?”  And I’d answer, “Yeah.  I know a couple.  Some of us are using the ones #NASA supplied on the International Space Station.

The first part of the HP ZBook 15 G4 Mobile Workstation experience is the light weight, which is only a bit more than the average laptop’s 5 lbs.  Then there’s the incredibly fine-grained 15.6” ultra high definition (3840 x 2160) DreamColor IPS anti-glare screen, which, running Windows 10 Pro 64 starts by showing you brilliant nature photographs that are so real you want to jump through.

Unfortunately for people our age, there is no DVD for installing our favorite software, but you can buy a USB DVD for a few bucks and most workstation software now installs (and sometimes runs) off the web.  I quickly loaded all my favorite computationally demanding software like NewTek’s Lightwave animation software, #Adobe’s CS suite, some 3-D architectural and 3-D printer software, and one of the few intense programs that have followed me into my retirement from media – ACT! contact management with my network of over 3,500 business relationships.  No matter how hard I pushed the #ZBook, it would not crash, it made hardly any sound, and it certainly did not get too hot to touch (like my old 8560W).

When I asked the HP technical representative he really didn’t want to hear, “Could you say that my old 8560W workstation was kind of the forerunner of the ZBook 15 G4,” he replied, “As a matter of fact, it is.  And we think you’ll be happy to discover how much we’ve improved it.”

I WAS surprised.  With 4 SODIMM memory slots, the ZBook 15 G4 can hold up to 64 GB of DDR4 SDRAM (my model had 32 GB).  The chipset is the Intel® Xeon® E3-1505M v6 with Intel® HD Graphics P630. In addition, the #NVIDIA® Quadro® M2200 graphics processor with 4 GB of GDDR5 memory can handle all the high definition images and video you can throw on it.  The audio is handled by #Bang & Olufsen HD hardware including stereo speakers and microphones which support the 720 p HD webcam (I know, mobiles have better cameras, but this is obviously just for video conferencing, not taking photos!).

I am displeased how cheap laptops are cutting down on powered USB ports and keyboard space.  I connect so many devices and thumb drives.  Our ZBook has ports and slots in abundance: 1 RJ-45, 1 USB 3.0 (charging), 1 VGA, 2 USB Type-C™ (Thunderbolt™ 3, DisplayPort™ 1.2, USB 3.1), 2 USB 3.0 and 1 1 stereo microphone-in/headphone-out combo jack.  One SD UHS-II flash media port and a smart card reader are also installed.  The keyboard is backlit and it’s spillproof (thank God!) with fairly large keys and a dedicated numeric keypad for you number-crunchers.

Finally, this computer, like many HP tools comes with HP SureStart and HP BIOSphere, which automatically restores a system’s BIOS firmware to its previously safe state if attacked or corrupted.  “It better manages risk and protects the user and IT productivity against malicious attack, a failed update, or any other accidental or unknown cause,” explains Vali Ali, Chief Technologist for Security and Privacy in the HP PC Business Unit.  This and some clever disabling features make your investment one of the hardest to steal or misuse – a common worry for our generation.

By George Avgerakis employing review hardware supplied by HP.

Feature picture by Luke Wroblewski.

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