LOS ANGELES, CA (SIGGRAPH 08), Aug 13, 2008 - New HP and ThinkPad mobile workstations were on display at the recent SIGGRPAPH show. I must say I'm partial to ThinkPads. The TrackPoint seals the deal for me. Having mouse control right by your index finger is much better than moving it way down for a touchpad like with most laptops. Besides, I worry about losing my fingerprint. Seriously, for extended use, I do hook up a mouse, but in crammed quarters (such as on an airplane) the TrackPoint is indespensable.
The only laptop I would consider competition for the ThinkPad would be HP's new laptop, the EliteBook 8530 series. HP uses their own version of the Trackpoint, choosing to not make it bright red. HP also seems to depart from ThinkPad in looks in more major cosmetic ways, abandoning the all black of ThinkPad in favor of lots of shiny metal, perhaps trying to steal some of the cool now from Apple and Sony laptops.
So why would I upgrade my ThinkPad T42p to either of these?
The ThinkPad W500 has an amazing 1920 wide pixel screen. That would be perfect for looking at 2 pages side by side, or 2 applications. There are many time I am using FrontPage along with IE, for example. Or a CAD program while looking at an online tutorial or a help screen. Side by side is so much more convenient than having to flip from window to window.
Also, the W500 has built in WAN. I currently have to insert Verizons's PC card into my present laptop. It sticks out and i always worry about it catching on things as well as leaving it behind on a trip.
HPs mobile workstation (HP EliteBook 8530w shown above) is pretty close to the ThinkPad on specs, but I can't quite muster any enthusiasm for the shiny aluminum surfaces. Boring black is fine for me. However, HP does make a good case (no pun intended) for the design of its new lid, which locks securely when closed using two pins rather than the sliding latch of my ThinkPad. According to HP, preventing lateral movement with the pins as well as the overall strudiness of the metal lid should greatly reduce breakage of the LCD screen (#2 cause of laptop failure, #1 being hard disk crashes).
HP's big splash with its mobile workstations was that it uses DreamColor technology. While DreamColor does result in impressive color saturation, that is only available in the 17" model. But I don't really consider 17" and bigger laptops portable so I did not look at that model too closely.