- Excellent battery life
- IPS bright touchscreen
- Two USB-C / Thunderbolt and two USB 3.1 ports
- Useful privacy screen mode
- Multiple configurations off the page
- Expensive, especially at the upper end of the range
- No 8th generation Core processors yet
- There is no discrete GPU option
HP Inc is now in the fourth generation of its 14-inch HP Elitebook 1040, a sure sign that design is a winning formula worthy of regular renewals. In 2014, I reviewed the first generation of this notebook, considering it “the ultrabook of a business executive per inch.” How does the last generation fit?
The HP Elitebook 1040 G4 does not offer sleek screen gymnastics, but its conventional shell design still needs to adapt to many companies. The silver metal chassis is distinctive, and the minimalist HP logo looks striking in the center of the cover.
The metal chassis is rugged (the HP EliteBook 1040 G4 passes the MIL-STD 810G tests), which provides great protection for the laptop in a bag without the need for a case. That helps keep the total weight at an initial point of 1.36 kg.
However, the HP Elitebook 1040 G4 is challenged in full size when compared to some other 14-inch laptops. With a size of 329 mm by 233 mm, it is a little larger than the Lenovo Yoga 920 360-degree 14-inch, for example, whose small vertical screen frames help you get into a chassis that measures 323 mm by 223.5 mm. There is also a difference in thickness, with the Yoga 920 with a thickness of 2 mm, 13.95 mm compared to the 15.9 mm of HP Elitebook 1040 G4. Regarding weight, the two systems are very similar, with the Yoga 920 from 1.37 kg.
These may look like small differences, but if you’re looking to conserve valuable space in a handbag, it would be worth mentioning them.
HP offers no less than 21 ‘off-page’ versions of the HP EliteBook 1040 G4 in the UK, priced from £ 1,179 (excluding VAT) to £ 2,574 (e.g., VAT, or just over £ 3,000 with VAT included)
One of the areas in which the HP EliteBook 1040 G4 settings vary is the screen. My review unit was near the top of the range, sporting a high definition IPS touchscreen (1,920 by 1,080): the highest resolution screen available in the UK. Not all configurations admit the touch, and it is worth noting that the screen is quite reflective, while the maximum brightness level is 700cd / m2, which is very attractive.
Some models, including my review unit, incorporate the HP Sure View privacy screen. Touch the F2 button, and the screen is reconfigured to reduce vertical and horizontal viewing angles. It is not impossible to see the screen from wide angles, but anyone sitting next to you on a train should move to find an angle of vision that works for them, and in doing so, you should get very close to your head. You will certainly notice his maneuvers.
The drawback is that when you see it in front in privacy screen mode, the screen has a somewhat faded appearance. This can be mitigated by increasing the brightness of the screen, although you must find the right balance between visibility and privacy.
The keyboard is elastic and receptive; the keys are nice and big, and well spaced. There is no flex at all, even when the keys are played with great force. Writing is a comfortable experience, and I was able to manage my normal typing speed easily. The cursor keys, which are typically shrunk, have been designed as full-size for left and right, and half-height up and down.
Row Fn has dedicated Call and End keys for those who want to use Skype, as well as a mute microphone key. There is a Fn key that activates the backlight of the keyboard through two brightness settings, plus an Outlook shortcut key. The touchpad is very responsive and a pleasure to use, one of the best I’ve used in a long time, in fact.
When a provider offers several iterations of a laptop, it can be useful to make a quick comparison of the key specifications. But with 21 different configurations outside the page that are not very practical here. Instead, I’m comparing the lowest and lowest price models to give an idea of the range on offer and add my end-to-end review unit.
There are key differences in the range of CPU, GPU, RAM and SSD storage, as expected. Some models also offer mobile broadband. However, HP did not have any version of Elitebook 1040 G4 running the eighth generation Intel Core processor at the time of writing, and there is no external GPU option.
Intel Core i5-7200U, Intel HD Graphics 620, 8 GB RAM, Windows 10 Pro, 14 inches, 1,920 x 1,080 touch screen with privacy screen, 256 GB SSD
£ 1,179 (without VAT)
Intel Core i7-7820HQ, Intel HD Graphics 630, 16 GB RAM, Windows 10 Pro, 14-inch touch screen, 1,920 x 1,080 with privacy screen, 512 GB SSD, mobile broadband
£ 2,574 (without VAT)
Intel Core i7-7600U, Intel HD Graphics 620, 16 GB RAM, Windows 10 Pro, 14 inches, 1,920 x 1,080 touch screen with privacy screen, 512 GB SSD
£ 2,405 (ex VAT, according to revision)
The HP EliteBook 1040 G4 worked very quietly during the test, but on the rare occasions when the fan kicked it became quite noisy for short bursts. That’s something to keep in mind if you’re used to a very quiet work environment. The heat dissipation is very good: the base of the laptop, which is where the fans exits, remained cold all the time.
There is a full-size USB 3.1 port and a headphone jack on the left side, while the right side has space for a second USB 3.1 port, a pair of USB-C / Thunderbolt ports (one of which is doubled as input) power)) and a full-size HDMI connector. There is no MicroSD card slot, which is not uncommon, but it is quite easy to access the MicroSD storage through a USB security device. The palm rest houses a fingerprint sensor.
The sound comes through the Bang and Olufsen speakers, the primary outlet being a carefully designed grill that reaches across the width of the area on the palm rest. The secondary outputs of the speakers are located in the lower part of the chassis, towards the front edge, where the chassis is narrowed, so they are not cushioned by the desk. Although it obtains a significant distortion in the maximum volume, 70% is perfectly acceptable and would be suitable for small conferences or use cases of presentations.
To create a USP for their laptops, HP has begun to introduce a feature called HP PhoneWise. To date, this is only available on a small selection of HP systems: the Elitebook 1040 G4 is bound only by EliteBook x360 1020 G2 and EliteOne 1000 G1 desktop PC. It allows you to make and make calls, and send and receive text messages, without having to take your phone with iOS or Android with Bluetooth connection out of your pocket.
HP claims up to 18 hours of life with the 6-cell 67Wh battery of Elitebook 1040 G4. I did not get anywhere near that during the tests, but in a typical morning job that included writing, web browsing, and some transmissions, the battery only decreased from 98 to 80 percent in 4 hours. On that basis, I would expect the HP Elitebook 1040 G4 to continue to run smoothly for a full day of work and to have enough juice for the daily trip in the afternoon. If you need an energy explosion before leaving the office, Fast Charge will deliver a 50 percent load in 30 minutes.
EliteBook 1040 G4 Price
The HP Elitebook 1040 G4 is a solidly built 14-inch laptop that should prove to be a capable, albeit potentially expensive, workhorse. There are 21 out-of-page configurations available at the time of writing, so it’s a pity that none currently has an 8th generation Intel Core processor. However, the battery life is excellent, you have four USB ports (two USB 3.1, two USB-C / Thunderbolt) and the privacy screen is likely to be useful for mobile professionals.