CDW invited me to tour their facilities just outside of Chicago. Actually, they bribed me to attend by promising a free HP product. The product was an HP EliteBook. This is this is my summary of the experience. In other words, this is a sponsored post.
As someone who used to work in FedEx facilities I found touring the CDW warehouse an interesting experience just from an industrial engineering perspective. The aspect of the facilities that will matter to school districts is the department that handles imaging of computers for customers. Customers (schools, businesses, non-profits) can have CDW handle all of their computer imaging for them. CDW will keep a record of the image on file for customers so that they can call, order a new computer, and have it shipped out with an image installed and ready to run. Customers can even order separate images for different user groups. For example, a school district could order an image for teacher computers and an image for student computers. This service could free up IT staff in a district to do other tasks instead of imaging or re-imaging computers over the summer.
The HP EliteBook that I have been using for the last month is the Folio 1040 model with an i5 processor and 128GB solid state drive. The display is a 14" low-glare matte display. The track pad is a multi-touch track pad that you can use to pinch and zoom on objects on your screen.
With the exception of a couple of keynote presentations (I did not want to bother converting my Keynote files to PPT) and a few webinars, I have made the HP EliteBook my primary computer for the last month. The battery life has been outstanding on the EliteBook. I took it on four transcontinental flights and used it for the entire flight with plenty of battery life to spare. Yesterday, I used it all day at Hack Ed 2014 and then used it for two more hours in the evening before having to plug it in. Granted, I was mostly using it for web-based tasks and not doing heavy video editing which would suck up more battery life, but I still find the battery life impressive.
The back-lit keyboard makes the EliteBook easier for me to type on than my Lenovo Yoga of similar size and hardware specs. The matte display is not as crisp as what I find on the Yoga or on a retina display MacBook. That said, the matte display is easier on my eyes when typing for a long a period of time. Speaking of the Lenovo Yoga, the EliteBook is a more rugged machine as I found out when I dropped it off of an airline tray and again when it got squished by someone reclining her seat on a flight to Chicago last week. Why am I comparing it to the Yoga? Because that is the other Windows laptop that I have in the "ultrabook" category.
My bottom line on the HP EliteBook is that if you're in the market for a Windows-based ultrabook, you can't go wrong with the EliteBook. Will it stand-up to the physical torture a middle school student puts a computer through? Probably not. Would a college student, teacher, or perhaps a high school teacher like the EliteBook? Definitely.
DISCLOSURE: CDW paid for my travel and lodging during this event. I received a product for consideration from CDW. All opinions within this article are my own and not subject to review or edits by CDW or its partners.