The keyboard has largely survived some terrible design decisions by various laptop manufacturers over the years.
Perhaps the bggest change was the arrival of chiclet, or island style keyboards, popularised by the Mac and numerous other major brands. It's now fairly common to see home laptops with this layout, but business machines are a different story. Whether for fear of upsetting corporate buyers, or perception that funky keyboards don't belong in offices, business laptops have generally avoided flashier design fads.
But that's changing. We're seeing more major brands willing to ditch the 1990s keyboard design for the contemporary chiclet style. Today HP announced new laptops, including new Probook and Elitebook business machines with the new style.
As our before and after photos show, HP has already been experimenting with a more consumer-like keyboard layout. The previous version of the Elitebook ditched the old 90s look, but the new version has a more modern look, with gaps between the keys.
HP's previous generation Elitebook 8440p
HP's new Elitebook 8460p
While it's a relatively minor change, considering what's going on under the hood (the new 2nd generation Core Intel processor), it's interesting to see business machines slowly adopting more a fashionable look. Even Lenovo, which resisted fiddling with keyboards for years, relented last year and adopted this style for its Edge small business laptops.
The new HP Elitebook comes in two sizes. The Elitebook 8560p has a 15.6in screen and starts at $2,899. The Elitebook 8460p has a 14in screen and starts at $2,699. The 8460p is available from April.
The HP Probook comes in two series. The b series, starts at $1,299, while the small business s series starts at $899. The 4230s is available from May.
Also see: our unboxing of HP's amazing transformable Touchsmart 610