During its Computex 2018 keynote speech, Microsoft highlighted security as one of the main themes, and the newly-announced HP ProBook x360 440 G1 was shown onstage as a prime example of a safe and secure, yet sexy machine. Pocket-lint was on hand to check it out.
The HP ProBook x360 440 G1 is a convertible laptop aimed mostly at business users. It is essentially an everyday, work laptop that doesn't look like a paving slab, yet is ultra-secure and can defend itself against all kinds of attacks, even while being schlepped around.
Its main security feature comes from HP BIOSphere Gen 4 tech which, as the name suggests, protects the BIOS. It is commonly an area which is vulnerable to attack when unsecured.
In a white paper published in April, HP explained the dangers: "Physically-present attackers can quickly disassemble the system and establish a direct connection to the non-volatile storage device on the circuit board to inject malware. Or, malware can be introduced via unsecured ports," it said.
"BIOS level attacks are very difficult to detect because they control the device below the operating system and cannot be removed or modified by anti-virus software. Malware targeting the BIOS can continually supply data and reinstate itself after network defences deploy. A compromised BIOS can remain hidden, disable other security measures on the PC, and even survive a disk wipe and operating system reinstallation.”
The HP BIOSphere Gen 4, therefore, can protect ports from malicious USB drives. It allows the user to disable them and block booting from USB. Another nod to those who value security is the ability to permanently erase data from the HDD and SSD.
Additionally, there is a single screw access on the rear panel to make it simple to self-service the device without exposing it to the vulnerability of sending it out for repair. Windows Hello fingerprint and facial recognition complete the security roundup.
The model that was shown onstage was powered by an Intel Core i5-8250U, had 8GB of RAM and 256 GB storage, and a 64-bit operating system on a x64 based processer.
There is pen and touch support with 10 touch points and the device runs Windows 10.
Unfortunately, it was strictly hands-off at the time, so we were expecting to be limited to visual impressions only. Luckily though, a friendly Microsoft exec who was permitted to touch the device tested out the touchpad and keyboard for us.
He described the touchpad as "very smooth, with tactile feedback" and the keyboard as "snappy, with no clicking and smooth key travel". We can confirm that this certainly sounded and looked to be the case from our close observation.
The hinge action, in as far as we saw, was also smooth and easily operated by a single firm hand.
The keyboard is surrounded by a smart-looking, lightly-textured finish and the touchpad is outlined by a silver trim. The 360-degree hinges also have a silver finish. Another nice touch is the HP logo on the lid which is also finished with the silver effect and so picks up reflections from the surroundings, giving a bit of relief from the overall business design.
For ports, there are RJ45 Ethernet, HDMI, an SSD slot, Type-A USB and Type-C (the latter of which can be used connect the ProBook to a desktop dock). There are also a Kensington lock and headphone jack, which seem practical for the business or mobile user. Presumably, all of these can be isolated and enabled or disabled with the BIOSphere system.
The convertible form factor and connectivity also means that it is perfect for an on-the-go business user with all the usual 360-hinge possibilities: tent, regular laptop, presentation (AKA Netflix mode) and tablet modes.
With a mid to low-range price and a simple yet appropriate design, the HP ProBook x360 440 G1 isn’t flashy but it is smart looking and marks a step forward in data protection.
HP announced separately that prices would start at the £450 mark and release is expected this month.