HP has tried to jazz up some of its consumer PCs in the past with third-party designer touches -- a long-time tactic the industry (including Apple) has leaned on to appeal to luxury or style-conscious buyers (remember Dell's Threadless laptops or Karim Rashid's take on the Asus Eee PC netbook). It's much rarer, however, that such flair is given to enterprise systems, which may have graduated from boring beige boxes, but generally remain buttoned-down.
So it comes as a bit of a surprise that HP has chosen its new EliteBook Folio 1020 to be one of the first to receive a limited edition makeover in association with Bang & Olufsen (which became HP's audio partner of choice after it dumped Beats in the wake of Apple's acquisition of that company). Granted, the EliteBook Folio 1020 is one of the company's most exciting laptop designs to come along in a long time (weighing around 2.7 pounds and a mere 0.62 inches thick), but it's positioned as a next-generation business notebook, albeit one that can compete with Apple's latest MacBook in the looks department.
The limited edition HP EliteBook Folio 1020 gets a bit of exterior bling in the form of copper accents and a darker gray (or "ash silver") chassis replacing the chrome-with-black look of the standard version. Not surprisingly given B&O's heritage, its audio technology has been built into the special configuration, which HP emphasizes will come in use with the 1020's dual-array microphones, speakers, and webcam. It's unclear whether they will be any kind of spec bump for this edition beyond the paint job and improved audio, neither of which may matter to many corporate clients.
HP has announced the EliteBook Folio 1020 limited edition as part of its communication around the forthcoming Windows 10 launch. It calls out two systems in particular -- the B&O version and the Pro Tablet 608 -- as newer models that will ship with the latest Windows OS pre-installed. While touting the new security features of Windows 10, HP adds its BIOSphere technology and fingeprint reader to many of its enterprise laptops, including the EliteBook Folio lineup.
HP hasn't announced a release date or pricing info for the EliteBook Folio 1020 limited edition, though there will most likely be a hike of some kind beyond the $1,249 price of the base configuration. The new model brings a fresh look and potentially better sound to an enterprise laptop that already impressed ZDNet's James Kendrick.