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Reliability is key to HP

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At the HP Global Influencer Summit currently being held in Shanghai, China, HP demonstrated a few of the tests its notebooks go through before being put into production. SEAN BACHER reports from the event.

Whip a notebook out of its bag and the first thing you will do is open the lid or screen to reveal the keyboard. A simple process, but one that puts the notebook under a surprising amount of pressure.

“Firstly, the locking mechanism has to be moved to unlock the lid, then the hinges have to support the display as it is swiveled to the desired height,”” says Carol Hess, Vice President of Commercial PC Marketing at HP.

As simple, obvious and almost unthinking an action as that is, it has challenged engineers for a couple of decades. The keyboard is an even bigger challenge.

“”If a notebook was designed to last a few days, this wouldn’t really be an issue, but today’s devices are designed to last years, with the average notebook being opened and closed thousands of times in its life.””

It is for this reason that HP puts its notebooks through a variety of tests to emulate what they would go through every day.

“”We start off with the hinge test. During this test we connect a range of our notebooks to a mechanised arm that simulates the opening and closing of the lid over 25 000 times.””

At the same time, another set of notebooks is connected to the latch test.

“”This is a three-phase test where the lid is closed, the latch is locked then unlocked and the lid opened. This is also performed 25 000 times.””

Hess says that the hinges are manufacturers from aluminium with a hardened steel pin and the latches from a titanium alloy, making them more robust than many of their competitors.

“”Keyboards also take quite a hammering, and it is for this reason that each of our keyboards are put through a 10-million keystroke test – the equivalent of the average user using a keyboard for ten years.””

According to Hess, electrostatic discharge is also extremely harmful to a computer’s components, such as its hard drive or CPU. Each of HP’s notebooks are subjected to 6 000 kilovolt discharges at various areas around the device. “”We test the screen, power outlet, keyboard and even the inputs and outputs,”” she says.

Dropping a notebook is one of the most common forms of a hard disk failure, or even worse a complete computer failure. “” It is for this reason that HP puts its Elite notebook range through the Military 810g suite of tests. Among other things, this suite includes a drop test, where each notebook is dropped from a predefined height 26 times – if it survives it moves onto the manufactural process.””

Finally, all of HP’s notebooks are subjected to extreme temperatures.

“”Our notebooks are powered down and then subjected to temperatures as low as -20 degrees Celsius and as high as 65 degrees Celsius. The minute the computer comes out of the oven of freezer, it is booted up to identify any problems.

Each of our notebooks goes through 115 000 hours of testing, before being sent to manufacture.””

* Follow Sean on Twitter on @seanbacher

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