Beyond the HP ProBook 6460b’s ability to handle demanding applications, its suite of security features will likely appeal to agency IT administrators who need to support field personnel and road warriors. HP ProtectTools, the company’s security package, offers several sign-on options and authentication mechanisms to protect the laptop.

After switching on the machine and clicking the facial-recognition access option, my personal favorite, HP ProtectTools recognized my face using the webcam and gave me access within seconds. It’s a useful luxury for those of us who appreciate security but hate passwords. HP cautions that one should activate the facial-recognition feature in conjunction with another of the machine’s authentication mechanisms, since it’s possible for an intruder to trick the facial recognition with a photograph of the approved end-user.

Users can add fingerprint sign-on, which would be screened after their face was recognized, or have the machine scan and identify a Bluetooth device. And agency help desk workers shouldn’t worry about helping countless employees set up the aforementioned security tools. The company intended its current version of HP ProtectTools to resolve past complaints about user-friendliness. I think it succeeded — configuring the facial recognition, fingerprint sign-on and other security tools was intuitive and simple.

HP’s QuickWeb feature takes the user to the Internet with a push of a button — without firing up the operating system. Because this functions separately from the operating system, a user can still access the Web, even if the operating system crashes.

As someone without a smartphone (gasp!), I would use this function to in airports to jump on the Web between tight connecting flights. But with the proliferation of smartphones in state and local agencies, those devices are probably better options for quick Web access, especially for workers routinely out of the office.

Using a liquid reservoir under the keys, the notebook can withstand minor spills, which drain from the bottom of the machine. I couldn’t verify the reservoir’s effectiveness, however, because the protective Mylar film on the keyboard kept most of the water I poured from penetrating.

Andy Opsahl  |  Features Editor