HP EliteBook 6930p

HP EliteBook 6930p

Summary: HP's EliteBook 6930p is a solidly built 'thin and light' system that comes in a wide range of configurations. We have reservations about the entry-level screen resolution and USB port placement, but overall this is a decent mobile business workhorse.

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  • Editors' rating:
    7.5
  • User rating:
  • RRP:
    £1,016.00

Pros

  • Solidly built to withstand the knocks of mobile working
  • Integrated keyboard light
  • Excellent keyboard

Cons

  • Lacks integrated mobile broadband
  • Low resolution screen
  • Only three USB ports

HP's EliteBook 6930p comes in a huge number of models — no fewer than 19 were listed at the company's web site at the time of writing. Prices start at £935 (ex. VAT) rising to £1,567 for a high-spec model including an 80GB solid-state hard drive. Our review sample, the £1,016 GB928ET model, is at the lower end of the price range and is a solidly built 14.1in. 'thin and light' notebook designed to service mobile professionals who don't mind carrying a slightly heavier system than your average ultraportable.

Design
The EliteBook 6930p's silver and black livery is charitably described as 'business bland'. However, a functional design and good build quality are more important than pure aesthetics in a business notebook, and here the EliteBook scores well.

This is a very well-built notebook that weighs 2.1kg, which just takes it out of the sub-2kg 'ultraportable' category. The trade-off for the extra weight is increased durability: the screen, for example, is among the more rigid we've seen, and the system unit is also sturdy.

If you do end up carrying this notebook regularly, you may be grateful for the solid clasp that holds the clamshell closed in your bag.

The EliteBook 6930p measures 33.1cm wide by 24.3cm deep and is 3.1cm thick at its maximum. It's not exactly small, but then it does accommodate a 14.1in. screen.

The screen — in our review sample at least — is a bit of a disappointment. The viewing angles are good, and the screen itself is readable, its matte finish allowing you to work in all kinds of indoor lighting conditions. The disappointment is the screen resolution, which at just 1,280 by 800 it is not as high as we'd like. Several models in the 6930p range have 1,440 by 900 displays, which we'd much prefer.

The EliteBook 6930p has plenty of plus points, though. The keyboard is large but still has space for a row of full-sized number keys and a row of slightly smaller Fn keys above that. It's also reassuringly rigid, with absolutely no flex, and the keys give good feedback. Typing at speed is a pleasurable experience.

There is room for a vertical column of keys to the right of the main keyboard that contains the Home, PgUp, PgDn and End keys. Beneath these is an inverted-T arrangement of cursor control keys.

HP includes both a touchpad and a pointing stick. The touchpad includes vertical but not horizontal scrolling capability and has two fairly large and responsive mouse buttons beneath it. The touchpad is recessed a couple of millimeters, which we found a little irritating — it's too easy to hit the rim with a fingertip.

The pointing stick sits in its customary location between the G, H and B keys. The stick is only slightly raised, but its dimpled finish and concave shape makes it easy and comfortable to use. A second pair of mouse buttons sits beneath the spacebar.

There's a fingerprint scanner in the bottom right corner of the wrist rest, while above the keyboard is a range of touch-sensitive controls. On the far right is a volume slider, with a mute button to its left. All three normally have a light blue backlight, although the mute button's backlight turns red in silent mode.

Further to the left are three more controls: one calls up HP's Presentation Settings screen which allows you to switch quickly to presets for display settings and to run any application you designate. The second calls up the HP Info Centre, a centralised location for user guides, software management, security tools, hard drive shock protection and other similar features. We'd prefer this to link into more system management features, though. The third button is an on/off toggle for the Wi-fi and Bluetooth radios. This glows deep blue when wireless is on, red when wireless is off.

Some models in the 6930p range have an integrated webcam, but our review sample does not. It does have a keyboard light, which is activated by pressing a button that pops a light out from a casing. This sheds enough illumination to let you work comfortably on a airplane, or in similarly dimly lit conditions.

Features
The HP EliteBook 6930p GB982ET has a 2.53GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T9400 processor. It comes with 2GB of RAM, expandable to a maximum of 8GB. The graphics are handled by the GMA 4500MHD module integrated in the GM45 Express chipset.

The operating system in our review sample is Windows Vista Business; HP will also configure this notebook with Windows Vista Enterprise or SuSE Linux Enterprise Desktop 10.

Our review sample has a 160GB hard drive spinning at 5,400rpm. Options in the various models run to a 250GB hard drive and, in the most expensive option, an 80GB solid state drive (SSD). A LightScribe-compliant optical drive sits on the right side of the casing.

Wireless connectivity includes Bluetooth and Wi-Fi (802.11a/b/g, Draft-N), while for the wired there's Gigabit Ethernet and a 56Kbps modem. Mobile broadband is not support in the GB982ET model — in fact, it's only available in one model (the £1,223 NN188EA) out of 19. The SIM slot, underneath the battery, is clearly marked, and some users could be erroneously lulled into supposing that mobile broadband is present.

For a relatively sizeable notebook it's disappointing that there are only three USB 2.0 ports. These could be better located: one is on the back of the right edge and two, next to each other, are halfway down the left edge. It's the latter that are the worry: slotting a Vodafone Mobile Broadband dongle, for example, into one of the USB ports either obscures access to the other one or blocks out the FireWire (IEEE 1394a) port.

The left edge also houses the audio connectors and an ExpressCard slot. The right edge has a smartcard reader and the modem (RJ-11) and Ethernet (RJ-45) connectors. The front edge carries a reader for SD-compatible media, while the back edge has a VGA connector for an external monitor.

Performance & battery life
The EliteBook 6930p's Windows Experience Index overall rating of 3.4 (out of 5.9) is acceptable — it's the same score achieved by Toshiba's Portégé M750-10K, which uses the slightly slower P8400 processor.

As usual for a notebook with integrated graphics, the WEI score is dragged down by the graphics subsystem scores: Graphics (desktop performance for Windows Aero), 3.4; and Gaming Graphics (3D business and gaming graphics performance), 3.6.

The remaining three subsystems fared much better: RAM (Memory operations per second), 5.1, Primary hard disk (Disk data transfer rate), 5.3; and Processor (calculations per second), 5.3.

HP claims that the 6-cell Li-ion battery supplied with the review sample is good for six hours' life. An Extended-Life battery can provide 13 hours, while over 17 hours is claimed for the Ultra-Capacity battery. The latter is a £139 (ex. VAT) slab that fits onto the underside of the notebook.

To test battery life we fully charged the 6-cell unit and opted for HP's Optimized power plan which offers a balance between battery life and performance. We then asked the notebook to play a DVD movie for as long as possible, which turned out to be exactly three hours.

Conclusion
With no fewer than 19 EliteBook 6930p models available it could prove challenging for businesses to decide which one best suits their needs. Unfortunately, if you need integrated mobile broadband, there's only one available option. As for the rest, we would discount all those with the low screen resolution of our review sample, which narrows the field nicely. And if cost is a key consideration, you can also rule out the SSD-equipped models.

 

Specifications

General
Case form factor clamshell
Dimensions (W x H x D) 33.1x3.1x24.3 cm
Weight 2.1 kg
OS & software
Operating system Windows Vista Business (SuSE Linux Enterprise Desktop 10 available)
Chipset & memory
Chipset Mobile Intel GM45 Express
RAM installed 2048 MB
Number of memory slots 2
RAM capacity 8 GB
Video
VGA (analogue) 1
GPU Intel GMA 4500MHD
GPU type Dynamic Video Memory Technology
Display
Display technology colour TFT
Display size 14.1 in
Native resolution 1280x800 pixels
Connections
USB 3
FireWire (IEEE 1394) 1
ExpressCard ExpressCard/54
Flash card SD-compatible media
Networking
Ethernet integrated Gigabit Ethernet
Modem 56Kbps
Wireless
Wi-Fi 802.11a/b/g, Draft-N
Bluetooth 2.0+EDR
Mobile broadband optional
Input
Pointing devices 2-button touchpad, 2-button pointing stick
Keyboard full size
Audio
Audio connectors microphone, headphone
Speakers stereo
Audio processor High Definition Audio
Microphone dual array
Miscellaneous
Accessories AC adapter
Other smartcard reader, fingerprint reader, keyboard light
Service & support
Standard warranty 3 years
Battery
Battery technology Li-ion (6-cell)
Estimated battery life (mfr) 6 h
Hard drive
Rotation speed 5400 rpm
Hard drive interface SATA
Hard drive type standard
Hard drive capacity 160 GB
Optical storage
CD / DVD type DVD±RW (±R DL)/DVD-RAM
Processor & memory
Clock speed 2.53 GHz
Processor manufacturer Intel
Processor model Core 2 Duo T9400
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Topics: Laptops, Hardware, Reviews

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