If you're after a flashy ultraportable to show off to your friends, you can't do much better than the HP EliteBook 2530p.
At first glance, one might be forgiven for mistaking this tiny EliteBook for one of the bigger netbooks that have begun to appear on the market recently. With a diminutive 12.1-inch display, this machine is tiny.
However, appearances can be deceiving. Opening up the 2530p will reveal a keyboard that appears as large or larger than any keyboard we have seen on an ultraportable. But that's not to say that all the keys are "full size" as HP describes, with several of the keys, including the function and arrow keys, being smaller than the rest.
The design of the 2530p is much like its larger brother, the 14.1-inch 6930p, which we were impressed with. Above the keyboard you will find a series of touch-sensitive shortcut keys that provide access to mute, volume, wireless and presentation settings and HP's help centre.
The 12.1-inch display on the 2530p is matte, not glossy, which is standard on business notebooks, but is always a plus as it means no reflections. Like seemingly every 12-inch display, its native resolution is 1280x800 pixels.
The 2530p features both a trackpad and a "nipple mouse". The trackpad also includes a handy scroll bar on the right-hand side.
There are a couple of other small features that really make the design of the 2530p stand out. Firstly, on the left of the webcam at the top of the device is a tiny but quite bright light that points down at the keyboard. Secondly, HP's entire EliteBook range comes with scratch-resistant covers; lightly running keys, coins or even scissors across the cover of this device won't leave a mark.
HP has also managed to pack a lot of ports and expansion options into this tiny 12.1-inch device. For a start, there is an optical drive, which tends to disappear when devices approach this size. There is also an SD card reader, a FireWire port and a full-sized 54 ExpressCard slot. There are only two USB ports, but you don't generally see more on devices of this size.
Like all the most recent business laptops, the 2530p includes Intel's new Centrino 2 mobile platform. This means a more efficient CPU, draft 802.11n Wi-Fi as standard and a better internal chipset.
Under the hood you will find the 2530p powered by an Intel Core 2 Duo SL9400 at 2.1GHz. The SL9400 is one of Intel's high performance-per-Watt processors, meaning it will give you roughly three quarters of the performance of an Intel Core 2 Duo "Txxxx" processor, but it will extend your battery life.
While our system came with 2GB of 800MHz DDR2 RAM, this system can be upgraded to an extravagant 8GB to really give it serious punch. While our system came with 32-bit Windows XP, HP assures us that 64-bit Windows is available as a pre-install to support this extra RAM.
The sum of the EliteBook's specs produced a PCMark05 score of 3634. This means you can expect about three quarters of the performance of a full-sized performance-orientated business notebook and roughly four times the performance of a netbook.
One arena in which the 2530p does not perform in is graphics processing. While this isn't unusual for an ultraportable, this system comes without a discrete GPU, and one isn't available. This means games and high-end graphics are out. Yet, Intel's integrated 4500HDX chipsets actually aren't bad, which will still run a range of lower-end graphical applications.
One serious drawback of the EliteBook 2530p is its tinny sound. The lack of external speakers means you'll want a decent pair of headphones. Even then, don't expect exceptional sound from the 2530p's integrated sound card, but this isn't unusual for an ultraportable.
One part worth commenting on is the vPro chip which comes with the 2530p. This tiny chip on the motherboard allows remote access and reporting at the hardware level. In other words, in the event of a Blue Screen of Death, you will still be able to log into your 2530p remotely and see the BIOS, restart the machine and perform other functions.
Our 2530p came with an extended 55WHr six-cell battery, which sticks out the back of the system, increasing the size and weight. Still, we recommend these larger batteries, as they greatly extend battery life. In order to test battery life, we muted the sound, set the screen brightness to 50 per cent, and played a DVD until the machine went dark. This gave a solid result of three hours and 10 minutes, so you should expect close to a full day's computing from this system while performing normal tasks.
Before you consider buying an ultraportable, stop and think for a moment. What will you be using this machine for? If the answer is reading emails, web surfing and document editing, then seriously consider buying a netbook. This choice will save you about $2,000.
Though if you plan to use it for photo and video editing, graphical applications and other more strenuous activities, the HP EliteBook 2530p is a good choice. In the ultraportable space, the 2530p has a couple of high quality competitors; let's put them side-by-side.
In terms of specifications, the EliteBook is almost identical to the equivalent ultraportable from Dell, the Latitude E4300. Although, unless you desperately want an ambient light sensor and a backlit keyboard, go with the EliteBook 2530p, as it's about 10 per cent cheaper.
If you're after something cheaper again, you can go with the Toshiba Portege A600, which will save you around $500. However, this tiny Toshiba doesn't have the design flair or features of either the HP or Dell.
In summary, if you're after a flashy ultraportable to show off to your friends, you can't do much better than the HP EliteBook 2530p.
|Product Line||HP EliteBook|