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HP ProBook 5310m

<p> HP's ProBook range is aimed at smaller businesses requiring capable, reliable and reasonably stylish notebooks without a premium price tag attached. The ultraportable <a href="http://h10010.www1.hp.com/wwpc/uk/en/sm/WF25a/321957-321957-64295-3955552-3955552-4021356.html">5310m</a> models start at £440 (ex. VAT) and certainly meet the price and looks criteria; it turns out they're pretty good performers too. </p>
Written by Sandra Vogel, Contributor

HP ProBook 5310m (Core 2 Duo SP9300 2.26GHz, 2GB RAM, 320GB HDD, Windows 7 Professional)

7.6 / 5

pros and cons

  • Well made and stylish
  • Superb 13.3in
  • display
  • Good-quality keyboard
  • Functional dual-boot system
  • No optical drive
  • Short on ports and connectors
  • Editors' review
  • Specs

HP's ProBook range is aimed at smaller businesses requiring capable, reliable and reasonably stylish notebooks without a premium price tag attached. The ultraportable 5310m models start at £440 (ex. VAT) and certainly meet the price and looks criteria; it turns out they're pretty good performers too.

When it was announced, HP said the 5310m was the "world's thinnest full-performance notebook". We're not going to get drawn into measuring one set of specifications against another and arguing about semantics, but the 5310m is certainly thin — 2.35cm thin to be precise. The footprint is 32.8cm wide by 22.1cm deep and the notebook weighs 1.7kg.

The lid section is made from black anodised aluminum and looks rather fetching, as well as providing good protection for the display. The shiny finish to the inside is scratch resistant, but attracts fingerprints — HP must be aware of this, as the notebook ships with a cleaning cloth.

The chiclet-style keyboard is spill resistant, and the individual keys deliver good tactile feedback. The keys may be slightly too far apart for people with small hands, though: we certainly had to learn to spread the fingers out a little more than usual before reaching full touch-typing speed.

The touchpad, which incorporates a vertical scroll zone, feels smooth under the fingers and is comfortable to use. The buttons are well weighted and responsive, although when aiming for them we found ourselves instinctively reaching for the edge of the casing and overshooting.

The right side of the keyboard has the Del, Home, PgUp, PgDn and End keys arranged vertically. The inverted-T cursor control keys are a little small and slightly dislocated from the rest of the keyboard. They have no secondary functions, which is a pity — we'd have liked to see volume controls here, for example. Instead, the volume controls are on the half-height row of Fn keys that sit above the number row.

To the far right of the keyboard are three small round buttons. These barely depress at all and we found them fiddly to use. One toggles Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, one runs the QuickWeb service and the other accesses the QuickLook service. More on the latter two later.

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The screen is outstanding. Measuring 13.3in. across the diagonal it has a native resolution of 1,366 by 768 pixels and is impressively sharp and bright. Horizontal viewing angles are superb, vertical angles a little less so but still good. Above the screen is a 2-megapxiel webcam.

The HP ProBook 5310m runs Windows 7 Professional and is available in several configurations, the least expensive of which has a 1.2GHz Intel Celeron SU2300 processor and 1GB of RAM. Our £616 (ex. VAT) review model had a 2.26GHz Core 2 Duo P9300 with 2GB of RAM.

Hard drives range from 160GB to 320GB in capacity. Wi-Fi (802.11a/b/g/n) and Bluetooth (2.1+EDR) are included in all models, and you can specify integrated mobile broadband too. Gigabit Ethernet is also present across the board.

We mentioned the QuickWeb and QuickLook buttons. Although Windows 7 is the primary operating system, there's also a secondary OS for fast-boot to access Outlook data and the web. When the notebook is hibernating or switched off, pressing the QuickWeb button opens up a browser window. It's quite sophisticated, supporting tabbed browsing and offering some system controls for volume and screen brightness, as well as a battery monitor. You can set the browser to run in 'protected mode', in which case it does not save any session activity data. The QuickLook button gives you access to Outlook's Calendar, Contacts, Inbox and Tasks data. Both systems boot quickly and may be enough to get you through some tasks without the need to boot into Windows.

So far, so impressive, but one missing feature may put many users off this notebook: it lacks an optical drive. Although netbooks and many ultraportables lack an optical drive, an otherwise capable system like the ProBook 5310m would definitely benefit from one.

Ports and connectors are also on the sparse side. The left edge has a single USB port, a DisplayPort connector for an external monitor and an Ethernet (RJ-45) port. The USB port and DisplayPort connector are quite close together and may not be accessible at the same time, depending on the size of the USB peripheral used. The right edge has a reader for SD-compatible media, a headphone jack and two further USB ports.

Performance & battery life
The Windows Experience Index (WEI) overall rating of 3.4 (now out of 7.9 for Windows 7) is rather disappointing. The overall rating, which corresponds to the lowest component score is held back by graphics performance, thanks to the integrated Intel GMA 4500MHD chipset: Gaming Graphics (3D business and gaming graphics performance) gets 3.4, while Graphics (desktop performance for Windows Aero) gets 3.8.

The remaining component scores are much more respectable: 5.5 for RAM (Memory operations per second), 5.7 for Processor (calculations per second) and 5.9 for Primary hard disk (Disk data transfer rate).

The ProBook 5410m is supplied with a 4-cell battery that HP claims will deliver up to seven hours' life. The battery housing is on the bottom of the casing rather than on the back, so options for adding a higher-capacity alternative are limited.

Anecdotally, we were able to use the notebook for just over five hours from a full battery, with some internet access over Wi-Fi during that time.

Business users looking for a touch of ultraportable elegance might be drawn to the ProBook 5310m for its chassis design, well-made keyboard and superb 13.3in. screen. The absence of an optical drive may be a deal-breaker for some though.