Review: HP Elitebook 2530P

The next time you see some miserable drone hunched over his tiny, underpowered netbook, pecking away at cramped keys and straining to see the screen, pull out your EliteBook 2530p and laugh. Though not much larger or heavier than your average mini-note, HP’s lappie is fast and feature-packed, not feature-sacked. Granted, you could buy roughly half a dozen netbooks for about the same price, but with this machine you actually can use it for something, you know, useful.

What constitutes as useful? Well let’s say you need to crunch a big fat spreadsheet. Hash it out on the 2530’s dual-core processor. Trying to finish your novel? Bang away on full-size keys. The in-flight movie sucks? Pop in a DVD: The EliteBook’s six-cell battery can handle a screening of Hancock and leave you more than enough juice to blog about the incredibly crappy second act. That battery bumps the travel weight to just under four pounds, not bad considering that most netbooks weigh a little over three. Plus, you get a 12.1-inch screen out of the deal; not some eye-wrecking 9-incher.

For such a compact customer, the EliteBook packs a plethora of amenities. There’s a keyboard light for working in the dark. There’s a 2-megapixel webcam for discernable video conferencing. And bundled software turns that webcam into a business-card scanner — just slip a card into the slot on the front bezel and the point the webcam at it. That’s pretty freakin’ cool, though we can’t remember the last time someone handed us a physical business card.

HP also stuffs the EliteBook with the kinds of security features that bring tears of joy to IT bosses’ eyes, like a fingerprint reader, a password manager, and drive encryption. Alas, it’s equally secure against goofing off, what with its lite-speed integrated graphics. Even older games like Doom 3 could barely choke out 10 frames per second. When HP says this is a business-class notebook, they really mean it’s a business only-class notebook.

But a good one. Damn good. The EliteBook offers solid application performance, lots of genuinely useful features, and coast-to-coast battery life, all in a compact, durable shell. So suck it, netbooks. When we travel for work, we want a notebook. Preferably this one.

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