There is a constant struggle in the Laptop industry between small and portable or big and powerful. I am not a fan of Netbooks because they are a little too small. I am also not a fan of BIG laptops because they are not portable enough. So when I look for a laptop I try and find something in the middle. The HP Elitebook 2530p is a 12″ laptop that is trying to fit somewhere in the middle.
- Sophisticated design that passes MIL-STD 810F testing
- Intel Centrino 2 with vPro capable with UfinLV or LV processors
- Choice of 1.8”, 2.5” SATA hard drive or SSD
- Enjoy wireless in more places
- Optional 2 MP Webcam with Business Card Reader Software
When HP built the EliteBook 2530p they not only built it to be portable, but they also built it to be durable. According to HP, the EliteBook 2530p meets the military standards (MIL-STD 810F) for high/low temperatures and dust.
The Intel Centrino 2 with vPro processors offer very low power usage which is great for small laptops because it helps the batteries to last longer.
There are 3 options for hard drives. If you choose a 1.8-inch HDD then you can also have an integrated optical drive. With a 2.5-inch HDD; you get higher performance. The last option is a SSD (Solid State Drive) which offers the best of both worlds, compatibility with the optical drive, and higher performance.
Wireless is nothing new in a laptop and the EliteBook 2530p does not vary far from the beaten path in this area. The wireless card supports 802.11 a/b/g/draft-n. There is also a Bluetooth 2.0 card in there for support for Bluetooth devices. HP also offers a built-in broadband wireless card options, AT&T or Verizon, for users who want to use a cell phone service to stay connected to the internet.
The 2 MP Webcam is one of the highest resolution cameras I have seen built into a laptop. It serves many purposes including, video chats and scanning business cards.
From the outside, the HP EliteBook 2530p does not seem like much. The 2530p features a DuraCase lid, made from brushed anodized aluminum and magnesium alloy. There is a raised HP logo in the middle of the lid. However, despite appearances the EliteBook 2530p is built to be tough.
On the right side there are many items including an SD card reader, FireWire port, headphone and microphone jack, a USB port, VGA, and a Express Card/54 at the very back. The Express Card port doubles as a docking port with the HP dock.
The left side also has a few items including the DVD drive, a USB port, modem jack, and a power port.
On the back is the battery and an Ethernet port.
The bottom has several removable panels that allow access to things like the hard drive, memory, and the wireless and Bluetooth cards. Each one of these parts is easily accessible and user replaceable. One of the other things I like about the bottom is that the Windows Product Key sticker is covered by a plastic protective cover. This is a small but appreciated effort that prevents the key from wearing off over time. I have had this happen on my personal laptop so I know it can be a problem.
The speaker is also found on the bottom of the EliteBook 2530p. I say speaker in the singular because there is only one. This mono speaker does an okay job at playing sounds, but I would not recommend it for anything except system sounds and other simple audio. If you are in a big room or there is background noise this little speaker is easily drowned out. The location of the speaker does not help the situation. The speaker is located on the bottom front of the laptop it is aiming down and toward the user, you can see it in the picture above.
The EliteBook 2530p comes with a 6-cell battery, but because of how small the laptop is, the battery sticks out of the back.
The very front of the laptop features a few status lights, a business card holder (we will talk about this later), and a lid lock release button.
When I first opened up the laptop I noticed that the screen is not glossy. This actually made a big impression on me because I don’t like glossy screens. I also noticed that the screen is not widescreen. Now that most laptops have moved to widescreen I like it a lot more than standard screens. Other than that the screen is fairly normal.
Above the screen is a webcam and a small light. The light is meant to be a keyboard light, but it does not do a very good job unless it is really dark. Even then, when typing my hands covered the light and I could not see the keys. For the most part I can touch type, but every once and a while I have to look at the keyboard to remember when the special characters are. I would have preferred a backlit keyboard, it may have used more power, but if there was a dimmer switch I could turn it down, or off, when not in use.
Below the screen is a small light sensor that, when activated, will cause the screen to dim if it detects that it is dark. The idea of a light sensor is nice, but the implementation is flawed. I found that as I typed, my hands would sometimes create a shadow that would cover the sensor and cause the screen to constantly dim and brighten as I moved my hands. I usually kept this disabled because it was more annoying than useful.
The keyboard is okay, I say that because I have my usual complaints. Like the Ctrl key is too small and I tend to hit the fn key. However, the feel of the keyboard is really nice. You will notice that the arrow keys are not crammed into a tight space, this is nice if you use the arrows a lot.
Above the keyboard is the power button and a touch panel. The touch panel has several touch points that when pressed, preform different actions. The actions, starting on the left, are information, wireless on/off, presentation mode, touchpad on/off, mute and a volume slider. Each of the buttons responded nicely to touch and would change color when on or off. The only one I had trouble with it is the volume slider. When I would slide my finger up or down, the volume would jump around and normally did not move very far. I would often have to slide my finger 4 or 5 times to get the volume all the way up or down. Also the volume would not change if I held down the + or – buttons.
Below the keyboard is the touchpad. I didn’t have any trouble with the touchpad or the corresponding buttons. The EliteBook 2530p also has a pointing stick in the middle of the keyboard, but I am not a fan of those so I don’t use them. The buttons for the pointing stick are right below the space bar. The touchpad also has a DuraFinish which will help keep the oils from your fingertips from collecting on the touchpad and making it look worn.
To the right of the touchpad is a fingerprint reader. Fingerprint readers are starting to show up on more laptops, especially those for business users who want extra security. However, I have yet to use one on a regular bases. I find that they get in the way more than anything. HP’s implementation is especially troublesome because it is placed exactly where I like to rest my palm when typing. Every time I rest my hand on the palm rest it activates the reader and causes the reader software to start up and get in my way.
The palm rest, just like the touchpad, has a DuraFinish. This finish gives it a little extra protection from scratches and wear which are normally seen on laptops. This should help to keep your laptop looking new, longer.
Performance on little laptops, like the EliteBook 2530p, is not about how fast it goes, but rather can it do the job and how long the battery lasts. Our EliteBook 2530p came with the Intel SL9400 low voltage processor, with a clock speed of 1.86GHz, and 6MB of cache. For graphics, HP uses the Intel GMA 4500MHD integrated graphics chip. I don’t expect really high scores, but I do expect that it will be able to complete the tests.
Despite the above statement I still wanted to get an idea of the speed of the machine. As you can see from the numbers the speed is very low. The two tests I used are 3DMark 06 and PCMark 05. In 3DMark the EliteBook 2530p got 875 and in PCMark it did not get an overall score, but you can see the individual scores are low, but okay. These numbers are disappointing, but not surprising, hopefully it does better in the next test.
The next test is a battery test and I used MobileMark 2007 for this. MobileMark does a good job testing battery life under working conditions because it runs programs like Office and Photoshop, all while keeping track of the running time. For the first battery test I used the MobileMark 2007 default power settings and I got 5 hours and 27 minutes. For the second test I modified the Windows Power Saver settings so that it would not turn off automatically when the battery got low, and I lowered the screen brightness to the lowest. With these settings I got an amazing 7 hours and 36 minutes; however, the MobileMark performance rating was cut in half. I would love to see what the optional 9-cell battery could do.
During all these tests I never noticed the laptop get very loud or hot. The laptop remained comfortable to hold on my lap and I could hardly hear it.
Now to the business card scanner. The thought of having a business card scanner built into a business laptop appealed to me, but when I first heard about this feature I was a bit confused about how it would work. It is simple to do, but a little difficult to explain so bear with me while I try. To scan a business card you have to place the card in a slot in the front of the laptop. This can be difficult the first time because the slot is very small and hard to find. Then you have to start the scanning software, the EliteBook 2530p comes with BizCard, which has all the functionality built-in. The last, and possibly most difficult, step is to lower the lid to the correct position. Finding the correct lid position is a process that requires great patience. To help, the computer will emit a high pitched sound as you lower the lid. As the lid gets closer to the correct position the high pitched sound gets higher. When you have reached the correct position the camera will take a picture and make a camera shutter sound. The software will then analyze the card and detect and fill in the proper fields. Overall the card scanning process works fairly well once you get the hang of it. If you have multiple cards to scan there is a mode that can be use that does not require you to constantly raise and lower the screen, just switch the cards and the camera will snap. This process could be made easier if there was a catch in the lid hinge that would stop the lid when it got to the correct position.
One thing I need to give HP credit for is their fantastic system restore disks. Rather than providing one disk that restores the system to factory settings, they provide two disks. The first one will do a clean install of the OS. The second disk has the drivers and applications, but you get to chose which drivers and apps it installs. This is a fantastic system that I hope finds its way into HP’s consumer products.
Warranty and Support
HP Service offers a limited 3-year standard parts and labor warranty, pick-up or carry-in, and toll-free 7 x 24 hardware technical phone support; 1-year limited warranty on primary battery. On-site service and warranty upgrades are also available. The warranty upgrade options are many and varied. HP has broken up the upgrades into 7 different categories which range from Pickup and Return to Travel Next Business Day. There are too many to talk about here, so if you are interested you can look them up on the HP website.
Overall I am impressed with the laptop. The performance is fairly low, but I kind of expected this because of the size of the laptop. However, the battery life more than makes up for the low performance, the battery life is absolutely amazing. If you are looking for a laptop with really long battery life this is definitely the machine for you. I personally think most business laptop users care more about battery life than they do about bleeding edge performance. I think HP’s biggest hurdle is going to be the price. At around $2000 this is going to be a bit steep for a lot of users, especially in this economy. If you can get past the cost, and battery life and small size are the most import aspects of a laptop, then this is certainly a great buy.
|JusTech'n editors' rating|