Review: HP EliteBook 2570p

HP 2570p notebook aims to please business travelers (February 18th, 2013)

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Product Manufacturer: HP

Price: $949

The Good

  • Solid construction
  • Metal lid and chassis top
  • Multitude of ports
  • Decent performance

The Bad

  • Thick
  • Tiny trackpad
  • Premium price

HP's EliteBook 2570p is the latest notebook in what the company describes as its "business rugged" category. The 12.5-inch model is designed to hold up to the moderate abuse while on the go, taking advantage of aluminum and magnesium to protect against bumps and the rigors of daily use as a tool. Check out our full review to see how the 2570p stacks up against the competition.

Design

Like most of HP's business offerings, the 2570p is not meant to be flashy. In fact, it is about as visually generic as a metal-shrouded notebook can get, but we did not find it to be displeasing or cheap in appearance.

A magnesium alloy is used for the top of the chassis and behind the display, though the bottom of the chassis and the display bezel are both plastic. We tend to prefer the full metal enclosures, such as Apple's unibody construction, however in some cases plastic or composites are better materials to provide flex without permanently deforming or breaking.





HP appears to have paid close attention to certain details that frequently serve as weak points in notebook construction. The hinges are aluminum and appear to be robustly mounted to the lid and chassis. The action is smooth, and we like the ability to rotate the screen 180 degrees for a completely flat layout that could prove beneficial when trying to work on an airplane.

The "business rugged" concept has also been applied to the keyboard, which is spill resistant and coated with a special finish geared for long-term durability. The entire computer is not waterproof like HP's fully-rugged models, but its solid construction and spill resistance provide enough durability for indoor or in-vehicle use without adding excessive cost and weight.

The keyboard was easy for us to get used to, offering a similar layout and tactile feedback to many other chiclet-equipped notebooks. The trackpad is extremely small, as HP chose to integrate a pair of buttons on both the top and bottom edges. Users can alternatively switch to a pointing stick in the center of the keyboard, which takes inspiration from Lenovo's ThinkPad notebooks.





Display

The 12.5-inch display brings 1366x768 resolution, essentially matching the industry standard for the 12-inch class. We found the LCD panel to be bright, and the antiglare finish helps aid readability in direct sunlight. Unfortunately the notebook does not take advantage of IPS technology for wide viewing angles.

When working in a dark room, users will notice that the keyboard is not backlit. We were surprised to discover a pop-out LED beside the webcam as an alternative to traditional backlighting. This is unlikely to be a deal breaker unless a buyer frequently works in low-light conditions.

The webcam supports 720p video capture for Skype or other conferencing utilities. A dual-mic setup is a bonus, potentially helping to reduce background noise, though we were not using the notebook in an environment that could properly test this feature.





Connection, storage options

If the robust construction is not enough justification for the 2570p's premium price, many business users may find the wide range of ports to be indispensable. The notebook is not the smallest in the ultraportable segment, but it does offer almost every common port alongside an ExpressCard expansion slot and a docking connector for even more options.

For business that implement security controls, a biometric fingerprint scanner sits beside the trackpad and a Smart Card reader is available on the side. HP pairs the hardware features with its Client Security software for Windows 8, along with a variety of other encryption and protection utilities.

A USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 port are located on the back of the notebook, which is a bit inconvenient. Connecting an external display can be accomplished via VGA or DisplayPort, while an RJ-11 connector sits beside the Gigabit Ethernet port.

The 2570p is available with an optical drive, or the space can be used for additional storage. External storage can also be attached via eSATA, which doubles as the only USB port on the side of the chassis, and the SD slot makes it easy to offload photos or video from cameras.





Performance

HP provides a wide range of Intel processor options, including standard-voltage i3, i5 and i7 chips up to 3GHz. Our test model arrived with the dual-core 2.5GHz Core i5-3210M chip, 4GB of RAM and a 500GB hard drive.

The standard-voltage chips typically provide a bit more performance than many of their ultra-low voltage brethren. Generally, the 2570p is quick enough to handle typical productivity software, web browsing and other common tasks without any noticeable lag. Our Geekbench benchmarking scores averaged around 6800. As expected, without discrete graphics and one of the faster quad-core i7 chips, our review model would not serve well as a gaming powerhouse or workstation.

We did not put the battery through extensive testing in different conditions, but we did achieve approximately five hours during mixed use with the display brightness around the middle setting. The six-cell battery in our configuration sticks out of the back of the device, a necessary tradeoff for extra life beyond what can be provided by the flush three-cell battery.



Final thoughts

The 2570p is certainly a strong contender in the business ultraportable category. We were impressed by its solid build and diverse connection options. The device is not without competition, however, with Asus' B23E and Lenovo's ThinkPad X230 making compelling alternatives without jumping far above the 2570p's $950 price tag.

by Justin King


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