Over the last couple of years I have reviewed the Hewlett-Packard (HP) Elitebook 8440w and 2540p, declaring them each as a laptop that I would love to be able to keep and use in my daily life, and as the two of the best business laptops I’d ever used. Well, HP has taken everything that made the 2540p and made it better in the form of the Elitebook 2570p! Let’s take a look!
The Hewlett-Packard Elitebook 2570p Notebook PC allows you to “stay connected and productive on the go—without getting weighed down. Starting at just 3.6 lb, the durable HP EliteBook 2570p is one HP’s smallest and lightest EliteBook (THE lightest and smallest is now the 2170), designed for maximum portability and uncompromised performance.”
• Compact, lightweight design with a 12.5-inch diagonal LED display starts at only 3.6 lb
• Extensive wireless connectivity options—HP Mobile Broadband (customer upgradeable), Wi-Fi CERTIFIED™ WLAN and Bluetooth®
• Meets tough military standards (MIL-STD 810G) for vibration, dust, humidity, altitude and extreme temperatures
• The full-size, spill-resistant keyboard with drains protects the system board from minor spills, while HP DuraKeys keep your keyboard looking newer, longer
• Travel confidently with the magnesium-alloy casing, hardened-steel pin axels and scratch-resistant HP DuraFinish
• Automatically protect hard-drive data from drops and sudden impact with HP 3D DriveGuard
Security and convenience:
• Centrally manage security policy with the latest HP ProtectTools mobile PC security infrastructure solution. The HP EliteBook 2570p also includes optional vPro out of band management.
• Access e-mail, calendars, contacts and websites without waiting to boot up using HP QuickLook 3 and HP QuickWeb
Environmentally responsible design:
• The HP EliteBook 2570p is made with a minimum of 12% recycled plastic.
• EPEAT® Gold registered in the United States. EPEAT registration varies by country. See epeat.net for registration status by country.
Overview and Impressions:
In the time since I reviewed the Elitebook 2540p, I have declared the iPad my 90% computer, moved to the iPad Mini for most of my daily personal stuff, and had a HP Elitebook 8460p as my main work PC for more than a year (after using a HP 6910p for four years). The Elitebook 2570p is very similar to the Elitebook 2540p in many ways, but with a slightly larger screen and better internals, and that is what this review will reflect. The specifics will detail how the older core design holds up, and exactly what those ‘new internals’ mean for performance and usability.
I once again copied the bulk of the HP press release in terms of specs into the product description, because there is actually a lot of stuff there, and it is really cool – but I was able to check out very little of the ‘Easy to use’ stuff. That is because of corporate security and other boring details, but suffice to say that what I saw matched up with the claims.
There are ‘build to order’ as well as pre-configured options available to customize the Elitebook series, here is the unit I tested:
– Windows 7 Professional 64-Bit
– Intel® Core™ i5-3230M with Intel HD Graphics 4000 (2.6 GHz, 3 MB cache, 2 cores)
– 4 GB 1600 MHz DDR3 SDRAM
– 500 GB SED SATA II (7200 rpm)
– DVD+/-RW SuperMulti with Double Layer
– 12.5″ diagonal LED-backlit WXGA anti-glare (1280 x 800)
– Intel HD 4000 Graphics
– Mobile Intel® QM77 Express
– Battery Type: 6-cell (62 WHr) Li-Ion
– Battery Life: Up to 9 hours and 15 minutes
I have always loved the build quality of HP laptops … and when I say ‘always’, I note that I have been using HP laptops since the Omnibook 300 twenty years ago, and I have yet to own one I disliked.
My work laptops have been all HP since starting at Corning 5 years ago, a 6910p for the first four years and now an Elitebook 8460p. So I am very accustomed to how the HP hardware behaves. I am also very used to lugging a laptop from facility to facility, on planes, being tossed in bags, dumping things on top of it and doing all sorts on inadvisable hot-swapping and reconfiguring of docking systems and external devices and so on. In this regard HP has always come through for me.
The EliteBook 2570p continues the evolution of the HP Compaq series of business laptops. When I tested the 8440w, I remarked on how I could see the direct evolution, and with the 2540p I could see how that would fit as the portable option to the more powerful 8440w. But they all share a much more rigid feel, a brushed gun-metal exterior, and much more solid closing mechanisms (the 2570p doesn’t use a mechanical latch). They are built for the rigors of daily use and to really last the 2-3 year replacement cycle most companies have adopted – and not in the way most cell phones come limping into the end of a two-year contract, either!
I noted the MIL-STD 810G testing, and the 2570p passed 7 different tests including: Dust, Operational Vibration, Shock, Altitude, Transit Drop Test, High Temperature, and Temperature Shock. Which again says a lot for a laptop most likely to find heavy use in the boardroom and around the office. But also reflects my experience with HP’s Elitebook series.
My review unit was rock solid and in perfect condition. As with previous laptops, I was clearly not the first tester of the unit, but it remained in like-new condition. I didn’t have a single build-related issue with the 2570p throughout my test.
The use-case for a so-called ‘ultraportable’ is very clear: to be small and light enough to be able to go anywhere the user needs a ‘real’ computer. This was true with the Compaq LTE, the Apple Powerbook Duo, the HP Omnibook 300 and other subnotebook pioneers of the early 90’s, and it remains true now. In fact, now more than ever it is important that ‘ultraportables’ manage to fill the ‘primary computer’ slot, as smartphones and tablets have taken over the secondary-screen position.
Let me be clear – this is NOT an ‘ultrabook’ competitor, nor is HP marketing it that way. The 2570p is billed as ‘business rugged’, meaning it is meant to handle the rigors of being in and out of the office every day. Also, the 2570p has plenty of ports and a built-in DVD drive that allows it to function as a stand-alone computer.
In order to meet all of the requirements for the niche, an ultraportable now needs solid performance across a wide range of tasks. As noted in the system specifications, the 2570p comes with a low power Core i7 processor and high-speed memory, indicating that it should certainly be up to the task of mainstream computing tasks. I will get into details about performance later in the review.
Looking at the system specifications on the surface, the 2570p doesn’t look like the classic ‘compromise system’ of yesteryear such as my Toshiba Portege. Back then you traded portability for performance – and still paid a premium! The 2570p has solid specifications that are better than most laptops you could buy at your local Best Buy for $750 or more … all put into a rock-solid container with high quality components and a reasonably svelte frame (again, this is NOT a Macbook Air competitor).
One thing that had surprised me with the 2540p was the presence of an internal optical drive. It isn’t that having a DVD is unheard of in the category – particularly for a business application. It is simply that when I pulled the laptop out of the box I thought it was too thin and packed with connections to have space for an optical drive. HP accomplished this by having the battery protrude out of the back, but it was definitely a welcome surprise. I was glad that HP chose to continue with the optical drive in the 2570p.
The Elitebook comes with a Core i5-3230M at 269GHz, which is one of the low-power dual core i5 processors in the latest 22nm Intel generation of processors. The processor is considerably faster than the majority of laptop processors available, yet still dissipates just 35W. I was interested in seeing how the ‘real world’ battery performance met up with my habit of turning everything up to ‘maximum performance’.
Since my goal was to evaluate this not as a ‘secondary’ computer but as a primary-use system, my testing involved numerous applications I use on a regular basis at my workplace that I was able to install on a trial basis on the laptop. These included Microsoft Office, JMP Statistical Analysis software from SAS Institute, Minitab Statistical Analysis software, and the open-source R data modeling software. I also hooked up to my account on music streaming provider Spotify to see how the added workload would impact the system.
When a system boasts a 64-bit operating system, 4GB of high-speed memory and a latest generation Core i5 processor at a high clock speed, there is not much concern about how well it scrolls text in Word or how quickly it opens tabs in Google Chrome. Suffice to say that for the majority of tasks that any general business worker would need – email, web, Microsoft Office, etc – the 2570p is a peppy machine more than adequate to the task.
While I fully expected the Elitebook 8440w Mobile Workstation to be a powerhouse with my more demanding applications, I was concerned that the 2570p would be powerful enough given it has been a while since the 2540p came out. Too often I have seen laptops that tout seemingly solid specs but suffer from the compromises made to keep size small or price down.
I will say it once again – this is NOT a compromise machine!
One area I immediately noticed was drive speed. Whereas the 2540p had a 5400RPM disk, the 2570p has a full 7200RPM drive, and you can see the difference when moving around large bunches of files or loading games.
Once again the powerful Core i5 does very well when pushing the computations. I have moved to a new project since reviewing the 8440w and 2540p, and in the new project I am dealing with data files having hundreds of thousands of rows and hundreds of columns – and having many such files open at once, all while performing complex matrix and neural net calculations on the data streams. Of course, no single program performs all tasks, so I had multiple programs to get everything I want from the data sets, which means having large files loaded in multiple applications, all while having Chrome open for web access to my work email and so on.
I was thrilled by the way that the 2540p handled all of my data analysis needs. The biggest constraint was the 12.5″ screen, but given my penchant for portable devices that wasn’t a big deal. Quite frankly – most office users have a docking station and monitor at their desk and deal with the trade-off between portability and screen size long before their computer arrives.
Whereas the Elitebook 2540p came with “Intel HD Graphics”, the 2570p ships with “Intel HD Graphics 4000”. While that might not seem like a huge difference – trust me when I say it makes all the difference in the world. Or at least between playing games or not. Intel continues making major strides with their integrated graphics chips, so now pretty much every new laptop is a reasonable gaming machine.
So whereas with the 2540p about all I did was install Magicka to try it out and note the issues, with the 2570p I turned it into a gaming machine!
One of the first things I did was to install the recently released Bioshock Infinite on the 2570p as well as my gaming PC laptop. My assumption was that it would chug and stutter on the 2570p and I would note that and move on. But imagine my surprise when I was able to play fluidly and without sacrificing graphics quality. And as a note, EVERY ONE of the screens from our massive dual-system review came from the 2570p.
I also installed games such as the upcoming MMORPG Neverwinter (screens are from the 2570p), Star Wars The Old Republic, Driftmoon, and many more. I never had a single performance issue.
But once again, the focus of this system is business graphics, so I spent more time pouring on thousands of data points into scatterplot matrices, multiple-regressions, bubble plots with multiple levels, and on and on. In this context the 2570p vastly outperformed my expectations, with a snappiness that reminded me of my 8460p, and far exceeding the performance of my the 2540p or even the 8440w!
And that is exactly the sort of thing you need in a business setting – you just want to get your tasks done as quickly and efficiently as possible without any fanfare.
Sometimes forgetting something is the best way to do something you never seemed to get to otherwise. That was the case with battery testing the 2570p – I meant to do it, but until I was in a hotel room with the 2570p and my charger was at my desk in the remote work facility I never pushed the battery life.
My plan was to do some web-related stuff like work on a few reviews and cruise Facebookm, send some emails and then delve deep into Neverwinter. But without a charger? Well, while I was working on web stuff I put the system into ‘power saver’ mode, but then for gaming it was all ‘maximum performance’! I played Neverwinter and Star Wars The Old Republic (Neverwinter had an outage after a couple of hours … perils of Beta) and got more than 4 hours of battery before closing the lid for the night.
In the morning I was still able to go through my morning email, Facebook and RSS stuff, as well as plugging in my Garmin after my run. After all of that I still had more than 10% battery remaining – which is excellent and unexpected!
HP Value-Added Features
HP is touting their QuickLook and QuickWeb features, and for the business traveler I can imagine that there is definitely a usefulness. I wasn’t able to make use of QuickLook due to security constraints with my Outlook data, but it looked to be a useful tool with some nice features. Similarly QuickWeb is a fast and streamlined way to do something fast and simple on the Web without having to boot into Windows.
I am torn on my opinion of those utilities. On the one hand, as I say I can see the use case. But in the business travel I have done recently, anyone who has a work laptop with them in an airport or out at a restaurant also has a smartphone. I can easily check my email, calendar or a website on my phone quicker than on the Elitebook. And finally, most companies buying the Elitebook 2570p are installing a corporate image that has very specific usage and configuration constraints and would not likely allow for these features to be enabled. That is true with my company and a couple of others I know that are using HP laptops.
What I don’t Like
There is no such thing as a perfect … well, anything! So naturally there are things with the HP Elitebook 2540p that I wish could be changed or done differently.
First, rather than using a lighted keyboard the 2570p has the same top-light as the 8440w and 2540p. I have noticed that some new employees at my work getting new HP laptops with backlit keyboards, and there is a marked difference. The work light is a great thing in low-light situations, but as Apple has shown with their Powerbooks for several years now, a backlit keyboard is always better. Especially since I encountered issues with the pop-out light on my 8440w review system last year.
The other thing is one compromise made for portability that I found slightly annoying on the 2540p, but that really bothered me on the 2570p – the trackpad is tiny and not very useful for more than trivial tasks. I can only assume that because i was using the Lenovo S10 netbook and Alienware m11x at the same time as the 2540p, I was used to tiny trackpads. But now that I am using mostly my work Elitebook 8460p and my personal Macbook Pro, the tiny 2570p trackpad was a major productivity hit – I needed to plug in an external mouse to get any real work done.
But neither of those are major complaints, just minor criticisms – I used the light quite often at night and always carried an external mouse.
I had said that my major complaint about the Elitebook 8440w was that I had to return it … but as of now I would gladly trade the 8440w for the 2570p due to portability and performance!
For me the 2570p represents a great evolutionary moment in business laptops: it looks great, is rock-solid, has excellent performance, is loaded with options and connectivity, and is light and small enough to toss in my smallest bag without issue.
As noted, the HP Elitebook 2570p is not competing in the $400 laptop market – it is going for the business segment, which demands higher build-quality, manageability, and price-to-performance ratio. The 2540p delivers on all fronts! If you or your business are looking for a solid ultraportable with top-notch performance, the HP Elitebook 2570p is a great choice!
Review: Hewlett-Packard Elitebook 2570p
Where to Buy: HP.com
Price: $1,629.00* (base model is $954) The closest configuration to the unit I tested is here.
What I Like: Great looks for a business machine; excellent general performance; solid graphics performance; excellent balance of features
What Needs Improvement: While the light is a nice addition, by now all of their products should have shifted to lighted keyboards.
Source: Manufacturer provided review unit