Choosing a notebook PC is somewhat personal, because there are
different things that are important to different people. In business,
it usually depends on what you’re using it for. If you travel you may
want light weight, durability and long battery life; if you give a lot
of presentations or work with multimedia you may want bigger screen
size, better graphics and sound.
Sometimes you’ll need to pay up for the high end enterprise model
and occasionally you’ll be able to get by with a cheap consumer model.
But overall, a lot of small businesses are mostly looking to balance
features and price to get the job done.
latest line of notebooks from HP, the ProBook series, is geared toward
those small businesses, filling the performance and price gap between
their EliteBook enterprise brand and Compaq consumer notebooks, and
competing with the Dell Vostro and Lenovo Thinkpad.
I recently tried out a pre-production model of the ProBooks 4510s. Pricing for the line starts at $599 but the configuration that I tested
costs $749. It comes with a 15.6 inch display, Windows Vista Business
(yes, you can get XP if you want it), 2GB 800 MHz DDR2 SDRAM, 250GB
The most valuable part of ANY business computer is not the computer
itself. It’s the data stored inside. The ProBook has several features
in its HP ProtectTools to enhance security:
- HP SpareKey – you can set up your login so that you must
answer three security questions correctly in order to get in to the
system if you’ve forgotten your password.
- Drive Encryption – will fully encrypt all information on
the hard drive so the data is unreadable by unauthorized users if the
notebook or hard drive is lost or stolen. This is another reason you’d
probably want to utilize the SpareKey feature described above – if
you’re prone to forgetting your password.
- File Sanitizer – this tool will overwrite the entire hard
drive with ones and zeros up to seven times, so that no files can be
recovered. (According to HP the seven passes of overwriting is military
grade but I did not verify that info.)
- Recovery Manager – the entire system can be restored back
to the original factory condition just by pressing F11 during startup.
No CD or other software is needed. This can be handy if you are taking
the notebook from one employee and giving it to someone else,
especially if you don’t have an IT department to clean it up for you.
Look & Feel
The 4510s comes in “noir” and “merlot” – this test model was noir.
The easiest way to describe the finish is that it’s like having a black
car. It looks really nice, slick and shiny… when it’s clean. But it
doesn’t take much to get it dirty – the shiny outer case and the matte
finish on the inside show every smudge and fingerprint.
At first the whole notebook felt very wide because the high
definition, LED-backlit 15.6”-diagonal screen is shaped in a widescreen
The big screen allows room for a full numeric keypad next to the
qwerty keyboard, which I loved. However that means that the main
keyboard and the touchpad are slightly off to the left and not in the
middle, which feels awkward when typing with the laptop actually on
your lap. On the desk I didn’t notice it. The keys are raised
“chicklet” style with space between each key and have a nice springy
yet quiet feel. The touchpad mouse is nice and large, but the buttons
are hard to press with your thumb, if that’s your mousing style.
The speakers are located across the top of the keyboard, which looks
cool and makes lots of room for the keyboard, but the sound is just ok.
I found the quality fine for listening to a recorded teleseminar, but
tinny when playing music. They might be less than ideal if you make a
lot of presentations that depend on a rich sound.
Strength & Endurance