The HP Probook 4230s keeps its cool and does the job with some room to spare.
By GOH XI NING
This is probably not the notebook you'd look at when window shopping.
Let's face it, it's more fun to look at Tablets (why hello there iPad 2) or the stylish and ethereal offerings from the "slim & light" category.
In fact, this is probably one of the notebooks your head of IT (or procurement) would look at when additional units have to be purchased.
Say hello to HP's Probook 4230s, a mid-range business notebook designed for small- to medium-size businesses that is intended to be durable and easy on the pocket.
On the design front, the Probook boasts a casing of smudge-resistant brushed aluminium and magnesium alloy.
Most of the notebook's lid, with the exception of a plastic strip along the top, is made of brushed aluminium including the screen hinge, which results in a rigid feel that gives you a sense of security when you lug it around.
The metal isn't as thick as what you'd find on a certain fruit company's offerings, but it looks very stylish. This same finish can be found on the interior of the notebook, and the end result is a feeling of quality to the notebook's build.
The keyboard with island-style keys are large enough to type comfortably on and the fact it is spill-resistant is a definite plus.
I did not attempt a serious test with various liquids but an unfortunate encounter with an open bottle of mineral water and a panic attack later, proved that the Probook's hardiness in surviving day-to-day trials of a road warrior.
Speaking of trials, weighing in at 1.6kg, it's a little hefty for its size in the beginning but one soon gets used to carrying it around (this reviewer took it on a ride in a tote bag for an afternoon without breaking both shoulder and notebook).
It also comes bundled with an external optical drive, which is quite useful but may prove unnecessary in the long run as more and more migrate to the cloud.
Keeping in mind that this model is mainly for business, the ProBook features a matte 12.1in LED-backlit WXGA screen, which cuts down on glare and a real boon when on the move and working in a variety of environments.
Due to the matte display, it does suck down the contrast and for those thinking of using it as a multimedia machine, it is not advisable.
For instance, subtle differences in dark colours can't be displayed properly, so it's difficult to tell what's happening in dim scenes. Even though you may not be able to see what's going on, you can still figure out what's happening as the audio quality is quite impressive.
The speakers boast little distortion at full volume and the lack of bass is something to be expected from small notebook setups.
Looking under the hood, the Intel Core i5-2410M processor with a 500GB hard disk is more than enough for mainstream businesses although with only 2GB RAM, some may have to fork out more for an upgrade.
Using Microsoft Office, with multiple browsers open and Windows Media Player running did little to upset the Probook. On a whim, Adobe CS5 suite was installed and the programs managed to run relatively smoothly though it would be a good idea to close other programs first.
The three USB ports is also another boon, along with the inclusion of both a HDMI and VGA out connector - great for plugging in the various peripherals and setting up for PowerPoint presentations.
Those familiar with HP would already be fans of QuickWeb, a quick-boot mini operating system. It takes approximately 10 seconds for the machine to boot up via a dedicated button and provides instant access to tools and services.
Updated for 2011 notebooks, the QuickWeb interface features different slots for widgets, which users can customise, including weather updates, stocks, news tickers, and notes. Users can also surf the Web, send out e-mail messages, check Twitter feeds, and use other web-based services.
Security is a major concern when it comes to business devices and for such concerns the Probook comes packed with built-in encryption functions and biometric fingerprint scanner.
It also sports a new facial recognition function and another nifty feature - it will also check for the owner's BlackBerry smartphone and if the two match up, the notebook unlocks.
In terms of battery life, the Probook holds steady though it is probably not the best in its class. I managed to eke out just under four hours of use running on full power with all whistles blowing. When used conservatively with the right energy management setting, it can keep going for about seven to eight hours.
The best surprise about the Probook, however, is the distinct lack of heat coming out of the bottom, a big plus especially when having to balance it on one's lap in the car (in the passenger seat of course).
While many crow the impending demise of the humble notebook with the rise of Tablet computing, that time has not arrived yet and for at least the next product cycle or two (or three), a notebook is the smarter choice for all-purpose computing needs.
For those who don't have the luxury of an IT department to source out the best options, this HP Probook 4230s could well be a serious contender, especially with its price tag of RM2,799.
Pros: Nice metallic finish; spill-resistant keyboard a boon for workers on the go; little to no heat coming from the bottom of the notebook.
Cons: A little on the heavy side for its dimensions; battery lifespan could have been a little better; keyboard not backlit.
In our earlier version of the review, we incorrectly stated the price of the Hewlett-Packard ProBook 4230s as RM1,799. The correct price is RM2,799.
We apologise for the error and any inconvenience caused.
Operating System: Windows 7 Professional (64-bit)
Processor: Intel Core i5-2410M Processor (2.30GHz)
Memory: 2GB RAM
Display: 12.in WXGA (1,280 x 800-pixels)with LED backlight
Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 3000
Storage: HDD 500GB
Connectivity: WiFi 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth
I/O Ports: Three USB 2.0 ports (1 powered USB), VGA port, HDMI slot, stereo microphone/headphone jack, Ethernet port
Other Features: 720p HD webcam, external optical drive, 6-in-1 card reader, TPM embedded Security Chip 1.2
Dimensions (W x D x H): 2.5 x 28.8 x 21.2cm
Review unit courtesy of HP Malaysia, 1800-88-4889.