The first word that comes to mind when you pick up HP’s 2530p is “solid.” From its heft, to its construction, to its scratch-resistant anodized aluminum display enclosure and palm rest, this notebook seems eminently rugged. HP claims that the 2530p has passed a battery of Mil-Spec tests including 26 drops from different angles at a distance of 30 inches, but we didn’t have the stomach to verify that. We will say the notebook seems up to the rigors of heavy use and regular transport. The price of this sturdiness is added weight—at three pounds, 12.7 ounces, the 2530p weighs about a pound more than the other notebooks in this roundup, although it doesn’t feel cumbersome. We’re more bothered that the battery protrudes from the notebook’s 11.1x8.5x1.5-inch body by almost an inch.
The 2530p’s keyboard feels as solid as the body, with a conventional key layout, full-size keys, and both TrackPoint and touchpad options. Small nubbins just above the palm rest ostensibly prevent the keys from abrading the screen when the notebook is shut. Like the X200s, the 2530p sports a keyboard light. An LED-lit touch-sensitive volume slider above the keypad would be handy if it weren’t so twitchy. Teleconferencers will like that the 2530p features a 2MP webcam (vs. the typical 1.3MP) and a dual-array mic. Most everyone will like the notebook’s full complement of ports and slots—our only complaint is that there are just two USB ports.
Included software lets you use the 2530p's webcam to take snapshots of business cards and transfer the info to Outlook.
Under the hood, the 2530p boasts the same low-voltage 1.86GHz Intel Core 2 Duo Mobile CPU found in Lenovo’s X200s, combined with 3GB of DDR2/800MHz—HP says it will switch to DDR3 when performance benefits warrant the price premium—and Intel’s record-setting SSD. The drive is a less-common 1.8-inch formfactor, with an 80GB capacity. (If your storage needs exceed this limit, HP offers a 160GB 5,200rpm HDD option for $200 less or you can swap out the notebook’s DVD burner for MultiBay storage of varying capacities.)
Tinkerers will appreciate that the 2530p offers more access to its innards than any of the other notebooks here, with easy access to one of the notebook’s DIMMs, two Express card slots—one occupied by a Wi-Fi card, the other wired and ready for EVDO—a Bluetooth radio, and the drive bay.
While the 2530p had a very good showing in the benchmarks, performing neck-and-neck with the X200s, we were surprised it wasn’t faster. We thought the read speed of the SSD, which averages 180MB/s in HD Tach, would give the 2530p a marked advantage in the Photoshop and ProShow tests, but that wasn’t the case. Perhaps the X200s’s 1,066MHz RAM helped level the playing field. Nevertheless, the 2530p proved to be plenty capable of performing a variety of chores and its 6-cell Li-ion battery gave us more than four hours of uninterrupted use in our video run test.
If you’re looking for an ultraportable solution that gets the job done and requires no babying, the HP 2530p is that product.