This ultraportable business notebook gets the job done
In last year’s ultraportable notebook roundup (August 2009), HP’s EliteBook 2530p put in a strong showing, wowing us with its good looks, sturdy construction, and strong performance. Its successor, the EliteBook 2540p, is strikingly similar in many regards but has the advantage of new and improved components and a lower price.
At 11.1x9.5x1.5 and a lap weight of three pounds, 15 ounces, the 2540p is not the slimmest or lightest business ultraportable out there, but frequent travelers will no doubt appreciate how solid it feels. The notebook—which is built to military standards for toughness, we’re told—sports a magnesium-alloy casing with a scratch-resistant brushed metal exterior, durable hinges, and a secure clasping mechanism. The keyboard is sizable and easy to type on, and you’re given both a touchpad and TrackPoint for navigation. The notebook also offers a handy, popout keyboard light.
The 2540p’s scratch-resistant finish, spill-resistant keyboard, and mil-spec build quality make it perfect for heavy travel.
Sounds like last year’s 2530p, right? That is, until you get to the processor. The 2540p’s Core i7-640LM naturally trumps its prede-cessor’s Core 2 Duo SL9400 with a higher clock speed (2.13GHz vs. 1.86GHz), Turbo Boost (up to 2.93GHz), and HyperThreading, resulting in performance gains ranging from 22 to 52 percent in our benchmarks. Gains are even greater compared to our Toshiba R600 zero-point notebook. (HP also offers the option of a standard-voltage CPU and 7,200rpm drive if you forego the optical drive.)
Our model came with an optical drive, allowing us to watch movies on the 2540p’s 12.1-inch 1280x800 anti-glare screen, or an external display using either the notebook’s VGA or DisplayPort ports. To test battery life, we opted to play a looped video file as opposed to a DVD, figuring that the 2540p’s runtime would exceed the length of a movie disc. Indeed it did. The 2540p’s 6-cell battery lasted four hours on power-saving mode, closely matching the runtimes of last year’s crop of Core 2 Duo ultraportables.
The 2540p comes with a trio of HP apps geared toward business convenience: QuickLook 3 gives you one-button access to Microsoft Office when your notebook is off by storing that information in a separate partition from your OS. You can not only see your email, calendar, and contacts in an instant, but edit that information as well. QuickWeb, as it implies, give you near-instant access to a browser when the notebook is off or hibernating. And Power Assistant gives you a multitude of ways to monitor, tweak, and even graph your power consumption.
Should you want to add or swap out hardware, the 2540p offers easy access on its underside to one of the notebook’s two DIMMs, the hard drive bay, and an ExpressCard slot should you decide to add a broadband modem. Road warriors could scarcely do better than this durable, hard-working, ultraportable rig.
Editor's Note, 9/21/2010: We corrected a typo in the body text related to the notebook's weight; the spec chart contained the correct number.