HP's Elitebook range is designed for the long haul - with battery life from 6-24hrs, it's hard not to see that as the main draw. But there are aspects that shouldn't be overlooked in the quest for long battery life. Performance is, of course, always a big priority for PC Authority, and we're not adverse to a little style, as well.
The slim aluminium chassis and slimline lid makes the 2530p relatively slender overall, and it's both eye-catching and well-finished. The sleek look is both businesslike and chic enough to earn some rubber-necking from fellow travellers.
The keyboard is excellent, even when compared to HP's usual high standards. Crisp, with good response and well-spaced keys, you can imagine using it for the full six hours you can eke out of it.
Unlike some of the other HP models we've seen recently, the trackpad buttons are rubber, providing a certain amount of tactile response and grippiness which makes them very pleasant to use. A pair of rubber spacers are placed just above the trackpad, which may bump wrists and add a point of discomfort in an otherwise entirely comfortable experience. As with most good business laptops, the HP offers a combination of trackpad, or trackpoint and buttons, and there's a clever little pop-out light in the top bezel for late-night work.
It's moderately portable at 2.13kg, even with a hefty battery sticking out the back and a DVD writer squeezed in.
That's not to say there aren't downsides. The matte, 4:3 aspect ratio, 1280 x 800 screen looks a little outdated, and aside from the matte looks, it's not the best screen we've seen from HP. It's paler and colder than we'd like, and the colours drop off at high saturation and blow out at the edges of the screen. Fonts are not entirely crisp at small font sizes.
There's a fair amount of flex in the lid, which made us slightly concerned about marking and damage during transport, but otherwise the build is solid, thanks to the well-designed aluminium chassis.
Having said all that, once we got our hands on the Elitebook 2530p, it was hard to part with it.
While it slightly mars the otherwise sleek silhouette, the included 9-cell battery lasted for 6hrs 27mins on light use, making a day working out of the office remarkably pain-free. Battery life during our heavy use benchmarks was a considerably less brilliant 2hrs 22mins, but we'd expect most users will get 4-5 hours of productive time from it on a daily basis.
Apart from the battery, what makes the 2530p appealing for business users is the protective components. From the HP 3D driveguard and security manager, to the Centrino 2 VPro, it adds touches that show the care with which HP treats your precious data.
Add in Gigabit Ethernet and Bluetooth, and it's kitted out as well as you could hope for. Even performance is good, if not outstanding. In our model, running XP SP2, the 1.86GHz Core 2 Duo L9400, combined with 2GB RAM, managed 0.96 in our performance benchmarks.
The inclusion of Bluetooth and Gigabit Ethernet adds to the appeal for business users, and for those on the go the laptop includes a colour-coded touch interface above the keyboard that lets you adjust audio volume or switch on or off wireless and trackpad functions. The presentation button instantly switches you to a second screen or projector.
In all, it's a solid business laptop with excellent battery life, and well worth a recommendation.