Review: HP EliteBook 6930p offers perfection with incredible 24 hour battery life

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Review: HP EliteBook 6930p offers perfection with incredible 24 hour battery life

Its longlife 24-hour battery makes it significantly less portable, but this laptop is classy in every sense of the word.

A wag on the forums recently opined that PC Authority can find fault with any product. There's a grain of truth to that: how many products do you know of that are truly perfect? Of course, we're evaluating the products we test for many different types of people, and given differences of need and fashion, no product can be all things to all people.

Even with that in mind, however, the EliteBook 6930p is near-perfect for business laptop users.

Starting from the outside, the HP Elite-Book 6930p, like others in the EliteBook range, has a brushed aluminium finish and slim-line look that oozes class. It's solid and withstands force applied to the lid or chassis admirably. It meets MIL-STD 810F for ruggedness against dust or humidity.

The keyboard is one of the most comfortable laptop keyboards we've ever had the pleasure of typing on, with excellent travel and responsiveness in the well-sized and placed keys. We can't say enough good things about it.

The trackpad is plain and functional, and unlike cheaper models in HP's business range, eschews lever-style buttons for a more standard style that are light and easily clickable. If a trackpad is not your style, you could opt for the included trackpoint and buttons instead - they are equally comfortable and capable.

The comfort doesn't stop there. The 1280 x 800 screen has a matt finish to cope with bright lights effectively, and although the resolution isn't the highest we've seen on a 14.1 laptop, it's crisp and clear enough for business purposes. Colours appear slightly faded and with a blue cast, but it's a minor flaw.

For business users, the additions and inclusions are superb. Aside from the 80GB SSD that helps extend the battery life and reduce the overall weight, there's an optical drive, slots for smartcards and Expresscard peripherals, a docking port, card reader, and security in the form of fingerprint reader, drive encryption and BIOS lock.

For red-eye flights, there's a light at the top of the screen bezel which illuminates the keyboard nicely, and Bluetooth, wireless-n and Gigabit Ethernet will keep you connected at decent speed wherever you find yourself. There's no HSDPA in this model, but that's the only fault we can find. Admittedly, the only video output is VGA, but for a laptop intended for business users, this is ample, and works well for presentations.

The 6930p is no slouch in the performance department either. The combination of Centrino 2, 2.4GHz P8600 and 2GB RAM helped the 6930p achieve a score of 1.34 from our benchmark, which gives it enough grunt to run creative and graphics applications without problems - even with a turn of speed.

Ironically, the thing that makes the HP 6930p near-perfect is the same thing that may drive away others in droves. HP claims 21 hours of battery life, with the specially supplied, oversized extended battery ($261 as an optional extra).

Our light use benchmark is clearly a little less intense than HP's - we clocked it at 23hrs 40mins - but the price you pay for that longevity is the massive weight of the longlife battery.

It pushes the 6930p's weight from 2.4kg up to a considerably more hefty 3.1kg without the power brick, or a stonking 3.54kg with it. The extra battery itself weighs 815gm, so it's nearly a kilogram of additional weight for those precious additional hours.

Whether that trade-off is worth it comes down to your need for portability over battery life. It's a trade-off few like to make, but in this case, we think it's worth it. You'll get well over 12 hours of standard use from this laptop: enough for an entire long-haul flight, and a couple of hours in the airport beforehand.

The extended battery can be charged separately as well as while attached to the laptop, making it easy to do short burst with the standard battery while you leave the hefty extra weight behind.

The dual battery does have some odd quirks, however - our results for the intensive battery life test for the combined battery, while they look good, are not reflective of the relative capacities of the batteries. We repeated our tests, but hadn't received any explanation from HP as to the cause of this at the time we went to print. We'll print an update once we have any additional information.

Everything comes together in the 6930p: the excellent navigation via keyboard and trackpad/trackpoint, the speed and performance of the solid state drive and the incredible battery life.

The price is fantastic - at just $2428 for the base model, you'll have no qualms springing for an additional $269 extended battery. We have a niggling complaint about that extra weight, but it deserves an A-List regardless.

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