Priced at £584 + VAT, HP’s ProBook 4530s laptop is aimed squarely at the SME market.
The device weighs in at 2.5kg, which is pretty impressive considering it measures 374 x 256 x 28.7mm. It would make a good desktop replacement system, but mobile road warriors would require something less bulky.
The 4530s has a full-size keyboard with numeric extensions and a 15.6in screen. One unusual aspect of the system is that it comes with two separate onboard graphics systems. The first is Intel’s Intel HD Graphics 3000 system integrated into the processor, which shares 1.76GB of system memory. The second is ATi’s Radeon HD4690M, which uses its own dedicated video memory and not the computer’s system memory.
The dual graphics cards enable users to tag applications whichever one best suits it. Standard apps like Microsoft Word could use Intel's HD graphics system, while CAD applications requiring better performance could be set up to use the ATi graphics card.
The system uses a Mobile Intel HM65 Express Chipset, and the processor is a second generation Intel Core i5-2410M running at 2.3GHz. The processor quad core rating is achieved by having two cores with dual hyperthreading.
The front side bus runs at 1333 MHz, and the 4530s has two memory slots for DDR3 dual-channel 2GB or 4GB memory SoDIMMs, up to a maximum of 8GB (2 x 4GB).
Our 4530s was running the 64-bit version of Windows 7 Professional, although Windows 7 Home Premium, Home Basic, and Vista 7 Home Basic are also supported. SuSe Linux Enterprise Desktop 11 is also certified for use by HP on the 4530s, as well as FreeDOS (a DOS compatible, free, open-source free operating system).
For optical media, the 4530s uses an on-board SATA HP DVD A DS8A5LH drive, which supports CD, DVD and Blu-Ray media.
Storage is provided by a 2.5in form factor Toshiba 5,400 rpm MK6465GSX 640GB hard drive partitioned into four sections: operating system, recovery, system and tools.
There’s also a protected partition for Microsoft Office 2010 Click-to-Run, a method for installing Office 2010.
The UK version of the 4530s has four USB ports, two USB 2.0 towards the front on the right hand side, and two more USB 2.0 ports on the left hand side.
However, in the US version of the 4530s, the USB slot further to the rear on the left is a USB 3.0 port, according to the spec on the HP web site, which would give the 4530s a significant advantage in storing data due to its much faster data transfer rate.
There was no eSATA port on our system.
Under the USB ports on the left is an Express Card slot, and also on the left hand side of the 4530s is an HDMI port for connecting to external monitors and HDMI-enabled TVs, and a VGA adaptor, also for connecting external monitors [see picture].
At the front at the near left hand side is a 6-in-1 memory card slot, next to which are audio jacks for headphones and microphones.
Besides the on/off button and two white light LEDs on top of the main body, the only other feature on top of the system body is the fingerprint sensor. The right LED displays Wi-Fi status, while the left LED fires up a browser for web access.
The 4530s comes with standard wired and wireless connections, but does not yet have a mobile broadband connection on board – that was scheduled to be available by the end of June, but appears to have been delayed.
The wired LAN adaptor is a Realtek PCIe GBE Family Controller, while wireless connectivity was provided by an Atheros AR9285 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi adaptor.
An Atheros AR3011 Bluetooth v3.0 with high-speed adaptor completes the network connections, although the right hand side of the system next to the USB 2.0 ports has a blanked off port which would normally have been used for a standard modem connection.
The 4530s looks the business in its formed aluminium skins, spoilt, as is the case with most systems, by the vendor stickers (ATi Radeon, Intel Core I5 and Windows 7) plastered below the keyboard just over the fingerprint sensor [see picture].
The keyboard is full size with an extra numeric keypad, like those found on desktop keyboards.
Spill resistance has also been built into the 4530s keyboard, so sugary drinks and water shouldn't damage the system if accidently spilt.
The touchpad has gesture support and a tiny LED located in the top left hand corner indicating whether it is active or not.
Gesture support allows users, for example, to zoom in and out when working with Office documents, for example, rather than having to change the zoom level through the user interface.
However, zooming into and out of such documents was not as smooth as with some Android tablets (the Asus Eee Pad Transformer, for example) we recently reviewed.
The display is a standard LED-backlit model, giving good viewing from all but the most acute angles. The web camera allows users to record 720p high definition (HD) video, and audio can be heard from a perforated grill just above the keyboard running nearly the entire width of the laptop.
To supplement the HD video capability, the 4530s also has dual-array microphones.
Applications on the 4530s include HP Professional Innovations, hardware drivers, recommended software applications and optional software applications.
HP's professional innovations software includes its Protect Tools security suite, its networks application HP Connection Manager, and others such as HP DayStarter and HP QuickWeb, which allow access to Outlook and the web repectively, before entering the Windows 7 primary operating system.
Among the recommended applications included are a full copy of ArcSoft's TotalMedia Suite, which can drive the HD webcam, and compression utility WinZip 14.5.
We tried HP's Protect Tools security suite, setting up fingerprint security to secure the logon process. We found the fingerprint sensor worked well.
We checked performance using Atto Technologies disk performance measurement application and PassMark’s PerformanceTest v7.0.
The onboard Toshiba hard disk gave sequential read and write speeds of 84MB/s each, with the Atto benchmark.
Performance of the second generation Intel Core i-series CPU in the 4530s, a 2.3GHz Core i5-2410M processor, was good, surpassing the first generation Intel 3.33GHz Core i5-660 CPU performance of our Labs test Dell OptiPlex 980 [see picture].
However, the 4530s processor was less powerful than the second generation Intel 3.1GHz Core i5-2400 processor in the Dell OptiPlex 790 we recently reviewed.
The six-cell 47 Watt-hour lithium ion battery on the 4530s gave a life of three hours and 20 minutes when we were using the 4530s's Performance mode power option, a figure that increased by an hour to four hours and 20 minutes, when we switched to the Balanced mode power saving option [see picture].
HP says the 4530s can be recharged to 90 per cent of the battery’s capacity in 90 minutes. When we tried recharging for 90 minutes with the 4530s operating system not running, but with the AC Adaptor connected, we recorded a charge level of 95 per cent after 90 minutes.
Recovering the system to factory settings means getting into the BIOS options by pressing the Esc key on system boot-up, and then pressing F11. Recovering to factory settings took one hours and 20 minutes, and that was even without patching the system with Windows Update – to do this took an extra couple of hours.
A stylish business notebook with decent performance, which is not too heavy given its size. It would make a good desktop replacement system since it is too bulky for day-to-day carrying around. But it is missing USB 3.0 or eSATA ports for fast data transfer to removable storage.