HP Elitebook 2730P Review
HP Elitebook 2730P Review

I’ve been playing with the HP 2730 for a few weeks now and it is time to tell you how it worked for me. The HP Elitebook 2730 is defined by HP as a business product, which means that it was designed to be moved around a lot (meetings, flights, road trips…) and therefore should be resistant to all that. Being a business computer also suggests that the 2730p would be used for common desktop applications such as Outlook, Word, PowerPoint and Web applications. There is nothing out of the ordinary, except that our little friend is thin & light!

Our particular flavor of the HP 2730 came equipped with:

  • Core Duo 1.86Ghz CPU (low-voltage)
  • 3GB RAM
  • 120GB 5400rpm HDD (Toshiba 1.8″)
  • WiFi-N, Bluetooth

As tested, this laptop costs around $1900. We will tell you how this laptop worked for us, and based on our usage, we hope that you can extrapolate how it might work for you.

Usage Pattern

We are often asked: “what is the best laptop?” and the answer usually start with: “it depends on your needs”. It turns out that blogging is not really different of many people’s typical “business use”, it involves email, web browser, text editing, image editing, IM sessions and of course, some uploads.

Performance

The perceived performance is reasonable. The laptop did not feel sluggish in any of our tasks, and obviously, the web-based applications or work (upload, browsing…) is mainly limited by the network speed and not by the computer. Here are a few key numbers that might help you grasp where the HP 2730 stands in terms of performance. This is done on a clean installation of Vista Business on top of which we installed: Google Chrome, Firefox and PCMark 05.

HP Elitebook 2730P Review

HP Elitebook 2730P Review

HP Elitebook 2730P Review

 

Full screen Youtube test: Full-screen Flash video runs smoothly in “maximum performance mode”, but drops frames in “battery saver mode”.

Ergonomics

Keyboard

HP Elitebook 2730P Review

The HP 2730P has a keyboard with metallic keys (or so they feel) which feels very good. The keys travel distance is short and I found this to allow faster typing. There is no back light option for the keyboard but there is an LED light at the top of the screen that illuminates the keyboard. It works but this solution is inferior to a backlit keyboard. The main reason: the LED light is too bright and is distracting or annoying when reading something near the top of the screen.

Display

HP Elitebook 2730P Review

The display is the weak point of this computer: it is not as crisp and sharp as other computers we have around (Sony Vaio SZ 120P, Macbook Pro, Asus M70, Voodoo Envy 133). I suspect that this is due to an additional layer that offers added protection against repeated stylus use and/or the mat finish. Whatever it is, it makes the image a tiny bit fuzzy. I wish that I could capture it in a photo, but you will have to trust me or see it for yourself. Some people who have played with the computer have noticed it immediately. We noticed something else: the brightness is not consistent across the surface. It is not a show-stopper, but I’m surprised to find this on a $1900 laptop.

Tablet Mode

HP Elitebook 2730P Review

Of course, the highlight of the 2730p is that it’s a Tablet PC. I know huge Tablet PC fans, and needless to say that from a buyer’s standpoint, this is largely a matter of personal preferences (or needs). If you want to, you can use the integrated stylus to take notes or draw. The ink is very responsive and the character recognition is fairly good, but this will not replace writing on a piece paper. You should really try it in a store to get a feel for it. The tablet can also be a nicer way hold your laptop while reading, especially when lounging or standing up. It would be *really nice* if the screen was working with fingers, but the display responds only to the stylus.

Trackpad Buttons

HP Elitebook 2730P Review

The Elitebook 2730p comes with two sets of “mouse” buttons: one for the trackpad and one for the pointing stick . The trackpad ones are nice-looking and well integrated, but they are too stiff. I ended up using the ballpoint ones most of the time. The trackpad buttons might become softer later, but I can not vouch for that. No optical drive During our test, this was not an issue, but you should be aware that installing something from a CD is just not an option unless you have an external optical disc or access to another computer.

Ports

HP Elitebook 2730P Review

HP Elitebook 2730P Review

HP Elitebook 2730P Review

The ports are accessible and having an integrated SD card reader is a good thing. Two USB and one mini Firewire ensure a wide compatibility with existing hard drives and even camcorders. The ports can be found on both sides of the laptop, which is good because it gives more space around the USB ports, but because it doesn’t as neat as having them all on one side. It’s your call, really. For WIFI users who complain about wireless reception problems, the flip-out antenna should be able to help. Temperature The computer does not get too hot, even when it used in “high performance” mode. Macbook Pro owners, is that burnt flash that I smell over there? (I own one).

Construction

The HP 2730 is solidly built. It is designed to shear less and bend less, which should make it more resistant especially for the display hinge. The surface looks nice and seems hard to scratch. Overall, the construction quality is excellent. The one physical problem that I saw is that in Tablet mode, the screen did not close perfectly tight.

Battery Life

Because I was not doing anything that is computationally intensive, I tried using the laptop in the power-saver mode at all times. In that mode, I get about 6 to 6.5 hours of battery life worth of blogging / editing, which is *huge* for such a small machine. This is much more than the 4.5 hours that I get with the Sony Vaio SZ 120P in a smaller form factor. If what you want is hanging out in a coffee shop and catch up on late emails, you may get tired before the HP 2730 does.

What could be improved upon

I hope that HP will beef up the design, improve the display and install a backlit keyboard. This would turn this very good tablet PC into a dream tablet PC.Oh, we need to be able to use fingers too.

Conclusion

This is quite an efficient and portable Tablet PC: it is light, has decent performance for desktop applications and most importantly, the battery life is excellent. This alone makes me want to use it at places like conferences where access to electricity might be limited. The construction quality is also top notch. Except for the display, and for the fact that it might look too “office-like” for some (it’s a business computer after all!), it’s hard to find anything wrong with this Tablet PC. Take a look at the photo gallery and
drop a comment to let us know what YOU think.

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