HP EliteBook 2560p Review

A better reason to buy the EliteBook 2560p is the built-in software, which is excellent and may make-or-break a purchase for certain enterprise buyers.
A better reason to buy the EliteBook 2560p is the built-in software, which is excellent and may make-or-break a purchase for certain enterprise buyers.
A better reason to buy the EliteBook 2560p is the built-in software, which is excellent and may make-or-break a purchase for certain enterprise buyers.

Highs

  • Attractive, yet durable
  • Good touchpad
  • Long battery life
  • Excellent bundled software

Lows

  • Thick for an ultraportable
  • No USB 3.0
  • No discrete graphics option
  • Starts expensive, and goes up from there

This is HP’s flagship business ultraportable — which means, in the eyes of enthusiasts, it’s one of the most interesting laptops the company makes. A pricetag of over $1,000, however, may put a damper on some buyer’s excitement. For that can of dough, buyers will be expecting a portable workhorse.

Our review unit is a base model equipped with a Core i5-2410M processor, 4GB of RAM, and Intel HD 3000 graphics. These specifications are far from outstanding for a laptop starting at $999 on Amazon, but the business laptop market is a different world. The competing Lenovo X220 with a Core i5 is at least $899 on Amazon, which isn’t exactly cheap, either.

As always, we’ll do a thorough investigation into the 2560p’s hardware performance, but that isn’t what will make or break this laptop. Instead we’ll need to focus on design, software, and perhaps above all — portability.

Functionally elegant

When it comes to aesthetics, HP’s direction with the ProBook and EliteBook lines has been clear for some time: simple and silver. While Lenovo’s matte black ThinkPad laptops look more outdated every day (the Edge and X1 excluded), the EliteBooks continue to look and feel modern. There is also an industrial feel here, a complexity and heft that feels appropriate for a laptop in this category.

hp-elitebook-2560p-silver-lid-open-angle

Don’t mistake any of this for beauty, however. While this laptop might avoid the overbearing functionality that oozes from a ThinkPad, it is still a mostly functional product that doesn’t make many concessions to aesthetics. It’s thick and blocky rather than smooth and elegant. A large battery bulges from the rear, and the hard plastic bottom feels unpleasantly coarse. If you want luxury, well…HP will be more than happy to sell you an Envy.

Take a trip around the laptop and you’ll find average connectivity. Three USB 2.0 ports, one of which is a combo eSATA port, are included. Display connections include VGA and Display Port, which is rounded out by a combo mic/headphone port, an Ethernet port and a card reader. Though the availability of VGA and eSATA is nice, the lack of USB 3.0 is disappointing.

Ready for marathon typists

The 2560p may be small due to its 12.5-inch display, but the keyboard is obviously designed for use for long periods of time. Keys are not huge, but large enough. Key feel is on the stiff side, but allows for precise typing. You’ll have to put in a lot of effort to generate keyboard flex. Like all EliteBooks, the 2560 uses a magnesium-alloy frame that gives it surprisingly stiffness and durability – we’ve seen a grown man stand on one without putting so much as a dent in it. That’s the kind of durability you pay a premium for in a business-rugged notebook.

Palm space is at a premium, to be sure, but it was just barely adequate for our large hands. Smaller hands will have an even better experience, and long typing sessions should prove comfortable for almost any user. That’s not something that can be said for many ultraportables of this size.

hp-elitebook-2560p-silver-keyboard

Like many business laptops, the 2560p includes a trackpointer as well as a touchpad. Personally, we prefer the feel of Lenovo’s trackpointer, but the one found here works well enough. The downside to this configuration, however, is that two sets of left/right buttons are included: one located just below the spacebar and one located just below the touchpad.

This requires that the touchpad be smaller, and using it is a bit uncomfortable, especially compared to the supersized trackpads now cropping up on Ultrabooks. It’s not as bad as we thought it might be at first glance, however. Even multi-touch gestures work well.

Making the most out of matte

Just like the body and bezel, the display on this laptop is matte, making it easier to use in various conditions without paying much attention to dust or grime. Use in direct sunlight is possible, and brightly lit rooms are no challenge. This is a rare example of a laptop that’s small enough to take anywhere and enjoyable to use anywhere.

hp-elitebook-2560p-silver-front-display

All of the standard matte display flaws apply, however. While almost always legible, the display never appears particularly bright even when set to maximum. Colors have little punch, an issue that’s most apparent when playing movies or games. Black level and gradient test images showed poor performance overall and there was some noticeable banding in the darker half of the gradient test image. If you want to enjoy media, buy another laptop.

Audio quality proved much different. Though it has no special branding, this laptop sounds about as good as the Beats Audio branded dm1z. Like any laptop, you won’t be wanting to use this as your only stereo, but if you’re stuck in a hotel room and want to listen to some tunes, it’ll do.

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