If you are looking for a cheap plastic laptop, then I’m going to disappoint you – this review is going to take a closer look at a very sturdy and well built laptop. And any laptop with “sturdy” in the description is usually not going to be a cheap machine.
Thankfully, the HP ProBook 5310m isn’t going to empty your wallet completely, and in the review, I’ll show how you actually get a huge amount of value for your money.
But lets start with the basics – the ProBook 5310m runs on either an Intel Celeron low power chip, or a more powerful Intel Core2Duo. Storage comes from a variety of options – from 160 to 320GB Harddrives, or a 128GB solid state drive. It features an LED backlit 13.3″ anti-glare screen powered by an Intel 4500MHD graphics accelerator.
The ProBook for travelers
As always on Gadling, we like to look at our gadgets from the perspective of a traveler – which is why the ProBook is so interesting. The machine starts at just 3.79lb, which is obviously more than a netbook, but the target audience for this computer is someone looking for a full size computer, without the shortcomings of a netbook.
The ProBook 5310m is the thinnest full performance computer on the market – and it accomplishes this while still being able to bring seven hours of battery life to the table. Other important features travelers will appreciate:
- Optional 3G mobile broadband adapter
- Strong magnesium frame
- Standard HP power connector makes finding extra or replacement chargers easier
- HP Driveguard 3D uses accelerometers to detect drops, safeguarding your data
- HP QuickLook 3 offers instant access to email and web without having to boot the laptop
- High quality 2 megapixel webcam with dual microphones
- Full size “chiclet” keyboard
The ProBook comes with the usual assortment of expansion ports – 3 USB ports, a DisplayPort monitor port, Ethernet and audio. Users in need of an HDMI or VGA connector will need to invest in an adapter. There is no optical drive in the ProBook – which obviously helps with battery life and weight.
HP isn’t kidding when they call this the thinnest full performance computer. This machine really does perform incredibly well. When using basic applications like email and web, you’ll probably not even notice that you are working on a notebook.
And once you throw some heavier applications at it, you’ll still be switching between apps without any noticeable delays. Video is equally impressive – the ProBook had no problems with SD and HD video files, even when played at full screen. Web video from Youtube and Hulu played perfectly in HD full screen without any stuttering.
I hate to use the phrase – but I really do find this to be a “sexy computer”. The combination of the awesome chiclet keyboard and metal finish make for a really good looking (and feeling) computer. The trackpad is probably one of the best I’ve seen in a long time – nice and responsive with good buttons (you’d be amazed how many companies screw that up).
Self-tinkering geeks will also appreciate how easy HP makes it to do your own upgrades – just 2 screws release a large panel on the bottom offering easy access to the memory, MiniPCI and HD bays.
There is little not to like on the ProBook 5310m – it could very well be the perfect travel notebook for people who need more than a netbook can offer. The machine is lightweight, it offers plenty of expansion options, comes with Bluetooth and optional mobile broadband, and a decent suite of security applications.
The ProBook 5310m I tested lists for $899 but a more basic version starts at just $699. Yes – this is of course at least $200 more than the cheap machines at your local electronics superstore, but if you rely on your notebook to get work done on the road, you really do need to invest in something that can survive your trips.
PROS: Fantastic sturdy design, great performance and battery life
CONS: No integrated optical drive, price for high-spec versions
The HP ProBook 5310m is available directly from HP, or from your local HP retailer.