HP ProBook 4310s review

3 Dec 2009

It might look a little 1980s, but it skilfully blurs the line between business and pleasure

Price when reviewed: 
632inc VAT
4

After laying eyes on HP's ProBook 4310s for the first time, you'd be forgiven for thinking you'd travelled back through time to an age when laptops were square and practical, but never particularly pretty. But despite the fact that there's hardly a curve to be found on its chiselled, retro-styled figure, the ProBook 4310s has an eccentric charm all of its own.

It isn't particularly attractive, with a thick-set, glossy black frame that stands 40mm proud of the desk, but the 13.3in display makes it reasonably compact while just tipping over the 2kg mark. It's a shame the battery life isn't better, though; with a little over four hours of light use and 1hr 19mins of heavy use, you'll need to carry it back to the mains on a fairly regular basis.

Get your hands on the ProBook, however, and you might just be pleasantly surprised. The keyboard might look a touch suspect, but it's much better than appearances suggest. The large, square keys have a nice positive action, and the wide spacing between each key helps keep typos to a minimum. Only the trackpad has room for improvement, with the hinged buttons occasionally feeling somewhat awkward under the finger.

The screen gives away the ProBook's more sensible pretensions, as unlike the glossy display of many consumer models, the ProBook has a matte panel. It's a good thing, though, as reflections are kept to a minimum, and despite the slight loss in vibrancy, the HP still made a good fist of our test photos. Reasonably accurate colour reproduction helps keep skintones looking fresh and lifelike, with only the weak contrast disappointing.

The presence of Windows 7 Professional will be welcome for business applications, too. This version adds XP Mode, automatic backup capabilities, and the business-friendly Domain Join features to the standard Home Premium. HP also adds some of its own proprietary software. The ProtectTools suite takes on drive encryption duties, and Disk Sanitizer allows users, or security-conscious IT departments, to wipe a hard disk of sensitive data without any fear of it being undeleted.

For all its seriousness, though, the ProBook has a lighter side. There are both VGA and HDMI ports at the side, and the ATI graphics even allow a little bit of light gaming, despatching our least taxing Crysis test at 39fps. General performance isn't to be sniffed at either, with the 2.1GHz Core 2 Duo processor and 7,200rpm hard drive helping to earn the HP a score of 1.03 in our benchmarks.

It might not do quite enough to win an award, but we can't help liking the little ProBook 4310s. It's as comfortable hooked up to an HDTV as it is churning through an Excel spreadsheet, and as a sensible, compact, all-round laptop, it has plenty to offer.

Details

Price ex VAT £550
Price inc VAT £632
Overall rating 4
Features & Design 5
Value for Money 4
Performance 4

Warranty

Warranty 1yr collect and return

Physical specifications

Dimensions 326 x 229 x 40mm (WDH)
Weight 2.040kg
Travelling weight 2.6kg

Processor and memory

Processor Intel Core 2 Duo T6570
Motherboard chipset Intel PM45
RAM capacity 4.00GB
Memory type DDR3
SODIMM sockets free 0
SODIMM sockets total 2

Screen and video

Screen size 13.3in
Resolution screen horizontal 1,366
Resolution screen vertical 768
Resolution 1366 x 768
Graphics chipset ATI Radeon HD4330
Graphics card RAM 512MB
VGA (D-SUB) outputs 1
HDMI outputs 1
S-Video outputs 0
DVI-I outputs 0
DVI-D outputs 0
DisplayPort outputs 0

Drives

Capacity 320GB
Hard disk usable capacity 298GB
Spindle speed 7,200RPM
Internal disk interface SATA/300
Hard disk Hitachi HTS723232L9A360
Optical disc technology DVD writer
Optical drive Optiarc AD-7561S
Battery capacity 2,500mAh
Replacement battery price inc VAT £0

Networking

Wired adapter speed 1,000Mbits/sec
802.11a support yes
802.11b support yes
802.11g support yes
802.11 draft-n support yes
Integrated 3G adapter no
Bluetooth support no

Other Features

Wireless hardware on/off switch yes
Wireless key-combination switch no
Modem no
ExpressCard34 slots 1
PC Card slots 0
USB ports (downstream) 3
PS/2 mouse port no
9-pin serial ports 0
Parallel ports 0
Optical S/PDIF audio output ports 0
Electrical S/PDIF audio ports 0
3.5mm audio jacks 2
SD card reader yes
Memory Stick reader no
MMC (multimedia card) reader yes
Smart Media reader no
Compact Flash reader no
xD-card reader no
Pointing device type Touchpad
Audio chipset SoundMAX HD Audio
Speaker location Above keyboard
Hardware volume control? no
Integrated microphone? yes
Integrated webcam? yes
Camera megapixel rating 2.0mp
TPM no
Fingerprint reader no
Smartcard reader no
Carry case no

Battery and performance tests

Battery life, light use 4hr 15min
Battery life, heavy use 1hr 19min
Overall application benchmark score 1.03
Office application benchmark score 1.02
2D graphics application benchmark score 1.18
Encoding application benchmark score 0.96
Multitasking application benchmark score 0.95
3D performance (crysis) low settings 39fps
3D performance setting Low

Operating system and software

Operating system Windows 7 Professional 32-bit
OS family Windows 7
Recovery method Recovery partition, burn own recovery discs
Software supplied HP ProtectTools, HPDisk Sanitizer