Ultraportable HP EliteBook 2540p Notebook Packs in Power

By Cameron Sturdevant  |  Posted 2010-09-09

Ultraportable HP EliteBook 2540p Notebook Packs in Power

The HP EliteBook 2540p is an evolutionary step forward in processor, power and memory in HP's smallest and lightest professional notebook class that also provides quick Web and Outlook access as well as management extras such as disk encryption data wiping. 

Durability features, including key coatings, a magnesium frame and loads of peripheral ports, make Hewlett-Packard's EliteBook 2540p a compelling option for desktop managers outfitting high-value mobile users that only need a 12.1-inch screen to work while away from the office.

The EliteBook 2540p that I've been using in lab tests for several months was released in March with a base cost of $1,099. As tested, my system came out to $1,629. Through train commutes, car rides and airports the EliteBook 2540p withstood bumps, bangs and slams without putting too much strain on my shoulder. The six-cell battery (one of five battery options that include a three- and six-cell standard or long-life option as well as a standard-life nine-cell power house) easily handled my train commute plus moderate daylong business use on a wireless network connection.

I tested an EliteBook 2540p that was configured with a 2.13GHz, quad-core, low-voltage Intel Core i7-L640 processor, a six-cell, 65 Whr lithium ion battery and 4GB of 1333MHz DDR3 (double data rate 3) RAM. The notebook in this configuration includes a read/write DVD optical drive. The optical drive is not present in the standard-voltage systems.

The test system also came equipped with a 250GB, 1.8-inch SATA II (Serial ATA II) hard disk with HP 3D DriveGuard protection; an integrated 2-megapixel camera; a swipe fingerprint reader; an integrated dial-up modem; and 802.11 a/b/g/n and Bluetooth 2.1 wireless support. The system comes with a three-year warranty. The long-life batteries also come with a three-year warranty and are rated for 1,000 charging cycles.

Big family

While the HP EliteBook family includes models that are as large as 17-inch desktop replacement systems, the EliteBook 2540p's 12.1-inch screen makes it useful for mobile workers who must use moderately compute-intensive standard business applications but also need a system that is easy to carry and supports relatively long battery-only operation.

The EliteBook 2540p meets the Department of Defense's MIL-STD 810G standard for reliable operation in environments with dust, humidity, vibration, and temperature and altitude variations. I routinely just closed the lid, threw the unit into a courier bag and took off.

The small screen allows the EliteBook 2540p to be easily used while sitting in a coach airline seat. As with other EliteBook models, there is a pop-out work light in the top screen bezel for keyboard illumination.

The Bottom Line


In comparison, a similarly equipped 12.1-inch Elite Lenovo X201 with an Intel i5-540M processor, a six-cell battery, 4GB of RAM and a 250GB hard disk lacks the optical drive option and doesn't have as great a variety of display options. In a 12.1-inch screen form factor, Dell doesn't offer an Intel Core i7 ultraportable processor. Thus, HP has managed to pile on the computing power and features that will be hard to find elsewhere in as small a package.

Putting it all together

The EliteBook 2540p earned a respectable 5859 PCMark score using the Futuremark PCMark Vantage 64 benchmark. I ran all the suites in Vantage, including communications and productivity along with games and music. The EliteBook 2540p I tested received a middle-of-the-road 3.3 Windows Experience Index on a scale from 1.0 to 7.9. The only low-scoring component was the "desktop performance for Windows Aero." The ones that really matter for business users scored higher: processor at 6.6, memory at 5.9 and hard disk at 4.5.

During test runs of normal office use, the EliteBook 2540p was comfortable to use, but just barely. On the positive side, the low-voltage processor means that everything about the small-framed notebook is cooler than previous-generation notebooks. The screen is relatively bright and presents text and images well. On the negative side, the keyboard experience is "pushy." While there is an adequate key press depth, the key tension is quite firm and made rapid typing a challenge.

Other features include evolved versions of HP QuickLook, QuickWeb and Power Assistant. All of these previously available tools make it easier to read-and now compose a response to-e-mail, go online and manage power usage in the EliteBook 2540p. Power Assistant now uses a newly added circuit to monitor AC power and provides user-definable templates for controlling power flow to various hardware components that are sometimes beyond the reach of the Windows operating system, thus enabling users to prolong battery life.

The EliteBook 2540p, as is true of the entire line, is generously equipped with external I/O ports, including three USB 2.0 ports, VGA, DisplayPort, 1394a, RJ-11, RJ-45 and a special docking connector. There are also slots for one each of an Express Card/34, Smart Card reader and Secure Digital card. 

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