4.0 star rating

HP EliteBook 2530p Review

Pros: Elegant business-rugged design; Strong overall performance; Comfortable keyboard; Helpful security software; Long battery life;
Cons: Small touchpad buttons; Only two USB ports; Sluggish mobile broadband;
The Verdict: Built for road warriors, this 12-inch ultraportable offers a durable design and well over 6 hours of battery life.



The HP EliteBook 2530p offers everything a road warrior could want in a notebook: a durable, sleek design, fast performance, extra long battery life, and mobile broadband. Although it may be too pricey and comparatively heavy for some ultraportable shoppers, the performance and protection is worth it for those who can afford it.

Article Continued Below

Road-Ready Design

We loved the EliteBook’s sturdy design when we reviewed the 14.1-inch 6930p, but it’s especially apropos in the 2530p, whose 12.1-inch screen makes it ideal for road warriors. The 2530p, too, has a DuraCase lid, made of brushed anodized aluminum and magnesium alloy. The 3.8-pound 2530p feels a bit heavier than other ultraportables, owing mostly to its rugged build. For example, the Sony VAIO Z Series weighs only 3.3 pounds and features a larger 13.1-inch display. Nevertheless, the 2530p is plenty light for travel and is easy to hold in one hand.

On the inside, the palm rest and thin strip surrounding the touch-sensitive keys are a matching gray, but the keyboard is black. Because the keyboard extends to the edges of the 11.1-inch-wide deck, the keys were comfortable to type on, despite the notebook’s otherwise small size. As with the 6930p, the keyboard and touch buttons are quiet, and the rubbery touchpad has a good amount of resistance, but the touch buttons are narrow; HP also includes a pointing stick with its own corresponding set of mouse buttons. The stick was responsive and has a good rubbery texture.

Above the keyboard are touch-sensitive controls for Wi-Fi, volume, mute, HP Info Center, HP Presentation Options, and one to disable and enable the touchpad. The controls were responsive to taps, although the volume controls required a bit more pressure. In addition to discreet increase and decrease buttons is a convenient strip along which you can slide your finger to adjust the volume.

Display and Sound

The 12.1-inch display has a native resolution of 1280 x 800. In this model, HP Illumi-Lite LED-backlit displays are standard. When we watched a DVD of Anchorman using the integrated optical drive, the screen was exceptionally bright, and the speakers delivered surprisingly loud sound. Thanks to the matte finish, we were able to enjoy a wide variety of viewing angles; we could still comfortably watch the movie when we tilted the lid far forward and when we turned the machine at a 90-degree angle. The 2530p’s screen should be fine for making presentations to one or two people.

Features and Webcam

The 2530p has two USB 2.0 ports, a FireWire port, a VGA port, Ethernet and modem jacks, mic and headphone ports, docking and battery connectors, and a Kensington lock slot. It also has an ExpressCard/54 slot and an SD Card reader. Ideally, we would have liked to see at least one more USB port.

The 2-megapixel webcam captured sharp, well-lit still photos. Our VGA video showed delays, even when we captured video, which doesn’t involve a (potentially slow) Internet connection. When we made a Skype call, our friend noticed some latency around our mouth but, predictably, said the picture became more fluid as she shrunk the window.

Security Features

Aside from its rock-solid lid and chassis, the 2530p has a 3D accelerometer to protect the hard drive in the event of a drop. On the security front, it has TPM 1.2 circuitry, a fingerprint reader (located on the right side of the palm rest), drive encryption, HP Disk Sanitizer, which permanently deletes files, a credential manager, and HP SpareKey, which saves three questions and answers you can use to log in should you forget your password. Users can also configure their notebook to have a Kensington lock slot, and they can install a Smart Card reader in lieu of an ExpressCard slot.

Business Card Reader

Like the 6930p, the 2530p comes equipped with Presto BizCard 5 which, used in conjunction with the webcam, can scan business cards. Just put the business card face up and with the words upside down, into the small slot in the front of the notebook, launch the program, press the icon for starting a capture, and slowly lower the notebook’s lid until you hear a quick succession of beeps, followed by a shutter noise. In addition to the snapshot sound, you know you’ve lowered the lid enough when the LED light on the lid glows solid blue.

As with the 6930p, finding that sweet spot was tough. We accidentally lowered the lid too far a few times, sending the notebook into sleep mode. We finally prevailed, though, and the software was mostly accurate in processing the different lines of information on our business card.


Our configuration of the 2530p was outfitted with a low-voltage 1.86-GHz Intel Core 2 Duo SL9400 LV CPU, and a standard 3GB of RAM (expandable to 8GB). The system scored 3,929 on PCMark Vantage (which measures Vista application performance); that’s higher than Lenovo’s ThinkPad X200 (3,601) and the Sony VAIO Z (3,346), and those notebooks were configured with more-powerful 2.4-GHz processors. The 2530p’s score is substantial, at more than 1,200 points above average for the ultraportable category. The 2530p is also available with a 1.6-GHz Intel Core 2 Duo SL9300 or a 1.2-GHz Intel Core 2 Duo ULV SU9300 processor for those who want maximum endurance.

The 2530p’s 5,400-rpm 120GB hard drive copied 4.97GB of multimedia files in 7 minutes, a slightly below-average rate of 12.1 MBps. (The Sony VAIO Z’s 5,400-rpm drive was 40 seconds slower.) It took 1 minute and 9 seconds to boot, whereas the typical Vista notebook takes between 50 and 60 seconds to start up. What makes this slower-than-average boot time odd is that the 2530p comes with a virtually blank image; users must go to the HP Info Center to install recommended and optional software, which even includes McAfee software, InterVideo WinDVD, and HP Webcam, among others. Other storage options include a 1.8-inch hard drive (120GB SATA), 2.5-inch hard drive (120GB or 160GB), or Intel's blazing 80GB SSD ($659). However, to choose a 2.5-inch drive is to forgo the optical drive, though you do gain an additional USB port.

Our hands-on testing confirmed that the 2530p is a strong performer. With the notebook unplugged, we were able to watch a movie in High Performance mode smoothly while defragging the hard drive. We could also navigate between numerous tabs in Firefox 3 and Internet Explorer 8 with ease. The only time the notebook faltered was when launching McAfee Total Care while watching Anchorman; just opening the program caused the movie to freeze for a moment.

On the graphics side, the 2530p’s Mobile Intel Graphics Media Accelerator 4500MHD notched 2,436 on 3DMark03, which is nearly 1,000 points above average for an ultraportable, coming in just shy of the ThinkPad X200 (2,475). On our frame rate tests, it managed 36.2 fps in our World of Warcraft test with the screen set to a resolution of 1024 x 768. (The average for the category is 41 fps, but this 12.1-inch business machine wasn’t exactly designed to be a gaming machine anyway.)

Wireless Performance and Battery Life

The 2530p’s Wi-Fi scores were strong at 15 feet, with throughput of 19.4 Mbps, but it dropped to a mediocre 14.3 Mbps at 50 feet. Additionally, the system comes with Gobi technology, software-based mobile broadband that allows users to switch carriers (AT&T or Verizon Wireless) without having to worry about buying new hardware. If you don’t need Gobi, opting out of it will save you $125.

We tested the 2530p using AT&T’s HSDPA network, and the results were disappointing: Its download speeds of 438.4 Mbps and upload speeds of 330 Mbps were about half as fast as we expected them to be. Our anecdotal page-load tests were decent. Coupled with Google Chrome, which showed better load times than any major browser, our HSDPA connection took 5 seconds to load NYTimes.com and Hulu.com’s main page each, and 7 to load Laptopmag.com.

The 2530p’s six-cell battery lasted an impressive 6:59 on our battery test, in which we connect to a Wi-Fi network and run a script that simulates Web surfing. Although our review unit came with a six-cell battery, you can also opt for a three-cell or nine-cell battery. The three-cell is standard and weighs 0.4 pounds. The six-cell battery costs $139 and adds 0.3 pounds. The nine-cell battery costs $159 and adds 0.4 pounds to the system.

Software and Warranty

Although the 2530p comes with a refreshingly blank image, users also have the option of installing recommended and optional software through the HP Info Center (press the launch button on the chassis to access it). Programs include McAfee Total Protection, HP Webcam, InterVideo WinDVD, NewSoft Presto BizCard 5, and a trio of Roxio programs. HP includes a three-year warranty with 24/7 toll-free phone support.


The HP EliteBook 2530p is a tough and elegant ultraportable well suited to road warriors. Its boot time is slow, but it’s otherwise zippy and lasts almost 7 hours on a charge. The $1,999 Sony VAIO Z Series costs slightly less and delivers better performance and a bigger screen, but it doesn’t feel as durable and it lasted 2 hours less on our battery test. The Lenovo ThinkPad X200 is also faster and lighter, but it doesn’t offer an integrated optical drive. If you can work with a 12-inch display and want both an integrated DVD drive and long battery life, the EliteBook 2530p is a very good choice.

Tags: HP EliteBook 2530p, Hewlett-Packard Company, business notebooks, Ultraportable Notebooks, notebooks, reviews, business, laptops

Technical Specifications
HP EliteBook 2530p

The central processor unit, or CPU, is the brain of your notebook.
Learn More
1.86-GHz Intel Core 2 Duo LV SL9400
Operating SystemMS Windows Vista Business
The amount of memory our reviewed configuration comes with.
Learn More
The maximum amount of memory this notebook supports.
Learn More
RAM Upgradable to
Amount of data your storage drive can hold.
Learn More
Hard Drive Size
The rotation speed of a mechanical hard drive.
Learn More
Hard Drive Speed
Your notebook’s storage drive (hard drive or solid state drive) holds your operating system, your programs, and your data.
Learn More
Hard Drive Type
SATA Hard Drive
Your notebook display is the primary viewing device for your laptop computer.
Learn More
Display Size
The number of pxiels (wxh) displayed on your screen at once.
Learn More
Native Resolution
An optical drive allows you to play or record to DVDs, CDs, or Blu-ray discs.
Learn More
Optical Drive
The speed of the optical drive.
Learn More
Optical Drive Speed
Graphics chips are responsible for processing all images sent to your computer’s display.
Learn More
Graphics Card
Mobile Intel GMA 4500MHD
The amount of memory available for graphics processing.
Learn More
Video Memory
Wi-Fi connects you to a router or hotspot for wireless Internet access.
Learn More
Bluetooth allows you to connect to wireless devices such as headsets, smart phones, and speakers.
Bluetooth 2.0
Mobile broadband connects you to the Net from anywhere, even places with no hotspot.
Learn More
Mobile Broadband
Ports allow you to connect to external devices such as monitors, printers, MP3 players, and hard drivse.
Learn More
Ports (excluding USB)
Docking Connector; Ethernet; Firewire; Headphone; Microphone; Modem; VGA; security lock slot
USB ports allow you to connect many external devices, from MP3 players to external hard drives.
Learn More
USB Ports
Card readers allow you to plug memory and expansion cards directly into a notebook.
Learn More
Card Slots
ExpressCard; SD/SDHC Card reader
Warranty/SupportThree-year parts-and-labor/24/7 toll-free phone
Size11.1 x 8.4 x 1.0 inches
Weight3.8 pounds
All Product Types Accessories eReaders Laptops Networking Projectors Smartphones Software Storage Tablets
All Subcategories
All Subcategories All-Purpose Budget Business Desktop Replacement Gaming Multimedia Netbook Nettop Rugged Student Tablet PCs Ultraportable
Acer Alienware Apple Archos ASUS AVADirect Averatec BeagleBone BenQ CTL Corp. CyberPowerPC Dell Digital Storm eMachines Emtec Eurocom Everex Fujitsu GammaTech Gateway General Dynamics Getac Gigabyte Google Hercules HP HTC iBuyPower Intel Lenovo Maingear MSI Nokia Nvidia OCZ OLPC OQO Origin Panasonic Razer Sager Samsung Sony Sony PlayStation Sylvania Systemax TabletKiosk Toshiba Verizon Viewsonic Viliv Vizio VooDoo Workhorse PC ZT Systems
Minimum Rating
Any Rating Editor's Choice 4.5 Stars 4.0 Stars 3.5 Stars 3.0 Stars
Screen Size
10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 20 21 4 5 6 7 8 9
1024x576 1024x600 1024x768 1136 x 768 1200X800 1280 x 720 1280x1024 1280x768 1280x800 1366x678 1366x768 1440x1050 1440x900 1600x768 1600x900 1680x1050 1680x945 1792 x 768 1900x1080 1920x1080 1920x1200 2560 x 1440 2560 x 1600 2560 x 1700 2880 x 1620 2880 x 1880 3200 x 1800 3840 x 2160 800x400 800x480
Weight Range
10.1 - 12.0 pounds 12.1 - 14.0 pounds 14.1 - 16.0 pounds 2 lbs 2 pounds and under 2+ lbs 2.1 - 4.0 pounds 4.1 - 6.0 pounds 6.1 - 8.0 pounds 8.1 - 10.0 pounds Over 16 pounds Under 2 pounds
more options