Lightweight, durable design; Above-average battery life; Speedy boot time; Fingerprint reader
Relatively dim display; Cramped touchpad; No extended-battery options
The HP Elitebook 2170p is a light and durable business notebook with above-average battery life, but its small touchpad makes it tough to execute Windows 8 gestures.
Like other recent EliteBooks, this notebook has a silver lid adorned simply with an HP logo in the center, a subdued look that executives will appreciate. Flipping the lid, a movement that felt somewhat stiff, reveals a matte, 11.6-inch display bordered by a bezel made of matte-black plastic. Along the top is a webcam.
The magnesium deck, which is the same shade of silver as the lid, has a 3.7 x 1.5-inch touchpad, with a pair of dedicated buttons both directly above and below it. The EliteBook's keyboard is recessed and has about a half inch of space on either side. A fingerprint reader sits just below the arrow keys.
At 11.5 x 7.6 x 1.0-inches and 3.2 pounds, the EliteBook 2170p is shorter, slimmer and lighter than both the 12 x 8.1 x 1.0-inch/3.4-pound Lenovo ThinkPad X230 and the 12.5 x 8.5 x 0.6 - 0.8-inch/3.4-pound Dell XPS 12.
Considering that this machine runs Windows 8, an OS optimized for touch-based devices, the EliteBook's biggest shortcoming is arguably its lack of a touch screen. (And no, you can't add a touch screen as an option.)
At 142 lux, the Elitebook's display is nearly half as bright as the 231 lux category average. It's also much dimmer than the X230's screen (240 lux) as well as the XPS 12, which registered an outstanding 434 lux.
Keyboard and Touchpad
The keys are backlit with a single brightness level that's more than sufficient for working in dim environments. HP claims that the keys are spill resistant and that any liquids that seep through the deck will drain through the bottom of the chassis.
The center of the keyboard stores a concave, textured pointing stick, whose slick surface caused our finger to slip off and onto the surrounding buttons. Lenovo's TrackPoint remains the best in the business for this kind of cursor control.
The EliteBook 2170p stayed nice and cool throughout our testing. After streaming a full-screen Hulu video for 15 minutes, the touchpad measured 86 degrees Fahrenheit, while the middle of the underside registered 87 degrees. The G&H keys were the warmest spot of the three we tested, reaching 88 degrees. We consider anything above 95 degrees to be uncomfortable.
Business and Security Features
The EliteBook 2170p comes with several security measures. HP ProtectTools lets you use facial recognition via webcam or the fingerprint reader to securely log into and lock the 2170p. To configure ProtectTools, just swipe a finger on the reader, which will open the software.. You'll then be asked to enroll your fingerprint, and create a system password using three security questions.
Other security features of the 2170p include a TPM-Embedded Security Chip 1.2, which makes passwords and digital certificates more secure against external software attacks. Users can also sign up for LoJack for Laptops, which costs $29.99 per year and allows you to remotely lock your machine and delete files. In the event your Elitebook gets stolen, the service will track the location of the laptop and work with local law enforcement agencies to recover your computer. However, you must sign up for this service.
HP 3D DriveGuard, which is hidden within Control Panel, helps protect your data by using a digital accelerometer to detect sudden movements of the entire system.
The EliteBook's underside has a docking connector, which lets business users connect peripherals, such as extra displays and storage devices. HP's docking stations range in price from $99 to $309. The most expensive (HP 2012 230W Advanced Docking Station) features four USB 3.0 ports, DisplayPort, VGA, Ethernet, DVI-D, audio and legacy ports, including Serial, Parallel and a mouse connector.
In our LAPTOP File Transfer Test, in which we task the machine with copying a 4.97GB folder stuffed with music, videos and photos, the EliteBook 2170p took 2 minutes and 35 seconds. That's good for a 32.8 MBps average transfer rate, which edges outs the X230's score of 30MBps but is less han half the 76 MBps category average. (The average is skewed because many ultraportables we test now come with faster SSDs.) The XPS 12 wrote the same folder at a whopping rate of 150 MBps.
In our OpenOffice Spreadsheet Test, in which we task the machine with matching 20,000 names with their corresponding addresses, the EliteBook 2170p finished in 5 minutes and 37 seconds. That's on a par with the XPS 12 (5:34), and 1:35 faster than the average. At 4:29, the X230 was more than a minute faster than the 2170p.
If you happen to be a "World of Warcraft" addict as well as a business pro, be forewarned that the 2170p can't quite handle Blizzard's uber popular MMO. The 2170p averaged 25 frames per second with the game's visuals set to "Good" and the resolution at 1366 x 768. That's 19 frames below the 44 fps category average.
Under the same conditions, the X230 registered 41 frames per second. However, we reviewed that machine before the Mists of Pandaria expansion pack was released, which made the game much more graphically demanding. The XPS 12, which was released after the Pandaria update, got a playable score of 38 fps.
Unfortunately, HP doesn't offer any larger-capacity batteries for this business ultraportable. By comparison, Lenovo offers a 9-cell battery with its X230, which lasted 12:17, as well as a sheet battery, which boosted the machine's endurance to 20:46.
There's not too much in the way of extra software on the EliteBook 2170p. Most notable is the suite of Cyberlink utilities, which includes CyberLink YouCam, PhotoDirector for photo editing and Media Suite for entertainment consumption. Other apps include Evernote and PDF Complete, a document reader.
HP offers four preconfigured versions of the EliteBook 2170p. Our $1,099 review unit ships with a 1.8-GHz Intel Core i5-3427U CPU, 4GB of RAM, a 500GB-7,200 rpm hard drive, Windows 8 Professional 64-bit and an integrated Intel HD Graphics 4000 GPU. The cheapest configuration goes for $999 and swaps the Core i5 with a 1.8-GHz Intel Core i3-3217U processor. The high-end model retails for $1,399 and upgrades the CPU to a 1.8-GHz Intel Core i5-3427U, while doubling the RAM to 8GB and trading in the mechanical hard drive for a speedy 180GB SSD.
You can also custom configure the 2170p, but doing so makes the machine considerably more expensive than a preconfigured model.
HP backs the Elitebook 2170p with a limited, 90-day warranty as well as a 1-year warranty on the primary battery. See how HP fared in our Best and Worst Brands Report and Tech Support Showdown.
|CPU||1.8GHz Intel Core i5-3427U|
|Operating System||Windows 8 Professional|
|RAM Upgradable to||16GB|
|Hard Drive Size||500GB|
|Hard Drive Speed||n/a|
|Hard Drive Type||SATA Hard Drive|
|Optical Drive Speed||n/a|
|Graphics Card||Intel HD Graphics 4000|
|Mobile Broadband||Gobi Wireless|
|Touchpad Size||3.7 x 1.5-inches|
|Ports (excluding USB)||Kensington Lock|
|Ports (excluding USB)||Ethernet|
|Ports (excluding USB)||DisplayPort|
|Ports (excluding USB)||DC-in|
|Ports (excluding USB)||VGA|
|Ports (excluding USB)||Combo Headphone/Mic Jack|
|Ports (excluding USB)||USB 3.0|
|Ports (excluding USB)||security lock slot|
|Card Slots||5-1 card reader|
|Warranty/Support||Limited 90-day warranty/1-year primary battery warranty|
|Size||11.5 x 7.6 x 1.0-inches|