HP's Elitebook line of enterprise-friendly notebooks has long offered business users a strong combination of power, durability and flexibility. The 12.5-inch EliteBook 2570p continues this tradition with solid performance, a MILSPEC-tested chassis, HP's powerful ProtectTools security software, a wide variety of ports and an optical drive you don't normally see in a system this size. Is this $829 notebook the right buy for your business?
Design and Durability
The EliteBook 2570p has the same attractive, solid chassis as other members of HP's enterprise notebook line. The brushed aluminum lid, deck and sides exude a tasteful but understated aesthetic, while the magnesium bottom and aluminum alloy hinges help the notebook stand up to punishment. The 2570p is designed to pass several key MIL-STD-810G durability tests, including those for drops (being dropped 26 times from a 30-inch height), thermal shock (sudden drastic temperature changes), high altitudes, vibrations (enduring a bumpy 1,000-mile truck ride) and dust (pelted with Arizona road dust for 6 hours).
Despite its 12.5-inch screen, the 12 x 8.2 x 1.1 inches EliteBook 2570p isn't particularly thin or light. Our review unit, which came with an optical drive and 6-cell standard battery, weighs a hefty 4.2 pounds, which grew to 4.6 pounds with the 9-cell battery installed. However, HP says that, with a plastic placeholder in the optical drive bay, the Elitebook 2570p should weigh 3.6 pounds. By comparison, the 12.5-inch Lenovo ThinkPad X230 weighs just 3.4 pounds with its 6-cell battery, though it doesn't have an optical drive option. The HP Elitebook 2170p weighs 3.2 pounds.
Keyboard, Mouse and Touchpad
The EliteBook 2570p's island-style, spill-resistant keyboard has standard key placement and provides a reasonable level of tactile feedback. However, the shallow keys and relatively short palm rest made typing a little more difficult for us than usual, causing us to get only a rate of 73 words per minute on the Ten Thumbs Typing Tutor test, as opposed to our normal 80-word per minute score. Unfortunately, the keyboard does not have a backlight option.
The tiny 3 x 1.4-inch touchpad provided accurate navigation around the desktop, but was so small that it was difficult to execute certain multitouch gestures. Whether we were pinching to zoom, performing a rotation move or doing three-finger-flick to browse between photos in the gallery, we often ran off the touchpad without being able to perform the action. We appreciated the dedicated left and right click buttons, which provide solid feedback, but we wish there was more room on the pad.
Like other EliteBooks, the 2570p also has a pointing stick between its G and H keys. While we like pointing sticks in general, because they provide more accurate navigation around the desktop than touchpads, HP's implementation leaves much to be desired. The stick itself is a little too low relative to the keys and its rough, concave surface felt rough on our finger. It also has only left and right click buttons, lacking the middle scroll button found on Lenovo ThinkPads, Dell Latitudes and some larger Elitebooks. However, we still found using the stick more pleasant than moving around on the tiny touchpad.
Display and Audio
The EliteBook 2570's 12.5-inch, 1366 x 768 matte display delivers wide viewing angles and accurate colors. When we watched an HD trailer for "The Avengers," the blue in Captain America's costume and the red in Thor's cape both seemed true to their shades in the movie, but didn't pop like they do on the MacBook Air 13-inch's screen. Colors only began to wash out at angles greater than 60 degrees to the left or right. A light effect around the Avengers logo looked pixelated.
The EliteBook 2570p's dual, front-mounted speakers produce audio that's loud enough to fill a large conference room, but a bit too tinny to double as a stereo. When we played bass heavy tunes like Kool and the Gang's "Summer Madness" or Patrice Rushen's "Forget Me Nots," audio was distortion-free and we could even hear a separation of sound between instruments on the left and right side. However, when we played hard rock tunes like Dio's "Holy Diver" or Megadeath's "Symphony of Destruction," the guitar and drums sounded very tinny.
Ports and Webcam
Built for the enterprise, the Elitebook 2570p has just about any port a business user could want. The right side holds an ExpressCard/34 slot, a memory card reader, a headphone / microphone jack, a full-size DisplayPort out, an eSATA/USB 3.0 port, a proprietary docking port and a Kensington lock slot. The back side houses a VGA port, a USB 3.0 port and a USB 2 port that also charges devices while the system is asleep. On the left side sit an Ethernet port, a Smart Card reader, and an optical drive, which can be swapped out for a second battery or a placeholder that lightens the system's weight.
The 720p webcam provided sharp, detailed images even in low light. When we took a photo of our face in a dark area of our living room, fine details like the hair follicles in our beard were clear, though the image suffered from some visual noise. Color quality improved when we enabled Night Mode in the bundled webcam software. Images taken under direct indoor light were both colorful and detailed.
The EliteBook 2570p stayed pleasantly cool throughout our tests. After streaming video at full screen for 15 minutes, the touchpad measured just 80 degrees, the keyboard a mere 81 degrees and the bottom a chilly 82 degrees Fahrenheit. We consider temperatures below 90 degrees Fahrenheit imperceptible to the user.
With its 2.5-GHz Core i5-3210M CPU, 500GB 7,200 rpm hard drive and Intel HD 4000 graphics, the HP EliteBook 2570p has enough power for high-end productivity tasks and some multimedia. On PCMark7, a synthetic benchmark that measures overall performance, the EliteBook 2570p scored a solid 3,015, just above the 2,898 thin-and-light notebook category average. This HP also beat the ThinkPad X230's mark of 2,838 (2.6-GHz Core i5) and the EliteBook 2170p's score of 2,734 (1.8-GHz Core i5).
The EliteBook 2570p's 500GB, 7,200 rpm hard drive booted Windows 7 in a modest 50 seconds, slightly slower than the 43-second category average. The drive took 3 minutes to complete the LAPTOP File Transfer test, which involves copying 4.97GB of mixed media files. That's a rate of 28.3 MBps, about 50 percent slower than the 44.1 MBps category average, but about on par with the hard-drive driven ThinkPad X230 (30.5 MBps) and EliteBook 2170p (32.8 MBps).
The 2570p's Core i5 CPU allowed it to complete the LAPTOP OpenOffice Spreadsheet Macro test, in which we match 20,000 names against their addresses, in just 4 minutes and 56 seconds. That's a full minute faster than the 5-minute, 57-second category average, but just a bit slower than the 2.6-GHz Core i5 powered Lenovo ThinkPad X230 (4:29).
The Elitebook also had enough computational power to transcode a 5- minute HD video to iPod touch form in just 19 seconds, less than half the speed of the 44-second category average. However, the ThinkPad X230 was 3 seconds faster.
The EliteBook 2570p is powerful enough to play full HD and even 4K offline videos without dropping any frames. On 3DMark11, a synthetic test that measures graphics prowess, the notebook scored just 587, less than the 725 category average and a few points behind the ThinkPad X230 (618).
When we tried playing "World of Warcraft" at autodetect settings, the Elitebook 2570p managed a barely playable frame rate of 29 fps. However, that rate dropped down to an unplayable 15 fps when we turned the settings and special effects up. Those numbers compare unfavorably to the 50 fps / 24.7 fps category averages.
With its default 6-cell battery, the HP EliteBook 2570p lasted 6 hours and 40 minutes on the LAPTOP Battery Test, which involves continuous Web surfing over Wi-Fi. That's over 20 minutes longer than the thin-and-light notebook category average of 6 hours and 19 minutes. However, the ThinkPad X230 lasted a longer 6:56.
With its extended, 9-cell battery on board, the EliteBook 2570p weighs an additional 0.4 pounds, but lasted a strong 10 hours and 38 minutes on our test. However, the ThinkPad X230 with 9-cell battery lasted an even-stronger 12 hours and 17 minutes.
Our review unit carries a price of $829. For that price, you get the Core i5-3210M CPU, 4GB of RAM, a 500GB 7,200 rpm hard drive and Windows 7 Professional (64-bit). However, HP also sells versions of the 2570p with faster Intel Core series processors, an SSD option, Windows 8 instead of Windows 7, and an optional modem port. For $1,499, you get the same 500GB hard drive and 4GB of RAM as our review unit, but with a Core i7-3520M processor. Spending $1,449 gets you a version with a 2.6-GHz Core i5-3320M CPU and a 180GB SSD in lieu of a hard drive.
No matter what configuration you buy, you can attach a $199 docking station that lets you connect to stationary peripherals on your desk and charge your notebook -- all with one snap-in connection.
HP bundles the Windows 7 version of the EliteBook 2570p with a slew of useful utilities, including a very handy webcam application and the company's ProtectTools suite of security utilities. Using ProtectTools, administrators or users can encrypt the hard drive and manage fingerprint authentication profiles and control system login policy. The software also forces users to authenticate with a smartcard, facial recognition or other method. HP Power Assistant allows you to track your electricity usage and change power profiles based on a schedule. For example, you can switch automatically to low power mode for your commute home.
From its highly functional ProtectTools utilities and sturdy design to its great low-light webcam and plethora of ports, the HP EliteBook 2570p is a compelling business portable that both users and IT managers will appreciate. If you're looking for a lighter notebook with longer battery life, consider the Lenovo ThinkPad X230, which starts at $835 and gets two hours' more endurance with its 9-cell battery. However, if you want a business notebook with rock-solid security and durability features, the EliteBook 2570p should be near the top of your list.