The last ProBook we saw - in the middle of last year - was supposed to mark HP’s reinvention of its business laptop brand. And, true to its moniker, the 4510s was sleek, glossy and one of the best-looking corporate machines around.
We were surprised, then, when the 6540b turned up. Its grey, plastic shell makes it look like a three-year old machine and, with its 43mm width and 2.72kg weight, it’s arguably not the best option for those who like to use their laptops on the daily commute.
Thankfully, the design makes up in build quality what it lacks in style. There’s nary a hint of flex in the rock-solid wrist-rest, the base barely creaks when it’s tugged and tweaked, and the thick, sturdy lid offers similar quality. Indeed, we had to put plenty of pressure on the rear of the screen before we saw any desktop distortion. It may be heavy, but it’s a relief to know that the ProBook would stand up to the rigours of the road should it need to.
HP has also concentrated on getting the ergonomics right. The keyboard is constructed from wide, scrabble tile-like keys with small bezels, and the keyboard’s firm base and positive, responsive action make for extremely comfortable typing. The layout is good, too, with a full-size numberpad included and no keys reduced in size or positioned oddly.
The trackpad is good, too, and comes with a scrolling bar on the right-hand side, although the buttons felt a little too light and indistinct for our liking.
Sitting above the impressive keyboard is an excellent screen. The 1,600x900 pixels native resolution is a cut above the 1,366x768 we normally see on 15.6in panels, and the LED-backlit display provides excellent quality. Colours are consistently bright and accurate, and detail is sharp. The matte finish is a thoughtful touch, too, and means that bright office lights don’t prove too intrusive.
Processor: Intel Core i5-430M 2.27GHz (512MB L2 cache, 3MB L3 cache, Turbo Boost, Hyper-Threading, 500MHz GPU)
Memory: 4GB 1,066MHz DDR3
Graphics: Intel GMA X4500
Optical drive: DVD writer
Hard disk: 320GB Western Digital Scorpio Black
Display: 15.6in 1,600 x 900 LED-backlit
Features: Kensington lock, webcam, fingerprint reader, TPM 2.1
Connectivity: 802.11bgn, 10/100/1000 Ethernet
Ports: 4 x USB, D-SUB output, DisplayPort output. 4-in-1 card reader, FireWire, RS-232 serial, ExpressCard/54
Dimensions: 371 x 248 x 43mm (WxDxH)
Weight: 2.72kg (3.17kg with charger)
Warranty: 1yr C&R?OS: Windows 7 Professional 32-bit
Software: HP ProtectTools, HP Recovery Manager, HP QuickLaunch, HP Power Assistant, HP Connection Manager, HP 3D DriveGuard, Skype, HP ProtectTools, HP Disk Sanitiser, HP File Sanitiser