HP EliteBook 2170p review: First look

Reviews 10 May, 2012

Hands on with HP's smallest business laptop to date. The EliteBook 2170p comes with a 11.6in display, up to 256GB of SSD storage and touted battery life of 10 hours.

Verdict: 
It's not a looker, but the tiny EliteBook packs high-end specifications, which could make it a more attractive purchase than a tablet. If the 2170p lives up to the claims of being "rugged", then HP could be onto a winner.

The EliteBook 2170p is HP’s smallest and lightest (1.31kg) business laptop to date and will appeal to users who want a ruggesdised travel companion.

The 11.6in LED backlit screen has a 1366 x 768 resolution and anti glare coating. This small screen, together with the 292 x 192 x 26.5mm dimensions, give the device the appearance of a netbook. But looks can be deceiving and it still packs a host of high-end specifications.

The EliteBook 2170p is lightweight and packs high-performance specifications.

Users can choose from a range of Intel’s third-generation Ivy Bridge processors, and the laptop will support up to 16GB of RAM. A number of storage options are available, with users able to opt for a hard drive up to 750GB in size, an SSD of with a maximum of 256GB or a 500GB Self-Encrypting Drive (SED). The laptop will come with a Trusted Platform Module (TPM) 1.2 chip to beef up security.

We were disappointed to see only two USB 3.0 connections on offer though. That said, the laptop does comes with native DisplayPort and VGA connections as well as a SmartCard Reader and an Ethernet port.

On the back of the device you'll find a docking port, which is compatible with existing docking stations and makes this device suitable for office use. It will also be possible to have mobile broadband built-in for users who want internet connectivity on the move without tethering.

Ports including a SmartCard reader will be welcomed by business users.

Considering the specifications and connectivity on offer, we weren't too impressed with the plastic chassis, which looks cheap and is nowhere near as impressive as the EliteBook Folio and Spectre XT. We also have reservations about the build quality on this model and it remains to be seen whether the chassis is capable of withstanding drops. Sadly, we couldn't test out this theory during our hands-on opportunity.

HP has nailed the design of the keyboard, an impressive feat considering the small form factor.

Despite the jury still being out on the chassis, we found the full-sized keyboard to be well spaced and comfortable to use. Letters are backlit making them easy to see in low-light conditions and the trackpad wasn't compressed either.

Battery life could be a major attraction. Opting for a six-cell battery and SSD combination, users can expect up to 10 hours of usage on a single charge, according to HP. This will drop to eight hours and 15 minutes for those who opt for an HDD version.

HP has yet to announcing pricing for the 2170p, but those opting for a high-end Ivy Bridge chip and SSD drive should expect the price to stack up quickly when configuring. The device will be launching in June and IT Pro will have a full review closer to the time.