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Review: HP's ProBook 4520s

HP's ProBook 4520s notebook packs lots of computing power for a reasonable price.

The HP ProBook 4520s is an expansive, spacious notebook that offers ample processing power, solid security features and a comfortable user experience for regular office and travel use. The ProBook 4520s is also flexible enough to work as a primary workstation and a mobile unit for all but the most demanding users.

End-User Advantages

The 4520s is fairly lightweight, at 5.5 pounds, and has a very sleek and solid feel. The 15.6-inch diagonal, high-definition widescreen display defines the shape of the computer, creating a workspace that incorporates a full-size keyboard and numeric keypad offering ample space while typing.

The large, integrated ClickPad supports two-finger scroll, zoom, pinch and pivot rotate. A relatively narrow bezel gives the impression that no space is wasted outside of the display area, while the Intel GMA HD graphics adapter delivers a bright, clear display. A full charge on the six-cell battery should yield roughly five hours of use.

The computer performs well with an Intel i5 M30 processor and 4 gigabytes of DDR3 RAM. It ships with 280GB of internal storage on a 7200 RPM SATA drive, as well as an integrated DVD-RW drive. Network connectivity is covered with a RealTek Gigabit Ethernet interface, Atheros 802.11b/g/n wireless adapter and Bluetooth 3.0 + HS combo adapter.

The ProBook's local device connectivity is supported with three USB 2.0 ports, one combined USB 2.0/eSATA port, an ExpressCard/34 slot and a combined SD/MMC card port. It also has VGA and HDMI video outputs, an RJ-11 modem interface and stereo inputs and outputs.

Why It Works for IT

The ProBook 4520s offers a spill-resistant keyboard that's protected underneath by Mylar film and a drainage system that releases liquids through a hole in the bottom. The system also includes HP Recovery Manager, which makes quick work of recovering the unit's factory-installed image.

The IT team will also enjoy the security features packed into the 4520s. HP ProtectTools security manager software includes facial-recognition technology, drive encryption and disk sanitization utilities. The model includes a Kensington lock slot and supports Computrace LoJack Pro for HP ProtectTools, which can help locate the notebook if it's lost or stolen.

Interestingly, the bottom of the 4520s contains no access panels for service. Support workers gain access to RAM, HDD and other internal components by removing the integrated keyboard. Although this differs from most notebooks, the system is well configured internally, and service work should be simple and straightforward.

Disadvantages

The ClickPad on the 4520s offers a single, smooth surface for the trackpad as well as left and right mouse buttons, which are situated under the main part of the trackpad. This leaves the user with no tactile orientation of where their fingers are on the pad. Because the pad has both multitouch capabilities and areas for horizontal and vertical scrolling, use of the ClickPad can be frustrating initially. Users will likely need to do some fine-tuning with the configuration software to find a balance of sensitivity and features that works best for them. The ClickPad can also be locked through a touch gesture that helps keep the pad from interfering when typing — but be prepared for a few help-desk calls until users learn to unlock it.

The addition of a numeric keypad on the right side of the keyboard, while an interesting feature, puts the main keyboard off-center from the display. Because the ClickPad is centered on the keyboard, the user may have the sensation that they are slightly off-center from the display as they type or navigate.

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Jun 13 2011 Spice IT

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