Tag: HP ProBook 4520 Series

Will more Windows-based laptops appear on the “Cool Wall”?


Windows PCs take New York | The Microsoft Blog

My comments

Last year, when Windows 7 and Apple MacOS X “Snow Leopard” came out, a lot more Windows-based laptops and “all-in-one” computers appeared that excelled on their aesthetics as well as their functionality. This has been reinforced with a few of the computers that have come my way for review on this site.

The Envy laptop (product review) has a laser-etched “filligree” pattern on the back of the computer’s lid and on the palm rest whereas the ProBook 4520s (product review) has a “brushed” florentine-bronze finish on those same places. Dell had used a “piano-black” gloss finish on the lid of two of the computers – the Studio 15 (product review) and the Inspiron 13z (product review) while their Mini 10 netbook (product review) had that “gloss-white” finish that was common with previous generations of Apple iPods and Macintosh products for the back of the computer.

If you, like me, are a regular viewer of “Top Gear” which is a very funny BBC TV car show which is pitched at the petrolheads and car enthusiasts amongst us , you may have seen the “Cool Wall” segment on this show (WikiPedia article). Here, there is a very large board that is divided up in to four segments – “Seriously Uncool”, “Uncool”, “Cool” and “Sub Zero”. Here, the Top Gear Boys (Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May) place photos of various cars on this wall according to how cool they think these cars are. Some of us may have noticed a so-called “Super-Cool Fridge” which was a box shaped like a fridge where pictures of cars deemed to be “Super-Cool” went. The Top Gear Boys tended to vary the definition of “coolness” based on the car’s powertrain, body style or other factors, even on whether certain celebrities and high-profile individuals were driving it or not.

If you thought of a “Cool Wall” existing for laptop computers, it may have looked like this with all of the recent-issue Apple MacBook laptops being considered either “Sub-Zero” or in the “Super-Cool” fridge and all of the Windows-based laptops appearing on the “Uncool” side. This is because of the grey finish with that Apple logo glowing on the back of the computer. What is now happening is that the machines from HP, Dell, Acer, ASUS and Sony are now in a position to fill in most of the “Cool Wall”.

This latest crop of laptops that have been shown in the preview show detailed in the Windows PCs take New York article is now showing that more of these manufacturers are showing up with machines that can look as good as the Apple units. Similarly, there have been people who have used Windows-7-based computers to do creative work including music production and this has led to MacOS X “Snow Leopard” and Windows 7 ending up on an even footing as far as desktop computing is concerned.

Some Apple pundits may think that Apple moving away from the Motorola PowerPC processor platform to the Intel processor platform as well as integration of Microsoft technologies into MacOS X may have denied the Apple Macintosh platform its perceived  exclusivity and superiority over other platforms. This is even though Apple had licensed intellectual property from Microsoft ever since they used the Microsoft BASIC code for the Applesoft BASIC interpreter in the Apple II lineup of computers.

At least there is more activity underway with yielding a functionally and aesthetically level desktop-computing field between the two main players.

Product Review – Hewlett-Packard ProBook 4520s

I am reviewing the Hewlett-Packard ProBook 4520s business-class notebook which may be the first such computer that has come across in this blog. It is one such machine that I am assessing as whether it fits the purpose of a “work-home” laptop for a small-business owner or not.HP ProBook 4520 Series laptop

The unit I am reviewing has a recommended retail price of AUD$1299 but you may be able to get the the same specification for a bit less if you shop around. Cheaper models in this lineup would have a smaller hard disk, run Windows 7 Home Premium rather than Professioamnal, come with a standard battery which has a shorter runtime amongst other differences.

The laptop itself

The unit is finished in a brushed satin-bronze finish on top of lid and keyboard surround, but some variants have a dark-satin black finish. There is a a black screen escutcheon which also hides the Webcam for face-recognition security and Skype communications.

The large keyboard has a feature that is not seen on may laptop computers – a separate numeric keypad. This will please accountants and others who work with figures. It is of a “chiclet” square-key stile but is spaced enough so as to permit accurate touch-typing.

Laptop keyboard with numeric keypad

Laptop keyboard with numeric keypad

There is a multi-touch touchpad which may take some time to get used to for people who haven’t used this kind of control before. It has the primary and secondary buttons as part of the bottom margin in the same way that the HP Envy has for its touchpad.

It is powered with the Intel Core i5 processor “engine” and is supplied with 4Gb RAM with 1Gb set aside for display memory. The graphics “engine” is a highly-robust ATI Mobility Radeon HD 4350 series which would be good enough for most business tasks, even video playback.

The secondary storage options are on a par with a current-issue laptop of this class. It has a 500Gb hard disk with 1.8Gb partition for HP software. It also has a tray-load DVD burner that can label LightScribe optical discs and a memory-card reader for removeable storage.

You also get good things when it comes to connectivity with 3 USB ports and 1 eSATA external-disk port as well as an ExpressCard 34 slot for additional functionality. External displays can be connected using a VGA or HDMI connector.

Business software complement

The operating system for this laptop is Windows 7 Professional which is the version of Windows or7 I would recommend and have recommended in this blog for small business and professional use. It has the features of Windows 7 Home Premium plus other features that make it  business-friendly.

The unit is supplied with a very good business software complement with an inplace ready-to-enable distribution of Microsoft Office Professional, McAfee Total Protection web-managed desktop security software as well as WinZip 12. Hewlett-Packard have also put in their own branded system-protection tools which are developed by Digital Persona, which provide password management, facial-recognition, secure-erase, device-usage control amongst other things.

Observations and Ecperiences

The computer doesn’t run hot too quickly after extended periods of use, thus allowing it to be comfortabie to use. If it gets hot, the heat is passed out the left hand side rather than being felt on the bottom of the machine.

Its battery has a lump which can tilt the laptop up slightly also to allow better cooling and comfortable use. This lump has a rubber ridge to protect the good dining-room table but the design could extend to full width of battery for better protection

The extra-length battery that came with this machine allowed it to complete a feature move on DVD with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth enabled. Infact there was 41% of power available after the movie was completed and these tests were done with Windows Media Player playing “Munich” and the computer running on the HP-defined default power configuration. This then would mean that it could run a long time without you needing to look for a power

The other thing I also admired about this machine is that the metal finish keeps its look even if it is well used unlike a lot of the glossy finishes used on laptops that attract fingermarks and the like. It also feels cool to handle and is the kind of finish that would cope with long-time use.

Limitations and Points Of Improvement

The main limitation with this computer is that it is too heavy for frequent public-transport travel, which may cut it out for frequent air travellers. Some people may find that the long-run battery’s large size and lump may be a limitation for packing and could be improved with a battery that is more cell-dense.

Other than that, there aren’t any other limitations that would impact on its positioning as a business-home home laptop computer.

Conclusion and Placement Notes

I would recommend this as a business-home laptop or desktop replacement for professionals and small-business operators who are likely to take the unit between home and their place of work. It also comes with business-grade security software that is available at prices and licensing quantities that small business can stomach.