Ultraportable HP EliteBook 2170p laptop aimed at business road warriors
It has to be smaller and portable, but still powerful, as well as impressive in the security department.
HP’s EliteBook line caters to this crowd, and their latest offering in this line — the HP EliteBook 2170p — aims to please in all these areas.
I recently spent some time with the machine, and am back with a full report on how it measures up.
My first glance at the machine left with a pretty clear thought — This is small. Depending on what you prefer from a laptop, that may be a good thing or a bad thing.
If you are the road warrior type, you’ll probably want something of this size (it features an 11.6-inch screen) for ease of travel. But others may find it too small, and prefer to opt for a machine in the 13-inch range so they can see things a little bigger. It’s really all in the eye of the beholder, and there are other options out there is you want to step it up an inch or two.
The weight on the unit is negligible, just under 3 pounds (2.89 exactly), and that was in part achieved by the use of magnesium casing, which creates less weight.
Despite the lightweight nature of this machine, it’s still very durable, as all EliteBook machines are put through rigorous testing (drop tests, lid pressure tests, and tests for heat, cold, humidity, altitude, resistance, shock testing and more).
The machine features a spill-resistant keyboard that has a bottom case drain, so if you spill some liquid onto the keyboard, it goes through the drain hole and limits damage.
The machine’s full specs are 11.5 inches wide, 7.56 inches deep and 1.04 inches thick. While it is very light, the 2170p is not officially an ultrabook according to Intel’s definition — It’s quick a bit thicker than the ultrathin laptops that have come out lately.
The EliteBook 2170p comes with a couple of battery options, a 4-cell battery or a 6-cell battery. My machine had the 6-cell battery, which was so-so in terms of average lifespan per charge. I could use the machine about five hours before running out of juice, not terrible but less than some other machines I have seen. The good thing is that the battery is replaceable, so if you want to carry a spare on you it can be popped right in. Battery life does increase if you choose a solid-state hard drive, but that will cost you a significant premium.
While this is a smaller machine, you still get a full-size keyboard, but you lose the bonus number pad on the right that larger machines often offer.
The touchpad is a little smaller than you’ll see on larger machines, as logic would dictate, but it’s still quite responsive and easy to use. I had occasional instances of accidental touchpad brushing moving the cursor, but it wasn’t an epidemic.
One minor issue is there are too many buttons placed around the touchpad — it just looks cramped.
There’s a point stick in the middle of the keyboard that can be used to maneuver around the screen, but that’s a feature I’ve never really liked using.
You get an option to get a backlit keyboard, something that is essential if you are going to be working late nights or in dark areas. It would also help if you were on an airplane working, as business travelers often are.
The EliteBook 2170p’s 11.6-inch display features a 1366x768 resolution high-definition panel, which looks decent but unspectacular in terms of sharpness. There is no upgrade offered, and I would have liked to see something closer to a full-HD screen available.
PROCESSOR, RAM, STORAGE
Getting to the guts of things, what powers this machine is what’s really important.
For processor, you get the latest Intel processors — in versions from i3 to i5 to i7. If you go with an i5 or i7 processor, you will have VPro support offered . My version that I tested had an i5 processor, which with rare exception was able to handle the heavy multitasking I threw at it.
There are two memory slots, so a variety of RAM options are there: My machine had only 4 GB of RAM, but you can go all the way up to 16 GB if you are a power user who is really going to put this machine to the test.
There are many hard drive options available. If you’re willing to pay a little extra, you can opt for a solid-state drive (which features no moving parts), in sizes of 128, 180 or 256 GB. These SSD options also feature a quicker resume and boot capability.
If you opt for a traditional hard drive, you can choose from either 320GB or 500 GB; and there is also a self-encrypting 500 GB hard drive offered to further improve security.
You have some options here, but HP expects the majority of people to stick with the Windows 7 OS for now. The machine also features the option to choose Windows 8 and Windows 8 Pro, should you desire.
Both operating systems have their high points, and Windows 8 can be a bit quirky at first, so it’s really up to you and what system you’re comfortable using.
For a smaller machine, the sound on the EliteBook 2170p is decent, just don’t expect much quality on the bass end.
You can opt to include a 720p webcam — which is a good idea to help you while on the road to keep in touch face-to-face with work and your family.
Due to the size of this product, there is no internal optical disc drive (though HP does offer a 12.5-inch machine that does have one)
There is No HDMI port, a feature HP aims more toward its consumer products and not the business lines. It does, however, have the following ports: 1 DisplayPort, 1 VGA port, 1 USB 3.0 port, 1 USB 3.0 charging port, 1 RJ-45 (Ethernet) port, a combo stereo headphone/microphone port, and a docking connector. There is also a 5-in-1 expansion slot for SD/MMC input.
You get a lot of security features with the EliteBook lineup, as that’s a key concern of business users.
Among them is a fingerprint reader to block access by unauthorized users.
You also get HP’s ProtectTools software suite, which lets you use the machine’s webcam for face recognition. You can also pair your phone with the notebook as additional security, so after it sees your face it checks via Bluetooth that your phone is nearby before letting you in. In the event you ever lose your phone, you can set up security questions as a back-door way into the system (this is called SpareKey)
VPro support from Intel (offered on the i5 and i7 processors here) allows for advance management of the machine, including remote monitoring and maintenance from IT folks back at the office while you are on the road.
HP Disk Sanitizer comes into play if you’re passing on a computer to someone else . It writes bogus data across a hard drive so it’s “thoroughly scrubbed” and data can’t be retrieved even if someone is digging around and trying to recover that wiped info.
You can also subscribe to Computrace and that will always find your computer if it gets lost. Even if the machine has been reimaged with new hard drive, it can still phone home and be found via Computrace.
There are lots of HP programs offered here which you may or may not use: HP Power Assistant; HP Recovery Manager; HP Support Assistant, for example.
Microsoft Office Starter is offered on Windows 7 models; but on Windows 8 machines, you get a 60-day trial, then you have ability to purchase the full version of Office (or use a previous key code). If you don’t wish you go the route of purchasing office, you can still use programs like WordPad to do your word processing.
The HP EliteBook I tested came in at $1,099, which isn’t too outrageous considering that it was pretty powerful, durable and offered key business-focused features. Still, with so many ultrabooks coming out that are thinner and less expensive, it’s probably a little bit on the steep end.
The price of the machine will vary, of course, depending what kind of features you add to it, of course.
This is a machine that knows who its target audience is, and goes straight for them. It’s not meant to be a home computer; most of us want something larger for our everyday home use and media viewing, so this just wouldn’t work in that regard. But when you’re on the road and need to take care of business, and want a powerful, light and secure machine — there are fewer options available to you. That’s the market space where this machine will be an option, and it’s not a bad option at all — as long as you’re prepared to settle for the 11.6-inch screen, which will be too small for some folks’ tastes, and aren’t expecting stellar display quality.
On the Web
For more information on the HP EliteBook 2170p, visit www.hp.com.
Follow Matt Myftiu on Twitter @MattMyftiu.