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With a few notable exceptions like the Dell Latitude E4200, business notebooks tend to be a bit on the plain side compared to their consumer counterparts. While HP's latest 12.1in 2230s business notebook doesn't stray too far from this ethos, it does add a few glossy bits and more importantly, some connectivity you might not expect from a business machine.
Outside, the 2230s does look quite plain but the black finish used is only semi-matte, striking the ideal balance between avoiding fingerprints and not looking too dull. An embossed silver HP logo certainly does nothing to detract from its simple appeal, either.
Opening the notebook up, there are further consumerist touches, with a piano black bezel around the screen. Fortunately, the palm rests, keyboard and touchpad are all matte, with the only other glossy sections being a thin strip around the keyboard, the power button, the touch-sensitive media controls and the touchpad's buttons.
Overall, the 2230s is attractive and mostly practical, but there are some concessions to cost in the build of the machine. That's not to say that the 2230s is weak or flimsy, but the plastics used don't feel as solid as we're used to with business machines.
Above the keyboard, the power button is backlit in white and together with the touch-sensitive media controls is set into a black metal speaker grille which runs along the entire width of the keyboard. The touch-sensitive controls are fairly accurate, turning from white to orange to indicate status changes.
The first one of these calls up HP Info Centre, which brings up a handy panel that accesses HP's 3D DriveGuard (a technology to protect the drive which I'll explain later) Help and Support, HP ProtectTools Security Manager, Software Setup, Wireless Assistant and User Guide. Next to this is are shortcuts for presentation settings and wireless, and last of all volume controls. Overall, it's a genuinely useful selection for many business users.
As one would expect from the company that designed what is still the best netbook keyboard on the market, the 2230s' keyboard is very good. Though feedback is on the shallow side it's still well-defined, while the broad matte keys are very comfortable. Layout is logical, with the only minor complaint being that the secondary icons on the F1-F12 keys can be a little difficult to make out.
Moving down to the recessed Synaptics touchpad, its surface (which is the same as the palm-rests) is pleasant: smooth but not slippery. As mentioned before, the two buttons are glossy, but though they do pick up fingerprints easily these are only visible from a very limited angle. Their feedback is good, though if we're being picky they do go down a bit far for ideal comfort.