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HP ProBook 4510s-NX613EA - 15.6in Business Laptop
HP's ProBook range certainly makes an impression. Not only is it very good value for money - in the 15.6in NX613EA you're getting a capable 2.1GHz Core 2 Duo CPU, 3GB of RAM, a 320GB hard drive and plenty of extras for just £470 excluding VAT - for a business laptop it's also quite visually alluring.
Before you even open the 4510s up, its solid, unashamedly square chassis forms a stark contrast to most mobile machines with their curves and tapered edges. Unfortunately the glossy black lid, though it looks nice, picks up fingerprints like the CSI team on a triple homicide. There's also just a bit too much flex for our liking towards the lid's centre.
Opening up the laptop reveals a good-looking, all-black interior. This isn't quite the dull, ugly appearance of most cheap laptops, though it's no design marvel, either. Housed within the glossy bezel is a 2.0 megapixel webcam, while below its lower edge is a raised metal grille, containing a silver shortcut button and power button both tastefully backlit in cyan.
Below the metal grille we have an isolation-style keyboard, which like Apple, HP refers to as 'chicklet'. Keys are somewhat smaller than we're used to seeing on HP laptops, but as usual it's still very comfortable and the new design allows for plenty of key separation. A slightly narrower than normal left-Ctrl key is the only compromise in the layout, but it's a small inconvenience given you also benefit from a full number pad. Fundamentally, then, this is a very good keyboard and it delivers excellent tactile feedback, too.
Below the excellent keyboard is a raised wrist rest coated in soft-touch plastic; an effect continued on the touchpad and its buttons. Unfortunately this finish really shows off grease so it's almost as bad as the lid, which is hardly ideal in a business laptop that might be shared among different people. It looks and feels nice, but it's not necessarily practical.
Still, the recessed touchpad is a delight to use and it's placed so that your palms won't accidentally brush the pad while typing. Similar praise can't be lavished on its buttons. While they're well-positioned they feel a tad loose and imprecise. Build quality for the rest of the machine is pretty good though, despite the previously mentioned flexing lid, which is only a minor complaint.