HP ProBook 5320m Review - Connectivity, Usability and AV Review


Connectivity is nothing exciting, if a bit unusual in its layout. On the 5320m’s left side we have VGA and DisplayPort video outputs. The latter is a common enough replacement for DVI/HDMI on higher-end business machines, though as this is still a relative rarity in monitors we feel it’s a somewhat restricting choice. Between these is nestled a Gigabit Ethernet port. At the right is a small SD memory card reader, a single 3.5mm jack that acts as both headphone and microphone connector (another potentially annoying restriction) and three USB 2.0 ports, one of which is powered.

HP hasn’t managed to squeeze an ExpressCard slot or optical drive into the chassis, and though it does sell a matching USB-powered external DVD rewriter, the premium this demands means you’re better off just buying a generic one. For wireless transmission we have 802.11n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 2.1, and it’s always nice to see a dedicated physical wireless switch (backlit in blue when active or orange when turned off) to the side of the keyboard. A HSPA/3G mobile broadband module is optional.

As usual with HP laptops, the spill-resistant keyboard here is a pleasure to use. The matt, tile-style keys feature a DuraKeys finish that’s supposed to be hard-wearing, are well-spaced, and offer light but well-defined feedback. The only possible issues worth noting are that there are no shortcuts on the cursor keys, and that our review model actually had a US layout. This means a smaller Enter key, and we can’t confirm whether the UK layout rectifies this.

Likewise, the well-situated touchpad is great. Its finish scores just the right balance between softness and smoothness, and is clearly delineated by being slightly recessed. The pad supports multi-touch, and its separate buttons are large, nicely raised and offer a positive click. A fingerprint scanner is discreetly set into the laptop’s right palm-rest.

Getting onto image quality, the 13.3in display sports a 1,366 x 768 resolution, which gives a good balance between desktop real estate and legibility. Its performance is only mediocre, however. Grey-scale differentiation is below average, managing neither the darkest nor lightest shades. Viewing angles, both horizontally and vertically, are also not the best, though with a business machine this could be considered a ‘privacy-enhancing feature’. Last of all there’s some very minor light bleed from the bottom corners. However, backlighting is even, there’s no sign of banding and colours are fairly realistic, which combines with excellent sharpness to make it competent for its intended market.

Aurally, the 5320m is also middle of the road. Its speakers produce reasonable volume levels without distorting but are tinny at the best of times. Again, perfectly adequate for business use but films will require a dedicated set or some decent headphones.

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