The Bottom Line
Sep 27 2011 - HP's ProBook 5330m offers a good value for those looking at a solidly built business class computer. Its aluminum and magnesium body may look a bit dated but is very well built. Performance is good thanks to a high speed hard drive but there are similarly priced laptops that come with faster processors. The big selling point for business users is the built in mobile broadband that allows for greater range of connectivity than standard Wi-Fi. It is too bad that HP uses such a small battery which limits its running time compared to the competition. The keyboard is also not one of the better HP models due to a bit too much flex and slick keys.
- Sturdy Construction
- Nice Anti-glare Coated Display
- Mobile Broadband Built-In
- Below Average Battery Life
- Keyboard Exhibits a Bit Too Much Flex
- Intel Core i3-2310M Dual Core Mobile Processor
- 4GB PC3-10600 DDR3 Memory
- 500GB 7200rpm SATA Hard Drive
- 13.3" WXGA (1366x768) LED Backlit Display With 1.3 Megapixel Webcam
- Intel HD Graphics 3000 Integrated Graphics
- Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11a/g/n Wireless, Bluetooth, HSPA+ Wireless
- Three USB 2.0, eSATA (shared), HDMI, VGA, 3-in-1 Card Reader
- 12.9" x 8.9" x 1" @ 4 lbs.
- Windows 7 Professional, Office Starter
Review - HP ProBook 5330m
Sep 27 2011 - With it silver aluminum finish, the HP ProBook 5330m may look like a MacBook Pro 13 but it does have a very different feel. It may be made of aluminum (except for the bottom which is magnesium) but it uses a boxy design that makes it feel like this laptop came from many years ago rather than a modern design. In addition, the keyboard deck is outlined by the aluminum which contrasts heavily with the greys and blacks of the keyboard.
For the version of the HP ProBook 5330m that I'm looking at, it comes equipped with the Intel Core i3-2310M dual core processor. This is a fairly low end second generation processor from Intel but the performance is considered enough for most business type applications that the average office worker would use. With 4GB of DDR3 memory, it should handle productivity and internet applications without much problem. Those looking to do more demanding media type tasks such as desktop video would definitely want to look at a model equipped with a higher performance Core i5 processor.
Storage on the HP ProBook 5330m is a bit mixed. The hard drive is large for a business class system at 500GB but this is pretty standard for a consumer system. What is nice is that the drive spins at the faster 7200rpm spin rate typically found in desktops that offers it improved performance over. With its inch thick profile, it would have been nice to see HP put an optical drive in the system as Apple has done with their MacBook Pro 13. Still, the lack of the optical drive does provide a bit more in terms of peripheral ports. There is no USB 3.0 port for high speed external storage devices but one of the USB 2.0 ports is a shared eSATA port for use with external hard drives at near internal drive speeds.
Since this is a business class laptop, the display thankfully uses a matte coating rather than the glossy coatings found in many of the consumer oriented laptops. This makes it very functional outdoors and in certain light as it helps keep down glare and reflections. The display itself has nice wide viewing angles and good brightness and contrast levels. Tilt the screen a bit forward though and the color will wash out quickly. The graphics are handled by the Intel HD Graphics 3000 processor that is built into the Core i3 chip. It does its job just fine in a business setting but does lack much 3D performance. At least it supports QuickSync for boosting media encoding performance with compatible applications.
The keyboard design for the HP ProBook 5330m uses an isolated design that HP has been using for some time. The downside is that they used some very smooth keys and there is a bit too much flex in the keyboard. The result is a less than impressive typing experience but it is still acceptable. The trackpad is a nice size for the laptop and is very accurate. It uses dedicated left and right buttons which is nice compared to the rocker bar design that has been seen in many HP consumer products lately.
One nice aspect of the HP ProBook 5330m is the wide range of connectivity options that are built into it. It supports the full range of Wi-Fi standards including both the 5GHz and 2.4GHz versions of 802.11b and has Bluetooth for peripherals. What it also adds is an HSPA+ compatible mobile broadband modem built into the system. Of course, this will require a wireless contract with a compatible broadband mobile service provider, but it allows it to stay connected in areas when Wi-Fi is unaviable.
Unlike many 13-inch laptops that use six cell battery packs, HP has decided to use a smaller four cell battery with just a 41 WattHr rated capacity for the ProBook 5330m. This is certainly going to give it less running time as it has roughly two thirds of the battery capacity. In video streaming playback testing, the laptop was able to run for roughly three and a quarter hours before going into standby mode. More typical usage should yield roughly an extra hour. Now, this would be average for laptops with this size battery but it is less than those with larger batteries. The battery is removable so it is possible for business travelers to carry a spare charged pack.
With an $800 price tag, the laptop has a very good price for such a solidly built business PC with decent performance. The big problem is that at this same price, the Dell Vostro V131 offers a slightly faster system with longer battery life. So, if performance and running time are important, there are other options but it might be hard to find a better constructed laptop at this price point.