Business users and consumers who want a well-built tablet PC have a few options on the market right now, including models from HP, Lenovo and Dell, among other manufacturers. HP just updated the aging EliteBook 2730p, replacing it with the EliteBook 2740p that includes upgrades to the latest Core i5 and i7 processors. In this review, we take an in-depth look at this newest business tablet PC and see how well it stacks up against the competition.
Our HP EliteBook 2740p Tablet Specifications:
- Screen: 12.1-inch WXGA (1280 x 800) UWVA LED Backlit Multitouch (Matte finish)
- Operating System: Windows 7 Professional (64bit)
- Processor: Intel Core i5-540M (2.53GHz, 3MB Cache)
- Memory: 4GB DDR3 RAM (2GB + 2GB)
- Storage: 250GB Toshiba 1.8″ HDD (5400rpm)
- Wireless: Intel 6200 802.11AGN, Bluetooth
- Graphics: Intel GMA HD Integrated Graphics
- Power: 44Wh primary battery, 46Wh slice battery, 65W 20V AC adapter
- Dimensions: 11.42 x 8.35 x 1.25″
- Weight: 3.93lbs
- Retail Price: $1,699
Build and Design
The HP EliteBook series of notebooks and tablets are known for their sturdy designs. In most cases, the EliteBook 2740p follows that trend, but with a subtle shift away from the brushed metal screen covers. Instead, HP uses a silver painted cover accented by black rubbery paint on the bottom of the chassis, which is similar to what’s found on Lenovo ThinkPads, but with a more “grippy” feel. The inside of the tablet follows the same silver theme with a brushed metal palmrest and a silver keyboard, which is carried over from the previous generation’s model. The screen bezel and other trim pieces have the same color scheme, with some brushed metal accent piece covering the screen hinge. The bottom of the tablet is black and designed with a flush-mount primary battery. A slice battery is an option on this system, which consists of a thin battery with the same footprint as the notebook. The battery clips securely onto the bottom of the notebook and effectively doubles battery capacity. Both the battery and the bottom chassis covered with the rubbery black paint, so you don’t lose the added grip once you clip on an external battery.
Build quality is good in most aspects but seems to fall behind other competing business models in areas surrounding screen protection. We noticed a few pressure points that showed up as “hotspots” on an all-black screen when viewed in a dark room. You could tweak or warp these spots by applying little to moderate pressure to the screen frame. Compared to the other EliteBook models on market with strong brushed metal lids, it seems strange for HP to use a weaker cover. If I had to guess, it would be that it was done for weight concerns. Outside of the screen cover, the rest of the EliteBook 2740p’s body is very well constructed with a durable and flex-free chassis and a nicely engineered external battery pack attachment system. The main notebook chassis gets its strength from a strong alloy framework and metal body panels. We found no flex in the palmrest or keyboard and no creaking around the rest of the chassis.
Users looking to upgrade or replace components will find it very easy to do so through a large access panel on the bottom of the tablet. After removing three screws, which are held in place with clips so they don’t get lost when loosened, you gain access to the hard drive, system memory, Wi-Fi card and WAN card. The hard drive on this model is a 1.8-inch SATA interface model, so upgrade options are limited for the end-user. Our review unit came equipped with a 1.8-inch 250GB HDD, so upgrading to an available SSD would be an option. One nice feature, even though our model didn’t have WWAN configured from the factory, is an included WWAN slot with pre-routed antennas. Other notebooks and tablets don’t include this feature if you don’t purchase it from the start.
Screen and Speakers
The HP EliteBook 2740p offers a 12.1-inch WXGA resolution ultra-wide viewing angle (UWVA) display with optional multitouch features. Our review model offered a two-finger multitouch surface that was quick to react to inputs and very accurate. It also supported pen-input for a higher level of accurate user-input. After a full pen calibration we found some drifting depending on the location on the screen, with a max offset of probably 2-3mm. Writing feel was very nice on the screen and very similar to a ballpoint pen on paper. Normally most touchscreen panels on the market suffer from a hazy appearance with the added layer on top of the display. HP mitigated that problem and the end result is that the screen looks like a standard matte-finish display.
In terms of color quality, everything looks evenly-saturated and natural. Contrast appears to be better than average with very nice black levels when viewing in a dark room. The UWVA screen helps keep colors looking consistent in steep viewing angles, which come into play when working with a tablet PC. We found no color distortion at steep horizontal or vertical viewing angles with only reflections off the screen limiting it from reaching a full 80-85 degrees. Peak screen brightness was measured at 226nit, plenty for bright indoor viewing, but falling short for outdoor use. For users who might want to venture outside, HP does offer an optional outdoor panel.
The speakers on the HP EliteBook 2740p are lap-firing drivers that produce very little midrange or bass. In our tests, we didn’t have any problem with peak volume levels as the speakers were easily heard in a small to medium-sized room. With the target market being primarily businesses, the speakers would be more than adequate for VOIP purposes or occasionally listening to music or streaming video. The system also features a single headset jack for connecting headphones or a headset with mic, which would be the preferred method of listening to music on this system.
Keyboard and Touchpad
The EliteBook 2740p has a sturdy, almost island-style keyboard with individual bezel structures surrounding each key. The color scheme consists of a metallic silver paint covering the body of the key with a slightly darker grey border surrounding a matte black label. HP used a flat-top key design on the 2740p, which is very similar to what you might find on a Chiclet type keyboard, but without the rounded keys. This type of keyboard design can be comfortable to use, although I am still a fan of the concave key shape since it is easier to center your fingers on each key while typing blind. The keys themselves have a solid feel with a smooth action, and emit a mild click when fully pressed. Keyboard flex is nonexistent indicating excellent support underneath.
The 2740p has both a Synaptics touchpad and pointing stick interface. The touchpad is short and wide, which issimilar to what is found on the Lenovo ThinkPad X201 Tablet,and has the advantage of an easily accessible vertical scroll bar. The touchpad is responsive with no lag present in our testing. Sensitivity was great out of the box without tweaking necessary. The pointing stick was also very responsive and didn’t have abnormal drift after it was used. Both the touchpad and pointing stick offer two mouse buttons, which are soft to the touch, with a rubbery coating and a good travel length when pressed. The buttons are soundless when fully pressed and give good feedback to indicate a complete click.
Ports and Features
The EliteBook 2740p offers an average port selection, including three USB 2.0 ports, VGA-out, LAN, Firewire 400, modem and a headset jack. The tablet also features a SmartCard reader, SDHC-card reader, and an ExpressCard/34 slot for expansion. Users looking to connect to a wide array of peripherals will enjoy the docking connector included on the system, which even passes through the extended slice battery.