by Kevin O'Brien
The HP Compaq 2230s is an ultra-portable consumer notebook that is targeted towards small businesses similar to the Dell Vostro or Lenovo SL series line of machines. This notebook gives consumers a less expensive option than the HP EliteBook series, with a starting price of $999 instead of $1,679. How well does the 2230s hold up against business-grade notebooks? Should you purchase one of these or consider a similarly-priced consumer notebook? Let's take a closer look and find out.
Our review unit of the HP Compaq 2230s came with the following options:
Build and Design
The design of the HP Compaq 2230s is somewhat like a black Apple MacBook, with a clean all-black plastic exterior. As far as business notebooks go, it is HP’s attempt to compete with the Dell Vostro line, offering a more consumer look and feel to a business notebook. The all-black color scheme continues into the interior of the notebook, with the palmrest, touchpad, keyboard, and trim all covered in matching black. An interesting design change over a consumer notebook is the touch sensitive controls above the keyboard which normally activate media functions. On the HP 2230s, these control system functions such as external displays, wireless on/off, and volume.
The build quality turned out to be very unappealing and unlike what we've come to expect from a business or even small business grade notebook. The moment you pick up the 2230s you'll notice a great deal of flex in the screen cover from very thin unsupported plastic. Opening up the notebook you find the same thing around the main chassis, with weak plastic surrounding the keyboard. The palmrest has plenty of flex on either side, with the side above the optical drive being the worse of the two. On the optical drive side you have flex on the palmrest as well as the bottom shell when gripping the notebook from the side. The notebook feels more like a budget consumer notebook than a small business notebook with a starting price of $999. The only real advantage of the thin plastic material used is the total notebook weight is kept at a minimum. Unfortunately, the thin plastics don't give this notebook a feeling of durability.
The glossy WXGA display on the HP Compaq 2230s is pretty nice, with vibrant colors and high contrast. Black levels are average with some grey apparent in dark settings depending on the angle you are viewing the panel. Vertical viewing angles are adequate for regular day-to-day use, but colors invert when outside of the 10-15 degree up or down sweet spot. Horizontal viewing angles are better, keeping colors true even to the very edge of being able to still see the screen from the side of the notebook. Brightness levels are above average, enough to comfortably view the screen in a bright office setting. Using the notebook outside would be limited with the glossy display because of reflections, but should be fine as long as you are under shade.
Keyboard and Touchpad
The keyboard could be considered one of the redeeming factors of this notebook, offering a very comfortable typing surface with very solid support. Unlike the screen cover, palmrest, or case, the keyboard exhibits no flex at all ... even under strong pressure. Individual key action is smooth with a muted click when fully pressed. Key spacing and size is excellent even with the small 12” form factor. The only part I feel could be improved is the size of the function keys, which are almost 1/3 the overall size of a standard key.
The touchpad is a Synaptics model, with a smooth matte texture surface that is seamless with the palmrest. The size is great without feeling cramped, offering plenty of space even with the scroll bar section. The touchpad buttons have a long throw offering soft feedback with no audible clicks.
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