HP Compaq 2510p Review

by Andrew Reads (431,616)

The HP Compaq 2510p is a 12.1" screen ultraportable notebook designed for business people that are frequently on the go. The Compaq 2510p replaces the older nc2400 ultraportable offering from HP. The 2510p improves upon the nc2400 by offering a touchpad, LED backlit display, the Intel Santa Rosa platform and a fresh new design look.


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Overview

If you recall back to late May of 2007 when HP released its entire new business notebook lineup, we discovered the new naming convention for business notebooks to have the following classification based on number grouping:

  • Ultra-Light (2000)
  • Balanced Mobility (6000)
  • High Performance (8000).

While the letter designations at the end of a model number indicate the following:

  • s = standard
  • b = business
  • p = professional
  • w = workstation

So by this formula the 2510p is classified as an ultra-light professional level notebook. The "professional" connotation means that you’ll get a slightly stronger build than a consumer notebook, more security features, less bloatware, better technical support and a finish that’s more appropriate for a business environment.

The Compaq 2510p starts at a price of around $1,549 from the HP.com business store and can be configured in various manners, though being an ultraportable you are somewhat limited in processor choice — you can choose between the Intel U7500 or U7600 ultra low voltage processor. Integrated graphics is the only choice you’ll have and the hard drive is a slowish 1.8" 4200RPM variety, so there’s no path to a super duper performance system. Rumor has it SSD might show up as an option at some point for this machine though.

The performance isn’t really what you’re looking for in an ultraportable though. It’s the utility factor and how capable it is for on the go work that matters with such a machine. The integrated optical drive, light weight, great screen, nice keyboard and overall good design will serve therefore serve as a focus in this review.

HP 2510p Specs as Reviewed:

  • Intel Core 2 Duo U7600 1.20GHz Ultra Low Voltage processor
  • Chipset: Mobile Intel GM965
  • Memory: 2GB DDR2 SDRAM, one user accessible slot
  • Hard Drive: 1.8-in PATA 100GB 4200RPM
  • Graphics: Intel GMA X3100
  • Wireless: Intel 802.11a/b/g/n, Bluetooth (built-in WWAN is an option through Verizon or AT&T in the U.S.)
  • Communications: Intel Gigabit Network Connection
  • Expansion Slots: 1 Type I/II PC Card slot, Secure Digital slot
  • Ports: 2 USB 2.0 ports, VGA, stereo microphone in, stereo headphone/line out, FireWire, power jack, RJ-11 modelm, RJ-45 ethernet, docking connector for HP 2400/2500 ultra-light docking station
  • Input: Full-sized ekyboard, dual pointing device
  • Dimensions: (h x w x d) 0.97-in x 11.11 in x 8.38 in
  • Weight: starting at 3.2lbs
  • Power: 9-cell (83 WHr), 6-cell (55 WHr) or 3-cell (28 WHr)
  • Warranty: 3-year limited, 1-year on battery

Design


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The HP Compaq 2510p looks like a mini-me version of the larger 6510b (14") and 8510p (15") business notebooks. HP uses the same design across its line of business notebooks, which is a good thing, they’ve standardized on a professional yet stylish bluish-silver metallic lid with black trim on the inside that should appeal to just about anyone. The front corners are slightly rounded to give a nice smooth look and to avoid any sharp edges from poking you.

The LED lights on the front right side of the 2510p help to give it an added stylish look, and above the keyboard there are light-up touch sensitive controls that look more elegant and futuristic than a regular old push button. The smoothly integrated touchpad provides a nice clean look as well. The keyboard and screen bezel are a matte black color, this provides a fine look as well as making sure dirt and fingerprints don’t show up.

Build

The overall build quality of the HP 2510p is very good. A latch is used to hold the screen down when stowed, I really like the rubber gripped latch opener because it’s easy to feel and find without looking down at the notebook and easy to operate. There’s no fiddling to open the screen.

The lid of the notebook is constructed of a firm mag-alloy material and will endure the bumps of the road. When the back of the lid is pushed on no screen ripples appear, indicating that the protection is quite adequate. The same mag alloy material is used on the palm rests area which makes sure this area is sturdy and doesn’t sink under the weight of your hands. The keyboard is also firm with absolutely no mushiness or sink to it.


The 2510p has an integrated optical drive, quite rare for ultraportables (view large image)

The hard drive is shock mounted for protection, though there is no fancy accelerometer like ThinkPads have that lifts the hard drive head in the event of a drop. The entire bottom of the laptop is as sturdy as the lid with little flex to it, so your protection there should be good. Overall the 2510p is a very well built and solid feeling little laptop.


A look at the under side of the notebook (view large image)

Travelling – Weight and Battery Life

While using the Compaq 2510p I had the opportunity to take it on some travels, which is what an ultraportable is designed to do. The 2510p was used on a 4-hour train ride between Boston and New York and on a plane trip I took between Cincinnati and New York. Even though my regular 14-inch screen laptop weighs a fairly light 5lbs, it was so nice to have a laptop that had a weight of just over 3lbs, I could hardly tell it was in my backpack as it weighs less than some textbooks. The real miracle with the 2510p is that it has an integrated optical drive — something I really prefer to have that a majority of ultraportables leave out. I weighed the 2510p using a scale and below are the readings for various weight configurations:

HP 2510p Configuration Weight
With 3-cell battery 3.22 lbs
With 6-cell battery 3.56 lbs
With 3-cell battery and power adapter + cord 4.06 lbs
With 6-cell battery and power adapter + cord 4.40 lbs

You can configure the 2510p with integrated Verizon or AT&T broadband access. I can attest that on the train you can actually stay connected 90% of the time if you’re travelling on the East coast of the U.S. at least. Pretty cool! It allowed me to crank out some work I couldn’t have done without being connected.

When I wasn’t doing work, I had a DVD from Netflix that I had just received and wanted to watch, and having the integrated optical drive (DVD +/- RW) made that easy. Yes, I know you can convert media and put it on your hard drive for viewing, but when time is a premium then it’s much less hassle to just have a disc you can pop-in to the machine itself.


Above is an image of the 2510p with the 6-cell battery in, you can see it protrudes from the back (view large image)

I had two different batteries for the 2510p, a small 3-cell battery and a larger sized 6-cell that sticks out of the back of the notebook. The larger battery adds more life at the cost of additional weight. I’m willing to carry a bit more weight for the extra battery life, it’s always nice to have both types of batteries so you can pick your "weapon of choice" depending on the situation. Using the 3-cell battery with wi-fi on and screen brightness at half I got 3 hours and 10 minutes of usage. With the 6-cell battery with wi-fi on and screen brightness at half I got 6 hours and 20 minutes of usage. Extrapolate the results and you would expect the high capacity 9-cell battery to give you about 9 hours of battery life. Quite amazing.

Input and Output Ports

The Compaq 2510p has everything you really need and would expect to find in an ultraportable. Below is a picture tour of what you get on each side.

Front side:

On the front you simply have a latch for opening the screen up. The LED light indicators can be seen on the left side.


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Left side:

On the left side of the notebook are located a power jack, modem port and powered USB port. You also see the optical drive, a DVD SuperMulti in this case. Very nice to have in an ultraportable.


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Right side:

On the right side of the notebook is a PC card slot, SD card reader, FireWire port, headphone jack, microphone in, USB port, monitor out port and then an expansion dock connector.


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Back:

On the back of the notebook we just have the Ethernet port and a Kensington lock slot.


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If that selection of ports is not enough for you when on the go, then HP offers a docking station so you have more options when at your desk. The docking station includes two extra USB ports, audio out, mouse connector, parallel port, DVI, modem jack, Ethernet jack, monitor out, Serial port, keyboard connector, audio-in jack, composite video port and S-video jack.

Heat and Noise

The Compaq 2510p is mostly quiet in terms of fan noise, in fact in my time with the 2510p I never noticed the fans rev up to full speed except for when booting up. The Intel ULV processor certainly helps in regards to keeping overall system temperatures fairly low and the fan mostly unnecessary. The hard drive actually turned out to be louder than the fans, when it’s working hard you can hear it clicking away. There was a mild electric buzz that could be heard emitting from the machine, but only if you put your head down next to it and truly listened for such a noise.

There is some heat buildup that occurs on the system to the extent you can feel a temperature difference among certain areas. In particular the right palm rest got quite a bit warmer than the left, but not to the point it was uncomfortable. Below are graphics of temperatures (in degrees Fahrenheit) measured in each area of the notebook:


The temperatue on the right palm rest was warmer than the left (view large image)

 

The under side of the notebook on the back right side also got quite warm after the system had been on for a time.


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The temperatures you see diagrammed above are all quite normal and nothing that will feel more than just a bit warm to the touch when against the skin.

Processor and Performance

The HP 2510p uses an Intel ULV processor and integrated graphics, this is important because due to the tight space inside an ultraportable it’s hard to dissipate heat, so a lower powered processor and graphics chipset really helps to keep the heat down. The disadvantage is of course you won’t get the break neck performance speed you can cram into larger laptops. However, for the typical business person a 1.20GHz Intel U7600 processor will be just fine for email, web browsing, Office applications and whatever CRM application your company might be using. I personally used the 2510p for writing this review, some light web development using Visual Studio, lots of web browsing and running benchmark applications. The system was always responsive and generally free of lag.

Super Pi

SuperPi is a tool to measure relative CPU performance, it forces the processor to calculate Pi to 2-million digits of accuracy in our case.  As you can see the U7600 inside the 2510p isn’t the fastest, but it beats older Pentium M systems.

Notebook Time
HP Compaq 2510p (1.2GHz Core 2 Duo U7600) 1m 49s
ThinkPad X61s (1.6GHz Core 2 Duo L7500) 1m 08s
ThinkPad X61 (2.0GHz Core 2 Duo T7300) 1m 01s
Macbook Pro (2.4GHz Core 2 Duo T7700) 53s
HP 6515b (1.6GHz Turion64 X2 TL-52) 2m 05s
ThinkPad T42 (1.8GHz Pentium M 745) 1m 58s
Sony TX850p (1.2GHz Core Solo U1400) 1m 22s
Dell Latitude D420 (1.2GHz Core Duo U2500) 1m 57s
PortableOne UX (2.0GHz Core 2 Duo T7200) 1m 04s
HP dv5000z (2.0GHz Sempron 3300+) 2m 02s
ThinkPad R60 (1.66GHz Core Duo T2300e) 1m 26s
Lenovo C100 (1.5GHz Celeron M) 2m 19s
VAIO S380 (1.86 GHz Pentium M 740) 1m 45s

 

PCMark05

PCMark05 is a benchmarking software application which measures overall system performance.  The Compaq 2510p performed in line with other ultraportables, but of course fell short of scores from notebooks that have a regularly powered processor.

Notebook PCMark05 Score
HP Compaq 2510p (1.20GHz Intel U7600, Intel X3100) 2,339 PCMarks
Sony VAIO TZ90HS (1.2GHz Core 2 Duo ULV U7600) 2,517 PCMarks
Fujitsu LifeBook P7230 (Core Solo CPU U1400, 1.20GHz, Integrated graphics) 1,152 PCMarks
ThinkPad R60 (1.66 GHz Core Duo, Intel 950) 2,975 PCMarks
Fujitsu A6010 (1.66GHz Core 2 Duo, Intel 950) 2,994 PCMarks
MacBook Pro (2.4GHz Core 2 Duo, Nvidia 8600M) 5,536 PCMarks
Sony VAIO TX850p (1.2GHz Core Solo) 1,428 PCMarks
ThinkPad T61 (2.0GHz Core 2 Duo, Intel X3100) 4,084 PCMarks
Samsung X60plus (2.0GHz Core 2 Duo, ATI x1700) 4,555 PCMarks
Asus G1J (2.0GHz Core 2 Duo T7200, Nvidia 7700) 3,427 PCMarks
HP dv2500t (1.83GHz Core 2 Duo, T7300 Intel X3100) 3,376 PCMarks

 

3DMark05

3DMark05 measures the 3D graphics performance of a notebook, obviously the 2510p is not geared towards to being used for gaming and the low score reflects that. Windows Vista still ran okay with the integrated graphics though.

Notebook 3D Mark 05 Results
HP Compaq 2510p (1.20GHz Intel U7600, Intel X3100) 564 3DMarks
Toshiba Satellite U305 (1.8GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7100, Intel X3100) 876 3DMarks
Dell XPS M1330 (2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7300, NVIDIA GeForce Go 8400M GS 128MB) 3,116 3DMarks
HP Compaq 6510b (2.20GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7500, Intel X3100) 916 3DMarks
HP Compaq 6515b (1.6GHz AMD Turion 64 X2 TL-52, ATI x1270) 871 3DMarks
Dell Inspiron e1705 (2.0GHz Core Duo, ATI X1400) 1,791 3D Marks
Alienware Aurora M-7700(AMD Dual Core FX-60, ATI X1600 256MB) 7,078 3D Marks
Lenovo ThinkPad T60 (2.0GHz Core Duo, ATI X1400 128MB) 2,092 3D Marks

The 4200RPM hard drive is a bit of a performance bottle-neck for the HP 2510p. It’s the same type of drive used in iPod devices, so it’s far from being high-performance. Hopefully HP offers an SSD option soon.


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Screen

The 12.1" widescreen display on the 2510p is what HP calls "IllumiLite". This is actually just a marketing term for an LED backlit display. Whatever you call it, there are some definite advantages to having such a screen. The backlighting tends to be very even since there are no backlight sources focused at the top or bottom of the screen, the backlight source is evenly distributed all over. The LCD panel also tends to be lighter, keeping weight down. Finally, the LED technology is more battery friendly, and that’s always a good thing when it comes to notebooks.


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The 12.1" screen is offered with a WXGA resolution, and it is of course matte without that glossy finish so many consumer notebooks have. With WXGA (1280 x 800) on a 12.1" screen you can comfortably view one window at a time. Trying to fit two windows side-by-side is too much of a crunch.

One cool feature is the ambient light sensor on the 2510p that detects the amount of light in a room and adjusts the screen brightness accordingly. If you’re in the dark the screen will dim a bit since you don’t need such a strong backlight, in a bright setting the backlight will be adjusted up so that the screen isn’t overpowered by the external light.

Overall the screen brightness was fairly good for the 2510p. I actually had the chance to play with two different 2510p notebooks, one was pre-production and the other came off the regular production line. Strangely the pre-production unit screen was quite a bit brighter and had more accurate colors than the production model. The production model screen was adequately bright, probably in the 200-nits range of brightness. The viewing angles were acceptable, the only major complaint I have is the coloration on the production model was slightly off having a pinkish hue to it, so some callibration is necessary.

Audio

The speaker on the 2510p is on the bottom of the notebook and predictably bad. The volume does not get loud at all, but that’s probably okay because you wouldn’t want to try and rock out to a muffled and tinny speaker. System sounds are produced without a problem, but if your goal is to listen to music or a DVD then just get a decent pair of headphones to plugin and the problem is solved.

Keyboard and Touchpad


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The keyboard on the 2510p is very comfortable to use. Despite the fact this is an ultraportable, you still get a full-sized keyboard and you won’t be stuck with cramped fingers. The keyboard is very firm, there’s no sink to it anywhere. The only major challenge is the small size of the top row function keys, they’re half the size of the rest of the keys and can be tough to hit accurately if you have fat fingers.

The touchpad blends in nicely with the overall look of the notebook, it’s actually part of the casing. On the right side is a scroll area. It’s easy to disable the touchpad with a touch sensitive button at the top of the keyboard area. The touchpad is easy to use and responsive.

The pointing stick supplied with the 2510p is a feature I love to have on a notebook since it’s my preferred cursor navigation method. However, using the pointing stick on the 2510p was problematic. Any time I used the stick to move the cursor and then used the left mouse button in conjunction with the stick, such as when resizing windows, the left mouse click would register erratically — sometimes opening multiple windows, sometimes freezing the system momentarily, or sometimes working okay. HP sent a couple of 2510p units and both behaved the same way. I tried updating drivers and changing various settings in the included Synaptics driver software to get rid of this problem, but it persisted. Hopefully we just got twice unlucky in regards to this issue, I’m sure HP will address the problem if it does turn out to be something more widespread, they’re pretty good at listening to user feedback and updating drivers when necessary.

Button Controls


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HP went the route of using touch sensitive button controls instead of regular push buttons. This is something they started doing with their consumer line notebooks a while ago. I can’t say I’m a big fan of this. While it provides for a clean look, it makes it a bit tougher to control the volume. There are five quick launch touch sensitive buttons for disabling the touchpad, muting volume, turning on/off wireless, launching a presentation software manager, and launching an HP software utility — simply touching these buttons ie easy enough and there’s never any problems registering the touch. The touch sensitive volume control that requires you to slide your finger up or down to control volume was a bit finnicky though and not as responsive as a good old fashioned button. Toshiba put a volume dial on their business line Portege R500, while that’s pretty old school in terms of design, it sure works and is 100% intuitive.

Competition

It’s always interesting to consider what the competition is for a certain class of notebooks. When it comes to ultraportable business notebooks the HP 2510p competes with the following models from other makers:

  • Dell Latitude D430
  • Lenovo ThinkPad X61s
  • Toshiba Portege R500
  • Sony VAIO TZ

The Toshiba R500 and Sony TZ both offer LED backlit displays and an integrated optical drive at about 3lbs of weight, so I feel they’re probably the most similar and direct competitors to the 2510p. I’d take the 2510p over the R500 due to the better build quality, better screen and nicer keyboard. Unfortunately I haven’t had the chance to use the VAIO TZ to make any assessment there.

Conclusion

The HP Compaq 2510p is definitely a strong option in the ultraportable category. It improves on the previous Compaq nc2400 by offering a built-in optical drive while still keeping the weight about the same. The 2510p has a solid build and professional look. While it may not be as flashy as the competing Toshiba R500 or Sony VAIO TZ in terms of design, I think business people might prefer what I consider better usability, more durable build and more mature security and software suite the HP 2510p provides. The notebook isn’t perfect, the pointing stick issue and average display brightness that doesn’t live up to the "illumi-lite" billing that would lead you to expect a blazing bright display is dissapointing. I’d love to see SSD offered to boost performance over the standard 1.8" hard drive as well. Outside of that the HP 2510p is close to being a home-run for all the features it offers in such a small package, I’d certainly be happy to have it as a permanent travel companion!

Pros

  • Integrated optical drive in a package just over 3lbs
  • Quality build, will be able to take the beating of typical business travel
  • Very good battery life
  • Good keyboard, comfortable to use despite small system size
  • Professional and stylish look
  • Offers every type of wireless, including built-in WWAN, a business user could want

Cons

  • Issues with using the pointing stick in conjunction with a mouse click
  • Poor speaker
  • Slow hard drive performance
  • Right palm rest gets warm

 




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