Review – HP ProBook 5330m Laptop with Beats Audio

Posted on Apr 8 2012 - 5:36pm by Mike Wewerka

HP ProBook 5330m Review   HP ProBook 5330m Laptop with Beats Audio

For years, I’ve always used a Mac, be it an iMac, Mac Pro or MacBook Pro, for all my personal and business needs. I believe it all stems from attending, and graduating from, an art college. It was ingrained in our heads, that Macs were superior to Windows PC’s for an artist’s needs, which may be true, but are Mac superior to Windows for everything? Not necessarily. They both do things well and have certain advantages over the other. I’m not “anti-windows,” I just haven’t found a reason to switch back. So when HP sent me the ProBook 5330m laptop, I was intrigued to see if this was the computer that would have yearning to go back to a PC or would it just another reason why I remain on the Mac platform. So which was it? Read on to find out.

Hardware Design:
The first thing most people will notice about the ProBook 5330m, is that it has a beautiful brushed aluminum exterior, except on the bottom, which is made of a magnesium alloy, then coated with a rubberized paint, to give it a softer, more gentle feel, yet it’s still more durable than plastic (it also gets much hotter than plastic, too). You can tell right off the bat, that the designers at HP were aiming to compete with Apple’s MacBook Pro, and while it may not utilize the same “uni-body” solid aluminium build as the MacBoo Pro, it still gives the user a quality and solid feel for almost half the cost. HP equipped the 5330m with a 13.3-inch display with a resolution of 1366×768. The 13-inch display helps keep the overall footprint of the device to a minimum, but still gives you plenty of screen workspace. When you combine the size of the device with the thickness, or should I say thinness (the 5330m is only 2.52cm or .99-inches), you have the makings of a very portable computer. To top it all off, the 5330m weighs less than 4lbs (3.99) making it easy to drop in a bag or briefcase, without feeling like you’re carrying around a bag of bricks.

Overall, the design may not be of “Apple quality,” but it’s much more affordable (starting at around $899) and it’s far beyond what competitors like Dell or Lenovo offer. It has a look and feel that will please causal customers and business users alike.

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As I previously mentioned, the display on the 5330m is 13.3-inches and offers a 720p resolution (1366×768). What I didn’t mention is that it’s an “anti-glare” display, meaning it doesn’t have that high-gloss coating on the display. While glossy displays do look nice, this anti-glare display allows users to use the laptop virtually anywhere (especially outside) without the hassle of glare from the sun, lamps or other light sources. The resolution itself is fine for a 13-inch display, while a higher-resolution would be great, I didn’t encounter any issue of things being blurry or fuzzy. In fact, I’m using it to write this review and with all the writing/reading I’m doing, I’m very pleased with clarity of on-screen text. As for watching movies, it could be better, as in the blacks could be deeper. While the colors were bright, they weren’t exactly spot on, as someone who does professional graphic design work, I’d suggest hooking up to a monitor that has more accurate colors values, especially if you’re doing something where that matters.

Gaming and productivity software looks great and honestly, for the average consumer, who doesn’t need specific color values, they won’t even notice.

HP ProBook 5330m Beats Review   HP ProBook 5330m Laptop with Beats Audio

The 5330m is the first “business or enterprise” computer to receive Beats Audio integration and while it does make the sound a little better, there are still some issues. First and foremost, is the location of the speakers. Rather than placing the speakers on the top, typically near the display, like most laptops, HP decided to place them on the bottom front lip, facing down. This isn’t really an issue when you’re using the computer on a desk or table, but if you place it on your lap (this is a laptop after all) then you may have an issue with the sound being muffled. That all being said, the sound is slightly improved, but nothing I would consider “groundbreaking.” Just because it features Beats Audio, don’t think you’re going to get the same quality sound you would from a pair of $300 Beats over-the-ear headphones.

Keyboard and TouchPad/Buttons:
If you’ve ever used a MacBook or MacBook Pro, be it that you owned one or messed with one in a store once, then you’ll have a good idea how the keyboard is setup on the ProBook 5330m. The keys are flat, but do have a very slight texture to them, which helps to prevent your fingers from easily slipping off. The other nice feature is the spacing between the keys, they are close enough to find when you’re typing quickly, but far enough away from each other to prevent you from accidentally hitting two keys at once. Like the MacBook Pro, HP added an LED back light to the keyboard, so now when you are typing in a low-light or dark area, you’ll be able to easily see your keyboard. This is perfect for heavy business users who does a lot of airline travel, but still has to get their work done.

The 5330m’s touchpad is nice, smooth and very responsive. But I did have one issue while using it all day, it’s a little small. Compared to my MacBook Pro, which is much larger, not to mention that even were the “click” pad is on the MacBook, it’s still touch sensitive. HP gives up a little touchpad real estate for the mouse buttons, so the touchpad is slighter smaller as a result. Other than the size, it worked great, I didn’t find any lag or skipping and unlike some touchpads, where if you finger becomes sweaty, they start to become unresponsive, that wasn’t the case on the 5330m.

HP did a great job with both the keyboard and touchpad and while I did find the physical buttons to be a little mushy, it wasn’t enough to complain about, it could just be that I’m so use to the MacBook’s clickpad.

HP ProBook 5330m bottom Review   HP ProBook 5330m Laptop with Beats Audio

Battery Life:
After spending some time testing out the machines performance, I decided to push it hard to see how long the battery would last. I’m the kind of person that likes my brightness way up, unless I’m in the dark, so I turned up the brightness to max and began making blog posts, viewing a few youtube videos and playing some online games. After all my “work,” I finally managed to wear the battery out. HP’s website says that the battery typically lasts about 5 hours and 30 minutes, so you can imagine that I was surprised to see the battery official conked out at 4 hours and 45 mins. Is that bad? Considering that I probably do a lot more heavy work than a typical teenager and do more typing in a day than the average enterprise employee and when you average in the fact that I had the brightness set to max, no, not at all. That being said, HP’s 5 hour and 30 minute “spec” time isn’t the best when placed side by side its competitors. But where it fails to match them in battery, it destroys them in other areas. So to me, it’s an even trade off.

HP’s ProBook 5330m is without a doubt a little powerhouse. It may not be an Alienware, but it will play most new games with ease. As for a business or enterprise customer, you couldn’t ask for a better machine to take on the road. At just under 1-inch thick and a weight under 4lbs, it’s easy to travel with and with its “MacBook Pro” inspired design, it’s strong, sturdy and let’s be honest, easy on the eyes. It has a beautiful brushed aluminum two-toned chassis and a nice compact 13.3 display footprint.

With a starting price of around $900, it certainly beats Apple’s MacBook Pro by almost $1,000. When you combine the Intel i5 processor, 4GB of RAM, 500GB harddrive (with an optional SSD for a little extra) HD graphics and of course Beats Audio, that’s an impressive package for a great price.

So would it make me ditch my MacBook Pro? Not just yet. But I’ll be honest, it’s not for a lack of hardware or design on HP’s part. I think the machine HP has built in the 5330m is quite impressive and I could see myself buying one, if I didn’t already have a MacBook and if I could install Windows 8 on it. Windows 7 is really the main reason I wouldn’t give up my MacBook Pro at this point. But after using the Windows 8 consumer preview, I’m really looking forward to the chance to install it on a new laptop, even something like the 5330m.

I would absolutely recommend the 5330m to a current Windows PC user who’ looking to either upgrade or add a new machine to their life. It’s versatile, well-built and powerful, and at the same time, compact, portable and stylish. If you’re in the market for a new Laptop, you should definitely put the HP ProBook 5330m on your list of machines to check out. SCORE: 8.8 / 10

System features
Operating system Genuine Windows® 7 Professional 64Windows7 Review   HP ProBook 5330m Laptop with Beats Audio
Processor Intel® Core™ i5-2520M (2.50 GHz, 3 MB L3 cache)
Chipset Mobile Intel® QM67 Express
Environmental BFR/PVC-free
Dimensions and weight
Weight Starting at 3.99 lb (1.82 kg)
Dimensions (W x D x H) 12.91 x 8.86 x 0.99 in (32.8 x 22.5 x 2.52 cm)
Standard memory 4 GB 1333 MHz DDR3 SDRAM
Memory slots 1 SODIMM
Internal drive 500 GB 7200 rpm SATA II
Display 13.3″ diagonal LED-backlit HD anti-glare (1366 x 768)
Graphics Intel HD 3000 Graphics
Expansion features
Ports 1 USB 2.0
1 USB 2.0 charging
1 combo stereo headphone/mic jack
1 RJ-45
1 eSATA/USB combo
1 AC power
(HDMI port supports direct connection to high-definition displays with up to 1920 x 1200 resolution and 7-channel audio with one convenient cable (not included).)
Slots 1 SD/MMC
Audio Beats Audio; Stereo speakers; Integrated dual-microphone array; Combo headphone/microphone jack
Integrated camera HD webcam
Keyboard Full-sized, spill-resistant, backlit keyboard
Input devices Touchpad with gestures support, on/off button with LED indicator, two-way scroll, two pick buttons
Network interface 10/100/1000
Wireless Broadcom 802.11a/b/g/n
Bluetooth 2.1+EDR
HP un2430 EV-DO/HSDPA Mobile Broadband (Gobi 3000)
Power and operating requirements
Energy efficiency ENERGY STAR® qualified; EPEAT® Gold
Power supply 65W Smart AC adapter
Battery  type 4-cell (41 WHr) Li-Ion Polymer
Battery life Up to 5 hours and 30 minutes
Operating temperature range 41 to 95°F (5 to 35°C)
Security management
Security management HP ProtectTools Security Manager: Credential Manager, Computrace Pro
Device Access Manager, Drive Encryption, Face Recognition, File Sanitizer, Privacy Manager, Embedded Security
HP Fingerprint Sensor
Enhanced Pre-Boot Security (Multiuser / Multifactor)
HP SpareKey
One-Step Logon
TPM 1.2 Embedded Security Chip
HP Disk Sanitizer
Security lock slot
Support for Intel AT
What’s included
Software installed Microsoft® Office Starter: reduced-functionality Word and Excel® only, with advertising. No PowerPoint® or Outlook®. Buy Office 2010 to use the full-featured software.
Manageability features HP 3D DriveGuard
Warranty HP Services includes a one-year standard parts and labor warranty, pick-up or carry-in, and toll-free 7 x 24 hardware technical phone support. On-site service and warranty upgrades are also available.