There's no shortage of quality in the laptop market at present, which is a great thing for those looking to buy a new machine.
However, the explosion of Ultrabooks has served to expose the swathes of poor quality, bulky and slow laptops that have plagued consumers over the last few years, and the HP ProBook 4535s is one such machine.
The polished silver lid offers a hint of quality when you first approach the ProBook but that's where the positives end. The inside is grey and lifeless, lacking any kind of personality. The trackpad is small, but responsive, and the keys basic, black, and plasticky.
If you're more interested in performance than looks, things aren't much better on the inside. The ProBook features a quad-core AMD Vision A6-3400 processor, which has a clock speed of just 1.4GHz.
There are all kinds of power-boosting tech inside, which should bring performance up to over 2GHz without impacting battery life, but we found the ProBook struggled in terms of performance. The benchmark scores don't reflect this, however: it performed in the labs on par with many Ultrabooks, thanks to that power-boosting technology.
But, more importantly, we found the ProBook to be much slower in real terms. We timed a boot from cold to be over four minutes until the system was usable. After running Windows Update, we did take this down to 2 minutes - but it's still a very painful experience.
Crapware is a huge part of this performance drain. Annoyingly, HP has pre-loaded the ProBook with a host of applications which ruin performance.
Elsewhere the ProBook has 4GB of RAM, a huge 640GB drive which is good value at this price point and integrated graphics on the AMD Vision chip, which packs enough power to play HD movies.
It's often unfair to rate a system that's not aimed at the home user on how it performs on leisure tasks, but the ProBook isn't a great business laptop either. There's no added security such as a fingerprint reader, and at 2.6kg, you won't want to have it on the road with you while working.
The only saving grace is that the HP ProBook has a matte screen, which is good for working in direct sunlight.
The battery score of 174 minutes is also impressive, and will equate to around four hours of web surfing and basic office based tasks, if you do lug it away from the office.
In short, the HP ProBook 4535s is a basic laptop which suffers from a low quality build, without really offering a pay-off for home or business users. There are much better machines around for the price, and we can only hope that the Ultrabooks of this world can put an end to this kind of bland, unloved laptop to bed forever.
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