Small businesses have a number of choices these days when it comes to outfitting employees with affordable computers. HP has thrown another option into the ring with its 250 G4, an affordable budget laptop that comes with a full-fat Intel Core processor that's more capable of handling business applications compared to others in its price range.
It can be picked up for as little as £224 (around US$269) online, which places it squarely in budget territory and even on an even footing with Chromebooks and low-end 2-in-1 devices.
In terms of its design, the 15.6-inch 250 G4 looks like a budget offering. That's not saying much these days, with bargain bucket devices such as HP's own Stream 11 and Stream 14 bringing a splash of color to the low-end. Howeverr, the 250 G4 really is clad in black plastic from head-to-toe (or lid to keyboard base). HP has attempted to make it look less boring by giving the black base a thatched diamond effect, which is repeated in a silver mesh pattern on the lid, but it doesn't prevent the machine from looking dull.
Build quality is impressive for the price. There are signs of flex around the edges of the lid and base if you try to bend them with enough force, but the keyboard area stands up well to contortion. The 250 G4 is so clad in plastic that picking up scuffs over time is inevitable. Despite its plastic exterior, it's not a light device, tipping the scales at 2.8 pounds.
Even at the low-end, laptop makers have reduced the travel of their device's keyboards - and the 250 G4 is no exception. Its chiclet-spaced keys are of a decent size and typing is as pleasurable and fast as you will experience on a laptop in this price category. There's a roomy trackpad underneath that refrains from sticking as you scroll across it, and is paired with click buttons that both feel and sound cheap to use.
There's not much to shout about where the G410's display is concerned. Its lowly pixel-resolution of 1,366 x 768 is too cramped for multi-tasking and makes it difficult to pin apps or browsers side-by-side to use simultaneously. However, this is compensated somewhat by the display's high peak brightness which makes it easy to read websites, menus and labels without eye fatigue.
Horizontal viewing angles are average at best due to the TN panel used, and vertical ones are even worse. Color saturation and contrast is sufficient for everyday web browsing and general use, but you would be better off hooking up a desktop monitor for image editing.
The good news is that you can at least hook up the G410 to an external display using either the VGA or HDMI port build along the left-hand edge. They're accompanied by an ethernet port, two USB 2.0 ports, in addition to an optical drive, another USB port and an SDcard slot.
- Cinebench R15: OpenGL: 24.6 fps; CPU: 207 points
- Geekbench (Single-Core): 2,072 points; (Multi-Core) 4,292 points
- Battery test (1080p looped video streamed over Wi-Fi in Edge, 50% brightness): 3 hours 50 minutes
The real start of the show here is the HP 250 G4's Intel Core i3-5005U (dual core, 2GHz) processor, which is backed up by a healthy 8GB of RAM. These components aren't going to give you powerhouse performance, but having a full-fat Intel Core processor tucked away inside at this price point is a rarity. There's usually one of Intel's Celeron or Bay Trail variants instead. When it comes to CPU-intensive tasks such as working with large spreadsheets or high-resolution images and video, this budget laptop will give you the edge over others in its price range.
Unfortunately the processor can't compensate for the slow 5400rpm hard drive in there. HP has chosen a 1TB model, which provides plenty of room for storage. However, it's a spinning hard disk, rather than an SSD, and anything from boot to application loading times suffer as a result.
A low-resolution display is the all that mars an otherwise impressive package here. It's rare that you'll get an Intel Core-series processor lurking in a laptop like the HP 250 G4, and that alone means that businesses should at least consider it for workers who undertake certain tasks. It's not the prettiest or lightest 15-inch laptop out there, and users will need to hook it up to an external display for working with multiple applications or browser windows side-by-side.