Back in the day, business laptops were bulky, ugly crates that could splinter the spine of a fully-grown mountain bear. Thankfully that's all in the past, and now modern business portable PCs are not just slim and light, they're also surprisingly chic, appealing to the average consumer as well as suited and booted execs.
HP's business ultra-portable, the ProBook 5330m, follows the release of the ultra-slender and impressively waterproof Lenovo ThinkPad X1 last month. The HP ProBook 5330m packs Intel Sandy Bridge technology into a thin 28mm aluminium chassis, and the result is a heady mix of power and portability.
If you're constantly on the move, you'll love that slender build. This portable is just as thin as Lenovo's ThinkPad X1, and only a little chunkier than the Samsung 9000 Series and new Sony VAIO VPC-Z21V9E.
With a compact 13.3-inch screen, the HP ProBook 5330m slips into almost any backpack or carrier you might own. It won't weigh you down on lengthy trips either, thanks to the 1.9kg frame.
Yet despite the slim and light build, the HP ProBook 5330m is very well put together. The lid is sturdy, with only minor flex in the centre, and firmly connected via two solid hinges. We also struggled to find any weak spots in the two-piece chassis, which endured some severe pounding from our chunky fingers and came off no worse for wear.
Unfortunately the HP ProBook 5330m's appearance caused split opinions at TechRadar. Some felt the body was rather boxy and plain, while others warmed to the almost retro design. Make up your own mind on that one.
The keyboard fills a good chunk of the chassis and is laid out in the popular 'isolation-style' design (each key pokes up through a separate hole in the chassis, which spreads them out).
The keys are surprisingly well-sized, despite the HP ProBook 5330m's compact chassis, so touch typing is a quick and comfortable experience. Even the arrow keys aren't too cramped compared to some, although the Enter key is relegated to a single row high.
However, the travel of the keys is rather shallow when they're hit, and we found the occasional button press didn't register. A particular offender, for some reason, was the 'o' key. Reading back over this review, we found lots of instances of 'laptp' and 'PrBok'. It's not a massive issue, but can be annoying when doing internet searches.
The touchpad is perfect, thankfully. The smooth surface covers a wide area, with raised mouse buttons that make them easy to click. It's surprisingly common for a touchpad to be duff, but the HP ProBook 5330m's is a winner.