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HP Elitebook 2730p

Durable Tablet PC convertible gets Centrino 2 upgrade and more
(by Conrad H. Blickenstorfer)

In August of 2008, HP introduced the HP Elitebook 2730p, a thoroughly modern Tablet PC convertible and successor to the earlier 2710p. While the Compaq name is gone and only little remains of the HP/Compaq tc1100's re-interpretation of Compaq's fabulous "Concerto" pen convertible of the mid 1990s, the Elitebook 2730p is an elegant, unique machine that does, in some respects, carry on some of the Compaq pen computing DNA and history.

Unlike the innovative tc1100, the Elitebook uses the common notebook convertible design with the rotating LCD case hinge. Gone also are the non-standard chip and digitizer solutions of prior Compaq/HP slates, all replaced with more standard Intel and Wacom Tablet PC fare. As a result, the 2730p is a much faster and entirely more pleasant machine, though some will miss the unconventional yet more purposeful tablet design of the older machines.

As is, the 2730p comes with a choice of low voltage or ultra-low voltage Intel Core 2 Duo processors and all the good Centrino 2 stuff. It has a wide-format WXGA (1280 x 800 pixel) 12.1-inch display with antiglare coating and an LED backlight. A sunlight-viewable version is available. A gigabyte of fast 800MHz memory is standard, and you can bump it up to a full 8GB in the computer's two slots. Quick 5400rpm SATA disks are available with 80 or 120GB capacity, or you can opt for a Solid State Drive. Wireless includes Bluetooth Class 2 and 802.11a/b/g/draft-n. You can also get an EV-DO/HSPA Mobile Broadband Module. Somewhat surprisingly for a machine this size, there is no internal optical drive but HP offers a SuperMulti DL drive in the HP 2700 Ultra-Slim Expansion Base.

The 2730p has a compact footprint of 11.25 x 8.35 inches and it is just 1.1 inches thick. Weight starts at 3.75 pounds. Documentation suggests a "95% full-size" QWERY layout, though it does indeed look full-size to us. Unlike the earlier 2710p, the new machine has both a touchpad and a pointstick. The pen can be stowed away in a garage on the left rear. A nice touch is the "HP Night Light" that illuminates the keyboard. it pops out from the top of the LCD and is completely unobtrusive.

For security, the 2730p has a fingerprint reader, a TPM 1.2 module, a Kensington lock slot, and several levels of software protection.

While the Elitebook 2730p is not a rugged machine, it is definitely durable thanks to a magnesium-alloy chassis, chemically-strengthened glass in front of the LCD, and goodies like HP DuraKeys and 3D DriveGuard. HP claims MIL-STD-810F testing compliance in several areas (dust, altitude, high temperature, etc.) without offering specifics.

The 2730p is a Centrino 2 retrofit of the 2710p, but really more than just that. While the old Compaq penchant for innovation has been toned way down under HP, the 2730p remains an exceptionally nicely designed and executed Tablet PC convertible. The jog dial from the old tc1100 is back; it was a good thing and we missed it on the 2710p.

Starting at US$1,670, the 2730p carries a bit of a premium price, but that is usually the case with ultra-portables.

Specifications HP Elitebook 2730p
Added/changed Added: 08/2008
Form-factor Slate convertible
OS Windows Vista Business, or Vista Business with downgrade to Windows XP Tablet Edition custom installed
Processor Low voltage or ultra-low voltage Intel Core 2 Duo SU9300, SL9300, SL9400
CPU Speed 1.20/1.60/1.86GHz
Chipset Mobile Intel GS45 Express
Standard/Max RAM 1GB/8GB 800MHz DDR2 SDRAM
Disk/drive 80/120 GB 5400rpm 1.8-inch SATA or 80GB Solid State Drive
Optical drive None internal; optional SuperMulti DL drive available for HP 2700 Ultra-Slim Expansion Base
Card slots 1 ExpressCard/54 slot, 1 SD
Display type "Illumi-Lite" TFT with LED backlight, sunlight-viewable version available
Display size/res 12.1-inch/1280 x 800 WXGA
Digitizer/pens Active Wacom digitizer/1
Keyboard/scale 95%-scale
Housing Magnesium-alloy chassis, chemically-strengthened glass, HP DuraKeys, HP 3D DriveGuard
Ruggedness MIL-STD-810F tested for dust, altitude, high temperature
Operating temperature -20 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit
Security TPM 1.2, fingerprint sensor, software; optional Smart Card reader
Size (WxHxD) 11.25 x 8.35 x 1.1
Weight 3.75 lbs.
Power Li-Ion, 44 WHr ("up to 4.5 hrs")
Interface 2 USB 2.0, video, audio in/out, RJ11 modem, IEEE1394a, gigabit RJ45, dock, optional integrated 2mp camera
Interface Bluetooth 2.0, 802.11a/b/g/draft-n, optional EV-DO/HSPA
List price Starting at US$1,670
Contact www.hp.com
Direct link Elitebook 2730p
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