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Do we really need sexed-up business laptops?

We take a look at the HP ProBook 5330m and wonder about the strange laptop subset we call "business sexy."

HP ProBook 5330m: Attractive, or just another business laptop?
HP ProBook 5330m: Attractive, or just another business laptop? CNET

We've seen a number of redesigned business laptops lately. "Not your father's business laptop." "A business laptop for the cooler set." Whatever you want to call them, these notebooks are defined by thin profiles, sleek bodies, and features more often seen on "consumer" laptops. In other words, they're trying to be business laptops in disguise.

The ThinkPad X1 and ThinkPad Edge E220s. The Dell Vostro V130. The HP ProBook 5330m. All of them are, in their own way, worth considering for nonbusiness users.

Why, then, call them business laptops?

Related links
• HP ProBook 5330m review
• Lenovo ThinkPad X1 review
• Toshiba Portege R835 review
• Lenovo ThinkPad Edge E220s review
• Dell Vostro V130 review

Apple has been the bold bull in the china shop by not offering a single laptop designated as "business." The all-metal MacBooks do get designated as "Pros," but they're sold as laptops for everyone. iPads don't come in business and personal versions, either.

Many computer manufacturers on the Windows side, however, opt for a separate and often-confusing business line of products. Latitudes. ProBooks. ThinkPads. Porteges. These lines can offer some business-targeted features such as vPro, as well as security measures like fingerprint scanners or office-friendly dock connectors.

Still, why not offer a single set of laptops, with some models earmarked for optional business-level feature upgrades? (UPDATE: Actually, Toshiba's Portege line does do that, offering both consumer and business versions. However, to a casual consumer, the differences aren't always clear.) We understand what companies like HP and Dell are doing--after all, they have lots of business with big companies that require IT-deployable solutions, and those companies purchase in different ways than consumers do. Still, if businesses are asking for cooler laptops--as many laptop manufacturers claim they are--why not make Inspirons, XPSes, IdeaPads, and Pavilions with business-level feature sets?

Making more-desirable laptops such as the ProBook 5330m and ThinkPad X1 only confuses the issue more. If these laptops are sexy enough for regular people to want to buy them, then they should be made available via normal retail channels. The Toshiba Portege R835 is in fact available via normal retail, representing exactly the sort of thing we're wishing for.

In case you're curious about what a sexed-up business laptop has to offer, read our review of the HP ProBook 5330m. Or, read our reviews of other similar laptops above.

What do you think? Does your business laptop need an upgrade, or are you confused by the business laptop industry, too?