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HP Compaq 2510p review: HP Compaq 2510p

HP's no-nonsense ultraportable scores for its solid construction and some biz-friendly features, but the Compaq 2510p costs just as much as the flashy, consumer-oriented competition. Choose this ultraportable only if security concerns and IT manageability are paramount.

Dan Ackerman Editorial Director / Computers and Gaming
Dan Ackerman leads CNET's coverage of computers and gaming hardware. A New York native and former radio DJ, he's also a regular TV talking head and the author of "The Tetris Effect" (Hachette/PublicAffairs), a non-fiction gaming and business history book that has earned rave reviews from the New York Times, Fortune, LA Review of Books, and many other publications. "Upends the standard Silicon Valley, Steve Jobs/Mark Zuckerberg technology-creation myth... the story shines." -- The New York Times
Expertise I've been testing and reviewing computer and gaming hardware for over 20 years, covering every console launch since the Dreamcast and every MacBook...ever. Credentials
  • Author of the award-winning, NY Times-reviewed nonfiction book The Tetris Effect; Longtime consumer technology expert for CBS Mornings
Dan Ackerman
7 min read
HP Compaq 2510p

Editor's note: We listed an incorrect battery life score when this review first published. The battery life information has been corrected, and the rating adjusted to reflect this change. We regret the error (8/14/07).


HP Compaq 2510p

The Good

Tank-like construction; excellent touch pad; includes integrated WWAN; supports Intel's Active Management technology.

The Bad

Bigger and bulkier than other recent high-end ultraportables, but just as expensive.

The Bottom Line

HP's no-nonsense ultraportable laptop scores for its solid construction and some biz-friendly features, but the Compaq 2510p costs just as much as the flashy, consumer-oriented competition. Choose this ultraportable only if security concerns and IT manageability are paramount.

Fans of ultraportable laptops have had a lot of products to be excited about in recent months, with two excellent models in particular standing out--the Toshiba Portege R500 and the Sony VAIO TZ150. Those are flashy consumer systems, designed to be thin, light, and eye-catching, but with high-end prices to match ($2,000 and up). HP offers a more business-oriented answer to these systems in the HP Compaq 2510p, which boasts similar stats but a more button-down design along with some corporate extras.

Basic models start around $1,500, but our review unit cost $2,478, or about as much as the Portege R500 or the VAIO TZ150. Business features on the HP Compaq 2510p not found on the Toshiba or Sony units include hard-drive encryption and Intel's Active Management Technology (or AMT), which allows for remote IT management even when the laptop is powered off. We found using the solidly built 2510p a genuinely enjoyable experience and though you can't put a price on security (or maybe it costs $2,500), those looking for an ultraportable at a lower price should check out the Averatec 1579, which lacks the corporate-friendly features but costs only $1,299.

Price as reviewed/starting price $2,478/$1,549
Processor 1.2GHz Intel Core 2 Duo Ultra Low Voltage U7600
Memory 2GB of 533MHz DDR2
Hard drive 80GB at 4,200rpm
Graphics Intel 965
Chipset Mobile Intel 965GM Express Chipset
Operating system Windows Vista Business
Dimensions (LWH) 11.1x8.4x1.2 inches
Screen size (diagonal) 12.1 inches
System weight/weight with AC adapter 3.4/4.4 pounds
Category Ultraportable

Compared to the impossibly slim body of the Sony VAIO TZ150, which measures less than an inch thick, the HP Compaq 2510p looks almost boxy. In truth, the HP's 1.2-inch thick frame is still very easy to carry around, although at 3.4 pounds, it's markedly heavier than other recent ultraportables that come in under the 3-pound mark, such as the VAIO TX150 and Toshiba's R500. On the plus side, it feels much sturdier than either the R500 or TZ150, and the HP's keyboard and lid are both extremely inflexible, good points for frequent travelers to keep in mind.

Besides a solid keyboard, the touch pad on the HP Compaq 2510p is also noteworthy. While a bit on the small side, like most ultraportables, the touch pad has a finger-wide discrete scroll zone marked off. This highly responsive bar is much easier to use than the invisible scroll zone found on most laptops, where we just end up running our finger along the right edge of the touch pad trying to find it (or else randomly accidentally scrolling when we just want to click on something).

You won't find a Webcam or media control buttons on the 2510p, but you do get a fingerprint reader, plus more of the touch-sensitive buttons we like so much. Besides a volume scroll bar, tiny buttons along the top of the keyboard tray can launch a display utility for routing your signal to external display (useful when showing off PowerPoint presentations), control the Wi-Fi antenna, and bring up a window with all the built-in security programs in one place.

These programs include HP's ProtectTools, which can encrypt a hard drive so that data on the drive can't be read unless an authorized user is logged in. That way, even if the laptop is stolen and the drive removed, sensitive information remains safe.

Despite the LED backlit display, dubbed Illumi-Lite by HP, the screen is not nearly as thin as those in the Sony and Toshiba ultraportables. Its native resolution of 1,280x800 is standard for a 12-inch wide-screen display, and you should have no problem reading text and seeing icons. As do most business laptops, it has a matte screen finish, as opposed to the glossy and bright but glare-prone screens found on many consumer systems.

  HP Compaq 2510p Average for ultraportable category
Video VGA-out VGA-out
Audio Headphone/microphone jacks Headphone/microphone jacks
Data Two USB 2.0 ports, a mini-FireWire, and an SD card reader Two USB 2.0 ports, a mini-FireWire, and an SD or multiformat memory card reader
Expansion Type I/II PC Card slot Type I/II PC Card or ExpressCard slot
Networking Modem, Ethernet, 802.11 a/b/g Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, WWAN Modem, Ethernet, 802.11 a/b/g Wi-Fi, optional Bluetooth, optional WWAN
Optical drive DVD burner DVD burner or none

The ports and connections on the HP Compaq 2510p are in line with what we'd expect from an ultraportable, and it includes support for 802.11n Wi-Fi technology, aka Draft N, although on HP's Web site, we can't tell which configurations include this, as they all just list the older, but still prevalent, 802.11g standard (which is what you'll find at almost every Wi-Fi hot spot). Mobile broadband is quickly becoming a must-have, and you have a choice between AT&T and Verizon (our review unit had the latter).

While we love mobile broadband, you can actually save a significant amount by skipping it and choosing one of HP's other preconfigured builds of the 2510p. An identically configured system, minus the mobile broadband antenna, is only $2,228 on HP's Web site. By dropping the RAM down to 1GB and the CPU to a slightly slower Core 2 Duo U7500, and opting for a smaller 60GB hard drive and no Bluetooth, you can get the price down to $1,549, although we generally suggest sticking with 2GB of RAM for Windows Vista.

Compared to other recent ultraportables, nearly all of which use CPUs from the same Intel ultralow-voltage family, the HP Compaq 2510p performed on par, with the exception of the Sony VAIO TZ150, whose collection of resource-hogging bloatware led to generally lagging scores. Surprisingly, the Averatec 2371, a sub-$1000 ultraportable powered by a 1.6GHz AMD Turion 64 X2 TL-52, easily matched or outclassed ultraportables costing nearly three times as much. Although the Averatec's poor battery life, when compared with the ULV Intel systems, shows that the AMD laptop may not have been playing on equal footing.

While the company sells the HP Compaq 2510p with a nine-cell battery, our review unit arrived with two batteries, a three-cell and a six-cell unit, which it offers on other 2510p configurations but not on the model we reviewed. We tested both batteries. Like the nine-cell battery, the six-cell battery extends beyond the end of the system, but ran for an impressive 3 hours, 24 minutes on our demanding DVD battery drain test. You can expect even longer life under typical usage scenarios. We attribute the long battery life chiefly to the Compaq 2510p using an ultralow-voltage Intel CPU. Competing ultraportables from Sony and Toshiba with similar or identical ultralow-voltage Intel processors ran longer, but we believe most users will be content with the 2510p's battery life, particularly since you can safely assume the standard nine-cell battery will run even longer. The three-cell battery that's available on other 2510p models sits flush with the back of the system and ran for 1 hour, 38 minutes, or roughly half the time the six-cell battery lasted.

HP includes a decent, three-year parts-and-labor warranty with the system, although the battery is only covered for the first year. Support is accessible through a 24-7 toll-free phone line, an HP has a robust online knowledge base and collection of driver downloads, especially for their business systems.

Find out more about how we test laptops.

Multimedia multitasking test
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
In seconds  
HP Compaq 2510p

Adobe Photoshop CS3 image-processing test
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
In seconds  
HP Compaq 2510p

Apple iTunes encoding test
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
In seconds  
HP Compaq 2510p

DVD battery drain test
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
In minutes  
HP Compaq 2510p
System configurations:

Averatec 1579
Windows Vista Home Premium; 1.06GHz Intel Core Duo Ultra Low Voltage U2400; 1,024MB DDR2 SDRAM 667MHz; 256MB Intel Mobile Express 945GM; 120GB Fujitsu 5,400rpm

Averatec 2371
Windows Vista Home Premium; 1.6GHz AMD Turion 64 X2 TL-52; 1,024MB DDR SDRAM 667MHz; 64MB Nvidia GeForce Go 6100; 120GB Fujitsu 5,400rpm

HP Compaq 2510p
Windows Vista Business; 1.2GHz Intel Core Duo Ultra Low Voltage U7600; 2,048MB DDR2 SDRAM 533MHz; 128MB Mobile Intel 965GM Express; 80GB Toshiba 4,200rpm

Sony VAIO TZ150N/B
Windows Vista Business; 1.06GHz Intel Core 2 Duo Ultra Low Voltage U7500; 1024MB DDR2 SDRAM 533MHz; 64MB Mobile Intel 945GM Express; 100GB Toshiba 4,200rpm

Toshiba Portege R500-S5002
Windows Vista Business; 1.2GHz Intel Core 2 Duo Ultra Low Voltage U7600; 1024MB DDR2 SDRAM 533MHz; 128MB Mobile Intel 945GM Express; 120GB Toshiba 5,400rpm


HP Compaq 2510p

Score Breakdown

Design 8Features 7Performance 7Battery 7Support 7