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HP ProBook 6360b - Core i5 2410M 2.3GHz - 13.3 review: HP ProBook 6360b - Core i5 2410M 2.3GHz - 13.3

HP ProBook 6360b - Core i5 2410M 2.3GHz - 13.3

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Scott Stein
Scott_Stein.jpg

Scott Stein

Editor at Large

I started with CNET reviewing laptops in 2009. Now I explore wearable tech, VR/AR, tablets, gaming and future/emerging trends in our changing world. Other obsessions include magic, immersive theater, puzzles, board games, cooking, improv and the New York Jets.

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At times, the laptop industry seems like it's in a design standstill compared with the fast-paced worlds of smartphones and tablets. That perception will only be reinforced after some time with the HP ProBook 6360b, as staid a laptop as you're likely to find in 2011.

HP ProBook 6360b - Core i5 2410M 2.3 GHz - 13.3" TFT
7.1

HP ProBook 6360b - Core i5 2410M 2.3GHz - 13.3

The Good

The <b>HP ProBook 6360b</b> has a solid feel, an excellent keyboard, and an up-to-date second-gen Intel Core i5 processor.

The Bad

Boring looks, a bulky design, and business-oriented features make this a laptop your IT department may love, but you probably won't be enthusiastic about.

The Bottom Line

The solid, no-surprises HP ProBook 6360b is a well-priced 13-inch laptop with up-to-date specs, but it's nothing that a consumer couldn't get in a better-looking design somewhere else.

To be fair, the ProBook 6360b probably isn't meant for the typical consumer. ProBooks are Hewlett-Packard's line of business laptops, with a focus on IT-deployable design, enterprise features, and not rocking the boat. We have seen some high-design business laptops, particularly thin 13-inchers, emerge as trendy alternatives to the consumer laptops, but the ProBook 6360b isn't one of those. While well-appointed, this $814 laptop is neither a bargain nor a real looker, and it's one of the thickest 13-inchers we've ever seen.

If your IT department hands you one of these, don't worry: it's a solid laptop. We just wouldn't advise running out and buying one for home use.

Price as reviewed / starting price $814 / $814
Processor 2.3GHz Intel Core i5-2410M
Memory 4GB, 1,333MHz DDR3 RAM
Hard drive 320GB, 7,200rpm
Chipset Intel HM65
Graphics Intel HD 3000
Operating system Windows 7 Professional (64-bit)
Dimensions (WD) 12.7x8.7 inches
Height 1.3 inches
Screen size (diagonal) 13.3 inches
System weight / Weight with AC adapter 4.7 pounds/5.6 pounds
Category Midsize

Squared-off, darkly bronzed, and thick like an office chair, the HP ProBook 6360b is the plain blue blazer of laptops. It's timeless, but not in a way you'd be proud of. Open it up in a coffee shop, and you'll instantly be seen as someone who took your business laptop for a walk. At least laptops like the business-targeted Toshiba Portege R835 and Lenovo ThinkPad Edge series have some show-off appeal. Not so here.

The bead-blasted aluminum lid and keyboard deck, in their tungsten color scheme, are minimalist and clean-cut, but the formality of the whole design just leans too far into business mode for our tastes. The chassis is magnesium-reinforced and feels very solid, but the bottom of the laptop has a pebbled plastic feel. The throwback locking lid clasp gave us fits when we kept trying to instinctively lift the lid, only to be thwarted. Some features are best left off modern laptops.

Why is the HP ProBook 6360b so thick? Part of the reason may be the built-in drainage, which should protect against minor spills (we hesitated to test this feature too much, lest we short out our review unit), and partly the large battery, we imagine. Still, at 1.3 inches thick, it's chunkier than we'd prefer. The 4.7-pound weight of the 6360b, not counting the AC adapter, is pretty standard for this size range, but this laptop just comes off as incredibly thick to nearly anyone we've shown it to.

At this point, you might be wondering what the advantage of a "pro" laptop is over a standard "consumer" laptop. Really, from a consumer point of view, there is none. For business users, of course, it's helpful that laptops like the ProBook feature extra security software and features convenient for IT deployment (such as a TPM chip and Intel's vPro platform), not to mention a design that interfaces easily with existing HP hardware (the dock connector on the bottom, for instance).

Also, the ergonomic experience is solid. An inset island keyboard has the same smooth response we've liked in HP's business laptops, and the raised, slightly concave keys emulate some of the feel of a ThinkPad Edge. Typing feels crisp and flex-free. A wide touch pad below offers a fair amount of finger space, with two large raised discrete buttons underneath.

Three dedicated buttons above the keyboard activate Wi-Fi on/off, a Web launcher, and audio mute. It's a random trio of functions, but not without some use. When the system is shut down, the Web button launches HP QuickWeb, which is a fast-launch OS environment with its own browser and widgets. It definitely launches more quickly than Windows, but it's far more limited. Weather and stock data, a calculator, and other applications are offered along with the browser, but most business users would be more likely to use their smartphones for such information. A fingerprint reader below the right side of the palm rest can be used for security as well as custom-launching different applications per finger.

The 16:9, 13-inch, 1,366x768-pixel display has a matte antiglare coating that does wonders for visibility in different lighting conditions. The screen is also readable from a fair range of viewing angles, but it's not an IPS screen, and doesn't come close to that range of 180-degree crispness. Text pops well on the screen, and videos look sharp. Stereo speakers at the front of the palm rest carry decent volume but sound a little washed out to us; audiophiles may want to wait for one of the just-announced HP ProBooks with built-in Beats audio.

A 1,280x720-pixel HD Webcam has better-than-average light sensitivity and picture quality, plus added resolution for wider-screen video chat. Many consumer laptops are still stuck with 640x480-pixel Webcams, although the landscape is quickly changing to HD.

HP ProBook 6360b Average for category [mainstream]
Video VGA, DisplayPort VGA plus HDMI or DisplayPort
Audio Stereo speakers, headphone/microphone jacks Stereo speakers, headphone/microphone jacks
Data 2 USB 2.0, 1 USB 2.0/eSATA combo port, SD card slot, mini-FireWire 3 USB 2.0, SD card reader
Expansion ExpressCard/54 None
Networking Ethernet, 802.11n Wi-Fi, Ethernet, 802.11n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, optional mobile broadband
Optical drive DVD burner DVD burner

Part of the problem consumers face when adopting a business laptop such as the ProBook 6360b is being stuck with features and ports that aren't relevant to their needs. Instead of HDMI-out, the ProBook 6360b has a DisplayPort. It has an eSATA port, FireWire, and even a rare ExpressCard slot, but no USB 3.0 or Bluetooth (on the reviewed configuration, although it's available as an option). At this point, it might make more sense for all laptops to carry similar ports, but that problem's not going to be solved anytime soon.

The 4GB of RAM included in the ProBook 6360b is increasingly standard on mainstream Windows laptops, but the 320GB hard drive, albeit at 7,200rpm, feels a little small for the price now that we've become used to seeing 500GB.

The 2.3GHz second-generation Intel Core i5-2410M processor inside this ProBook is fast becoming the default processor in midrange mainstream laptops. We've seen it in an increasing number of models as of late. It's a very good processor: programs run fast and multitasking is a breeze. It does mean that, yes, we've seen laptops that run about as fast as the HP ProBook 6360b before, and we'll see them again. It provides a great computing experience for most people, and for any business laptop we'd feel the same. HP offers Core i3 and i7 options on its business computer portal, but the i5 feels like the best middle ground to us.

Multimedia multitasking test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)

Adobe Photoshop CS3 image-processing test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)

Apple iTunes encoding test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)

There isn't a dedicated graphics card inside this ProBook, only Intel HD 3000 integrated graphics. As we've noted before, those are enough for work such as video editing and some low-to-midrange graphics-based work, but those in need of serious rendering horsepower will need to obviously look elsewhere. Still, we were able to play the long-in-the-tooth Unreal Tournament III benchmark at a very playable 59.7 frames per second at 1,366x768-pixel native resolution with graphics settings at medium.

Juice box
HP ProBook 6360b Average watts per hour
Off (60%) 0.46
Sleep (10%) 0.56
Idle (25%) 8.38
Load (05%) 40.83
Raw kWh number 39.14
Annual power consumption cost $4.44

The six-cell battery included in our configuration of the HP ProBook 6360b netted us a rock-solid 6 hours and 7 minutes of continuous video playback in CNET's video playback battery-drain test. That's excellent, but not quite as good as far thinner laptops such as the Toshiba Portege R835, which lasted 7 hours. For a laptop this thick, you'd expect an even more robust battery.

Video playback battery-drain test (in minutes)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)

Find out more about how we test Windows laptops.

HP includes an industry-standard one-year parts and labor warranty with the system. Support is accessible through a 24-7 toll-free phone line and an online knowledge base and driver downloads. That would be fine for a consumer notebook, but the industry standard for business laptops used to be three years, and we've seen some PC makers cutting that down to one year and charging for a longer term as a way to keep starting prices low.

System configurations:

HP ProBook 6360b
Windows 7 Professional (64-bit); 2.3GHz Intel Core i5-2410M; 4,096MB DDR3 SDRAM 1,333MHz; 64MB (Dedicated)/1,696MB (Total) Intel GMA HD; 320GB Hitachi 7,200rpm

Toshiba Portege R835-P56X
Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit); 2.3GHz Intel Core i5-2410M; 4,096MB DDR3 SDRAM 1,333MHz; 64MB (Dedicated)/1,696MB (Total) Intel GMA HD; 640GB Hitachi 5,400rpm

Lenovo ThinkPad Edge E420s
Windows 7 Professional (64-bit); 2.3GHz Intel Core i5-2410M; 4,096MB DDR3 SDRAM 1,333MHz; 64MB (Dedicated)/1,696MB (Total) Intel GMA HD; 320GB Seagate 7,200rpm

Asus U31Jg-A1
Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit); 2.53GHz Intel Core i3 380M; 4,096MB DDR3 SDRAM 1,066MHz; 1GB Nvidia GeForce GT 415M + 64MB (Dedicated) Intel GMA HD; 500GB Seagate 5,400rpm

Apple MacBook Pro - Core i5 Sandy Bridge 13.3-inch - 2.3GHz
OS X 10.6.6 Snow Leopard; 2.3GHz Intel Core i5; 4,096MB DDR3 SDRAM 1,333MHz; 384MB (Shared) Intel HD 3000; 320GB Hitachi 5,400rpm

HP ProBook 6360b - Core i5 2410M 2.3 GHz - 13.3" TFT
7.1

HP ProBook 6360b - Core i5 2410M 2.3GHz - 13.3

Score Breakdown

Design 6Features 7Performance 8Battery 8Support 7