HP EliteBook 2540p: Rugged, Ultraportable Notebook for Travelers

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With the price of netbooks plummeting well below the $300 USD mark, the laptop market has opened up for so-called “ultraportable notebooks”. They’re like standard laptops, but more portable; like netbooks but with larger screens and substantially more processing power. For my money, they’re the perfect compromise for gearhead travelers, particularly those with a penchant for travel photography or a need to run Photoshop and the like while on the road.

There are three things almost every modern traveler demands of their laptop: superb battery life, sufficient processing power, and it needs to be rugged enough to handle everyday life on the road. Enter HP’s EliteBook line which claims to satisfy all three of these needs in spades.

The Skinny

Here’s HP’s overview of the EliteBook series:

Stay connected and productive on the go””without getting weighed down. Starting at just 3.38 lb, the durable HP EliteBook 2540p is HP’s smallest and lightest EliteBook, designed for maximum portability and uncompromised performance.

… and a quick rundown of the most important features:


  • Compact, lightweight design with a 12.1-inch diagonal LED display starts at only 3.38 lb
  • Extensive wireless connectivity options””HP Mobile Broadband (customer upgradeable), Wi-Fi CERTIFIEDâ„¢ WLAN and Bluetooth®

Business-rugged construction:

  • Meets tough military standards (MIL-STD 810G) for vibration, dust, humidity, altitude and extreme temperatures
  • The full-size, spill-resistant keyboard with drains protects the system board from minor spills, while HP DuraKeys keep your keyboard looking newer, longer
  • Travel confidently with the magnesium-alloy casing, hardened-steel pin axels and scratch-resistant HP DuraFinish
  • Automatically protect hard-drive data from drops and sudden impact with HP 3D DriveGuard

Security and convenience:

  • Centrally manage security policy with the latest HP ProtectTools mobile PC security infrastructure solution. The HP EliteBook 2540p also includes optional vPro out of band management.
  • Access e-mail, calendars, contacts and websites without waiting to boot up using HP QuickLook 3 and HP QuickWeb

In Detail

HP was kind enough to send us a sample of their EliteBook 2540p for review. If you’re keeping track at home, our sample features the Intel Core i7 processor and 4GB of DDR3 RAM, running 64-bit Windows 7 OS.

We spent the last few weeks taking a look under the hood and putting it through its paces. Here’s what we found:


At first blush, there’s much to like about the EliteBook’s design, which is best described as “corporate minimalist”. The exterior is sleek and no-nonsense with an air of being “all business”. The full-size keyboard and black-meets-silver color scheme provide an overall polished look and feel.

One unique functional touch is the addition of a small, pop-out task light built in to the bezel above the monitor. It takes the place of a backlit keyboard and is surprisingly handy in low-light situations.


The big win for travelers is the EliteBook’s aircraft-inspired construction. The aforementioned magnesium/aluminum alloy exterior means this things is tough. Extremely tough. It’s purpose built with resistance to general wear, spills, vibration, temperature, dust, drops, and scratching. While we didn’t actually throw our review sample in the microwave or take it scuba diving, HP backs up its claims with a pretty strong warranty should any of these become an issue.

Battery Life

“Yeah, yeah, yeah … but how long will it run for?” you’re asking. Bottom line: the EliteBook 2540p will stay juiced for 12.5 hours on the optional 9-cell battery. Yes, really. That’s almost the entire length of an LA-to-Sydney flight. Or 4-5 viewings of Inception, if you like.


The EliteBook series is available in a variety of hardware configurations. Even the lowest priced model, with an Intel® Core™ i5-540M Processor and 2GB of DDR3 RAM will be more than enough for most modern travelers. We found our review sample more than up to the task to run Adobe CS5 without missing a beat.

QuickLook/QuickWeb: No Need to Boot Up

One miscellaneous, but noteworthy feature is HP’s inclusion of QuickLook and QuickWeb functionality. The former provides access to e-mail, contact, calendar and task information without actually booting the PC into Windows; while the latter grants near-instant access to the web. Both are fantastic features for travelers who need quick access to ticket information, confirmation numbers, etc. in a pinch.

Pricing & Availability

Available now, starting at $1,099 from HP.com and Amazon.com.

Bottom Line

The EliteBook 2540p is not a “budget” laptop and it’s not pretending to be. But you get what you pay for. If you’re a frequent traveler in the market for a laptop that is ultraportable, fast, and extremely rugged, you’re likely willing to pay a premium. For my money, the EliteBook 2540p is a solid choice. Recommended.

Founding Editor
  1. Whoa, I was actually JUST looking at one of these on Newegg the other day.

    I never thought I could get a machine that would be powerful and withstand trekking. Then, we went to Cambodia with HP’s netbook that is constructed very similar. Totally changed my mind, and motivated me – an Atom @ 1.6Ghz is not the best choice for video rendering. :-D

    HP, if you’re reading, I would gladly accept a review elitebook and put it through a nice battery of tests. :-D

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