HP's EliteBook 6930p comes in a huge number of models -- no fewer than 19 were listed on the company's Web site at the time of writing. Prices start at around £1,050, rising to £1,800 for a high-spec model including an 80GB solid-state hard drive.
Our review sample, the £1,160 GB928ET model, is at the lower end of the price range and is a solidly built 14.1-inch 'thin and light' laptop designed for mobile professionals who don't mind carrying a slightly heavier system than your average ultra-portable.
The 6930p's silver and black livery can be charitably described as 'business bland'. However, a functional design and good build quality are more important than pure aesthetics in a business laptop, and here the 6930p scores well.
It's a very well-built machine, weighing 2.1kg, which just takes it out of the sub-2kg ultra-portable category. The trade-off for the extra weight is increased durability: the screen, for example, is among the more rigid we've seen, and the system unit is also sturdy.
If you do end up carrying this laptop regularly, you may be grateful for the solid clasp that holds the clamshell closed in your bag.
The 6930p measures 33.1cm by 24.3cm by 3.1cm. It's not exactly small, but then it does accommodate a 14.1-inch screen.
The screen -- in our review sample at least -- is slightly disappointing. The viewing angles are good, and the screen itself is readable, with a matte finish that allows you to work in all kinds of indoor lighting conditions. The disappointment is the screen resolution, which, at just 1,280x800 pixels, is not as high as we'd like. Several models in the 6930p range have 1,440x900-pixel displays, which we'd much prefer.
The 6930p has plenty of plus points, though. The keyboard is large but still has space for a row of full-sized number keys and a row of slightly smaller Fn keys above that. It's also reassuringly rigid, with absolutely no flex, and the keys give good feedback. Typing at speed is a pleasurable experience.
There is room for a vertical column of keys to the right of the main keyboard that contains the Home, PgUp, PgDn and End keys. Beneath these is an inverted-T arrangement of cursor control keys.
HP includes both a touchpad and a pointing stick. The touchpad includes vertical but not horizontal scrolling capability and has two fairly large and responsive mouse buttons beneath it. The touchpad is recessed a couple of millimetres, which we found a little irritating -- it's too easy to hit the rim with a fingertip.
The pointing stick sits in its customary location between the G, H and B keys. The stick is only slightly raised, but its dimpled finish and concave shape makes it easy and comfortable to use. A second pair of mouse buttons sits beneath the spacebar.
There's a fingerprint scanner in the bottom right corner of the wrist rest, while above the keyboard is a range of touch-sensitive controls. On the far right is a volume slider, with a mute button to its left. All three normally have a light-blue backlight, although the mute button's backlight turns red in silent mode.
Further to the left are three more controls: one calls up HP's 'Presentation Settings' screen, which allows you to switch quickly to presets for display settings and to run any application you designate. The second calls up the 'HP Info Center', a centralised location for user guides, software management, security tools, hard-drive shock protection and other similar features. We'd prefer this to link into more system-management features, though. The third button is an on/off toggle for the Wi-Fi and Bluetooth radios. This glows deep blue when wireless is on, and red when wireless is off.
Some models in the 6930p range have an integrated webcam, but our review sample does not. It does have a keyboard light, which is activated by pressing a button that pops a light out from a casing. This sheds enough illumination to let you work comfortably on a aeroplane, or in similarly dimly lit conditions.
The 6930p GB982ET has a 2.53GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T9400 processor. It comes with 2GB of RAM, expandable to a maximum of 8GB. The graphics are handled by the Intel GMA 4500MHD module integrated in the Intel GM45 Express chipset.
The operating system in our review sample is Windows Vista Business; HP will also configure this laptop with Windows Vista Enterprise or Suse Linux Enterprise Desktop 10.
Our review sample has a 160GB hard drive spinning at 5,400rpm. Options in the various models run to a 250GB hard drive and, in the most expensive option, an 80GB solid-state drive. A LightScribe-compliant optical drive sits on the right side of the casing.
Wireless connectivity includes Bluetooth and Wi-Fi (802.11a/b/g, Draft-N), while, for the wired, there's Gigabit Ethernet and a 56Kbps modem. Mobile broadband is not supported in the GB982ET model -- in fact, it's only available in one model (the £1,400 NN188EA) out of 19. The SIM slot, underneath the battery, is clearly marked, and some users could be erroneously lulled into supposing that mobile broadband is present.