söndag 16 juni 2013

Review: HP Probook 4540s

After 3+ years of use, it really felt like my HP Probook 4510s was moribund. The DVD burner had long since stopped reading discs, let alone burning them. Out of a total of four USB 2 ports, only two remained that still gave me USB 2 performance. One had stopped working altogether, the fourth limped along at USB 1.1 speeds, which meant that it could handle my little Logitech mouse and nothing else. It was clearly time to invest in a new computer. Maybe I could do so before the old one packed it in altogether, maybe there is such a thing as a smooth transition even in the computer world.

Truth be told, I wasn't entirely pleased with the 4510s. Even on the very first day, it evinced a very annoying BIOS error where the network port could cold-start the computer all on its own. The only way to turn the bloody thing off was to disconnect the RJ45 cable, otherwise shutting down Windows and rebooting the computer was one and the same to the machine. Then, I had a series of run-ins with the touchpad. Anything you happened to touch it with more than one finger, the controlling software would crash in spectacular fashion.

But I reasoned that lightning couldn't conceivably strike twice in the same place, and other than those two annoyances and the natural age-related maladies, I was actually pleased enough with my HP that I decided they deserved a second chance.


I didn't catch it during the first few nights with the computer because I was too busy getting all the Windows 7 updates and all my software to run. But when I got down to the nitty-gritty and actually started using the computer, I discovered that something was dreadfully wrong with the keyboard. The first annoyance was a D key that required some persuasion before providing me with its letter. Then, when selecting large amounts of text by way of the Shift and PageDown shortcut, I discovered that there were serious connectivity problems beneath the keys. Selecting text was a decidedly haphazard process. There was simply no way of knowing if the next press of the PageDown button would yield a PageDown or the letter L. (By the way, typing when text is selected replaces that text - not always the desired effect when you're selecting large chunks of text for cutting and pasting.) After two days, this become irritating enough that I contacted the dealer, and after a call to the HP support center, they declared the machine dead on arrival.

The dealer offered me a slightly better machine as a replacement, but I declined. Apparently, I had bought the dealer's very last HP machine with Windows 7, and there is just no way I'm going to buy into Windows 8. So I asked for a refund, which I got in due course. But not after abandoning HP to go for a new brand. I'm sorry, but after hardware problems with two straight computers in the same range, I tend to stay away - and recommend others to do the same!

It is a shame, because the HP Probook 4540s is a stylish computer that in my opinion obliterates the old pro-Mac argument that PC:s somehow "lack design". Had the keyboard worked, it would have been a really comfortable one, and it was really well-speced for the price - once again proving that last year's model is the best deal in electronics.

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