We always have to chuckle when laptop makers talk about making business systems look more palatable to the employees toting ‘em. After all, it’s not like we’re going to walk off the job because we don’t like the looks of that black box we’ve been assigned. Or are we? Nonetheless, laptop manufacturers are going out of their way to make their corporate systems look (and perform) more in line with their sexier consumer cousins. Take the Lenovo ThinkPad X1, for instance, a slimmed-down version of the company’s signature design — updated with a buttonless touchpad, Dolby sound, and a much-maligned glossy display. Toshiba, meanwhile, recently revamped its line of business notebooks to look like the lightweight Portege R705 — also a crossover hit.
Which brings us to the HP ProBook 5330m. This 13.3-incher has a metal-clad body and Beats Audio — a first on an HP business machine, but a staple across its consumer stable. And yet, the company’s wooing the IT guys, too, with a matte display, optional prepaid mobile broadband, Intel vPro technology, and TPM circuitry. With a starting price of $799, it scores big points for value, but can it hang? Let’s find out.