HP 4510s

HP4510sPros: Great keyboard design, inviting finish

Cons: Lightscribe needs work

If there were only one reason to buy the HP 4510 series it would be the typing experience. With a full extended keyboard, it takes a keyboard layout approach we’ve seen far too rarely. Each key is only a few millimetres above the chassis and needs only the slightest touch, and a small gutter between each key cuts down errant keystrokes dramatically. It’s set against a glossy black finish that contrasts with the matt surface of the rest of the machine and makes it tactile and inviting to use.

With a 2.1GHz Core 2 Duo and 2GB of RAM it’s a perfectly adequate office or personal machine, and with a 512Mb dedicated ATI Raedeon HD4330 it powers through graphics-hungry games with nary a hitch.

Read into multiple system bundling what you will now Windows 7 is about to descend, but the 4510 comes pre-installed with XP Pro and includes the Vista Business install as well. It’s a nice value add for geeks who do actually know how to install new systems and will save money if you want to play with both.

You don’t see a lot of non-gloss screens today but HP appears to have taken complaints about blinding reflections to heart and added one. Even on the smaller model of the range (15 versus 17′) it’s expansive enough to enjoy all your media and HP’s been smart enough to include a decent speaker system to capitalise on it.

We were excited to try Lightscribe, which lets you etch onto the surface of a disc by putting it face down in the drive tray. Bringing in an imported background graphics was a dismal failure but a subsequent attempt with a template and a bit of text worked (despite looking very cheesy). Hopefully it’ll get better as they stitch the software — from Roxio, in this case — to the hardware a bit better.

A raft of connectivity ports including HDMI means the 4510 can be the hub of media operations in your lounge or boardroom, and standard features like the integrated webcam are all present.