HP ProBook 6550b business notebook

An HP business notebook that's packed with features, performs well and is comfortable to use

  • Review
  • Specs
  • Images
  • User Reviews (3)
  • Buy Now 2
HP ProBook 6550b
  • HP ProBook 6550b
  • HP ProBook 6550b
  • HP ProBook 6550b
  • Expert Rating

    3.75 / 5
  • User Rating

    2.50 / 5 (of 3 Reviews)

Pros

  • Good mix of old and new connectivity, sturdy build quality, good performance

Cons

  • Slightly 'sticky' touchpad, 32-bit version of Windows 7, touch-sensitive buttons are slow and sometimes unreliable

Bottom Line

If you're a business user that absolutely must have as many connectivity features built into a notebook as possible, then HP's ProBook 6550b is worth looking into. Not only do you get modern facilities such as eSATA and DisplayPort, you also get ageless wonders such as a 56Kbps modem and a serial port. Its Core i5-540M CPU gives it good speed and its keyboard is crisp and comfortable to type on. Overall, a very good business laptop.

Would you buy this?

  • Buy now (Selling at 2 stores)

  • Oz Genuine Original Hp Battery For Probook 6550b 64.50
  • Ac Adapter For Hp Probook 6550b 120w Power Supp... 69.97
See all prices

The HP ProBook 6550b is a 2.6kg, 15.6in notebook designed for business users who want something solidly built and fully featured. It has everything from a built-in DVD burner to a FireWire port, and you even get a 56Kbps modem and a serial port, which are components from an era when terms such as 'BBS' and 'IRQ conflict' were in everyday use. It's this mix of old and new components that makes the ProBook 6550b desirable as a tool for professionals who need a laptop for more than just browsing the Web and updating an iPod.

Design and usability

The ProBook is designed to be an affordable business notebook that doesn't compromise on features and build quality, and it delivers on both of these fronts. Similar to the ProBook 6540b, a sturdy design is what's immediately noticeable when you start handling the ProBook 6550b: it has metal hinges, the base feels solid when you pick it up from either corner, the lid can take a fair bit of force before puddling appears on the screen and the keyboard has keys that are crisp and perfect for long sessions of typing.

The keyboard also includes a number pad. Just above the keyboard is a row of touch-sensitive buttons that can be used to manipulate the volume, launch your e-mail and Web browser applications, as well as disable Wi-Fi. We're not a fan of these buttons; not only are they too bright (the LEDs on most HP notebooks seem to be too strong) but they are also a little sluggish. Volume changes, in particular, take a couple of seconds before you can see the effect via an on-screen indicator. The response of the touch buttons is also not reliable and sometimes you have to press a button more than once to activate its function.

One thing we wish this ProBook had is a screen-mounted light that could shine down onto the keyboard, similar to what HP's EliteBook 8440p has. Another thing that's missing is a dual-pointing device, but there is an option to add one so that can use both a touchpad and a 'pointing stick' to move the pointer around the screen. We did find the touchpad to sometimes be 'sticky'. The screen itself uses LED backlighting and is reasonably bright. It has a native resolution of 1366x768, but an optional 1600x900 panel is also available.

Configuration and performance

Multiple configurations of the ProBook 6550b are available, but the one we reviewed used an Intel Core i5-540M CPU running at 2.53GHz; an integrated Intel HD graphics adapter; a 7200rpm, 320GB hard drive; and 4GB of DDR3SDRAM, around 1GB of which was used by the graphics adapter. The notebook ran the 32-bit version of Windows 7, so an update to the 64-bit version will be required if you want to install more RAM (the laptop supports up to 8GB). In our tests, this configuration performed very well. It can be used to run office applications and multimedia tasks with ease. Its real-time 3D rendering performance isn't great, but you could run World of Warcraft or StarCraft 2 if you wanted to.

In 3DMark06, the ProBook 6550b recorded a score of 1750, which is around what we were expecting. Our Blender 3D and iTunes MP3 encoding tests averaged times of 53sec and 59sec, respectively, which is a couple of seconds faster than what Dell's similarly configured Studio 17 laptop recorded in the same tests. Transcoding a DVD file to a 1.5GB Xvid file using AutoGordianKnot took 1hr 6min, which is what we expected. In our hard drive transfer tests, the 7200rpm hard drive averaged a result of 27.17 megabytes per second (MBps), which is around 4MBps slower than what the Probook 6540b achieved with its 250GB drive; we would have liked to see it go over 30MBps. You do have the option of installing a solid state drive (up to 160GB).

On the software and security side of things, the ProBook 6550b ships with HP ProtectTools, a fingerprint reader and a trusted platform module. You can use the fingerprint reader as a substitute for typing in passwords and HP Protect Tools allows administrators to lock down the machine so that certain devices can't be used, and also to encrypt the hard drive. We've talked more about ProtectTools in our review of the ProBook 6540b.

Battery life

The ProBook's 6-cell, 55 Watt-hour battery lasted 2hr 12min in our rundown test, in which we disable power management, enable Wi-Fi, maximise the screen's brightness and loop an Xvid-encoded video. This is only two minutes off what the ProBook 6540b recorded with the same battery and only a slightly slower CPU speed. You could get a lot more life out of this battery by employing a balanced power profile, lowering the brightness and letting the screen switch off during idle periods.

Conclusion

With a base that's filled with features, a hardware configuration that supplies good performance and management tools that can be useful, the ProBook 6550b is definitely a laptop worth considering. It looks a feels a little bulky, but it's not overly heavy and, most importantly, it's easy to type on.

Become a fan of PC World Australia on Facebook

Follow PC World Australia on Twitter: @PCWorldAu

Stay up to date with the latest news, reviews and features. Sign up to PC World's newsletters

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Read more on these topics: notebooks, HP, business notebooks

EBE

1

The WORST Notebook I ever had to work with, the reason, the display of another age ! 30° view angle, that crasy resolution of 1366x768 (Have I said I have to WORK with it, not display video)

Where did HP found that display? in India? made by kids for 1$/month with the cheapest component available ?

It's incredible. I had to buy a 21" Full HD display just to be able to WORK with good conditions.

EBE

KCC

2

I recently received this notebook as a replacement notebook from a Dell notebook. It blows the other away as you might expect. It is faster than I expected. I will say that I have to use a separate keyboard (wireless usb) because the keyboard that comes with the notebook is horrible. It seems that the keys have been shifted one full key to the left and my fingers are constantly confused on where they are supposed to lay. I like the power and the features. The battery life is poor IMHO as the reviewer stated. I would not use this at home but using it strictly as a CPU is good enough for me.

Post new comment

Users posting comments agree to the PC World comments policy.

Login or register to link comments to your user profile, or you may also post a comment without being logged in.

Jimmy

4.0

1

Pros
Solid processing capability
Cons
Touch-sensitive buttons
• • •

I received this as a work notebook and have to say for a first time (long-term) user of a notebook I'm overall impressed. It runs large excel files at a similar pace to my old desktop as well as graphic heavy powerpoint slides.

The only downside (minor) is the occasional delay or no response to hitting the touch sensitive buttons along the top. I like the concept - shortcuts to email and web etc. I don't find the lights bright as noted in the review, but I mostly use it in an office with plenty of light.

pey

3.5

2

Pros
graphic card
Cons
keyboard
• • •

working with keyboard is awful as if they are expanded. the speakers and sound card are hopeless .other stuff are ok but not outstanding

Bya

0.0

3

Pros
Nothing worth mentioning
Cons
Performance, Hanging, Wireless
• • •

This laptop is a huge disaster... one of the worst experiences i've had

Most Popular Reviews

Follow Us

Best Deals on GoodGearGuide

Shopping.com

Latest News Articles

Resources

GGG Evaluation Team

Kathy Cassidy

STYLISTIC Q702

First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.

Anthony Grifoni

STYLISTIC Q572

For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.

Steph Mundell

LIFEBOOK UH574

The Fujitsu LifeBook UH574 allowed for great mobility without being obnoxiously heavy or clunky. Its twelve hours of battery life did not disappoint.

Andrew Mitsi

STYLISTIC Q702

The screen was particularly good. It is bright and visible from most angles, however heat is an issue, particularly around the Windows button on the front, and on the back where the battery housing is located.

Simon Harriott

STYLISTIC Q702

My first impression after unboxing the Q702 is that it is a nice looking unit. Styling is somewhat minimalist but very effective. The tablet part, once detached, has a nice weight, and no buttons or switches are located in awkward or intrusive positions.

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?