Using older-generation platform and hardware that just about meets the minimum system requirements is a common means adopted by most laptop manufacturers to churn out wallet-friendly offerings, and this is inevitable to stay in competition. It would have been nice if latest-generation models were available in the same price bracket, but nevertheless, the second-generation Intel platform has the muscle to handle Windows 8 and basic everyday tasks.
The HP 2000-2202TU uses a slightly dated configuration, but offers good bang for the buck, not to mention it comes with Windows 8 and a bonus feature that we’ll talk about later in the review. Here’s what it has to offer.
An affordable Windows 8 laptop with a 15.6-inch display
Design and features
You can tell by the design that the HP 2000 is an entry-level notebook—it’s very simple, yet elegant thanks to the generous use of gloss. The shiny lid sports a large HP logo imprinted at the bottom corner, close to the hinge. It looks classy so long as it’s devoid of fingerprints, dust particles and scratches, which it attracts too easily. The same goes with the palm rest on either side of the touchpad. Rest your palm on the touchpad for a second and you’ll be able to see the impression clearly. If you’re obsessive about keeping things clean and shiny, you’ll want to clean the glossy surfaces every now and then. Mind you, don’t use a piece of denim, tissue or rough fabric to clean, or else you’ll end up with faint scratches that will remain forever—a microfibre cloth would be most ideal and should have been bundled in the package. The laptop comes across as black at the first glance, but if you notice carefully, the glossy surface area is black licorice in colour and has a very slight hint of brown. The rest of the body work, including the frame, keyboard area and base of the chassis is matte black.
Looks classy so long as you keep it shiny and sparkling
Open the lid and you’ll be greeted by a slick 15.6-inch display that has a resolution of 1366 x 768 pixels. The keyboard is island-type and slightly sunk into the chassis. Since the laptop is on the larger side due to the 15.6-inch display, we expected the keyboard to have a numeric pad, which is missing. It seems HP has chosen to go with a more ergonomic keyboard with larger and well-spaced keys. The touchpad is regular with left and right click buttons at its base. It has a fine dimpled texture, which prevents resistance caused by the fingertip sticking to the surface, especially when your hands are sweaty. If you take a close look at the touchpad, you’ll find a tiny depression at the top right corner. Double-tapping on it disables the touchpad, which is indicated by a tiny LED just next to it. It’s a handy feature should you want to prevent unnecessary mouse movements and accidental clicks while typing.
Two USB 3.0 ports and HDMI output
Being an older platform, you get only USB 2.0 ports. Two of them are placed on the right side in line with the tray-loading DVD writer and one is placed on the left side amidst a D-sub port, Gigabit Ethernet port, an HDMI port, 3.5 mm jacks for headphone and mic, and card reader. The features mentioned until this point of the review are common for all models in the HP 2000 series. It’s the core that differs between models. The HP 2000-2202TU that was sent to us for review by HP runs the second-generation Intel Core i3-2328M processor (dual-core and clocked at 2.2GHz). Now, this is a bit disappointing; the laptop comes with only 2GB RAM and 500GB hard drive that has a spindle speed of 5400 rpm. At least 4GB RAM and a 7200 rpm hard drive would have made a remarkable difference in performance, but that would have pushed the cost much further than the Rs 30,000 mark, and that is inclusive of the Windows 8 64-bit operating system. As for the bonus bit that we mentioned in the beginning, select HP laptops (2000 series included) that ship with Windows 8 include a year’s subscription to HP Connected Music. It’s a service that lets you listen to streamed music and also download tracks free of charge, for which HP has tied up with Hungama.com and Universal Music. HP claims the large catalogue of music includes over one million songs by more than 20,000 artistes spanning multiple genres including Bollywood, Devotional, Rock, Jazz, Hip Hop and Country among others. Users can renew the subscription after a year, the cost of which HP is currently working on.
Most of the IO are placed on the left side
A shortcut is present on the desktop that signs you into the service after you activate the subscription. You’re taken to the HP Connected Music webpage in the default web browser from where you can browse categories and playlists, listen to tracks and even download them. But there’s a catch; streamed playback doesn’t play entire tracks—it’s meant to give you a 30 second preview should you want to get a taste before downloading the full tracks.
Build quality and ergonomics
The HP 2000 is a good-looker, but the build quality isn’t exceptional. It isn’t poor either, just that there’s room for improvement. The use of more solid plastic in the construction of the shell would have done away with the plasticky feel. Apart from this, we didn’t find any issues with the build. HP should have paid more attention to ergonomics. We liked the large island-type keyboard. The alphabet and numeric keys are large and those in the top row mainly comprising function keys are slightly stunted. The mapping of shortcuts to the function keys is done in a different manner. Instead of being usable in combination with the Fn key, functions such as brightness and volume control, browser shortcut and wireless toggle are mapped as primary, so they act like hotkeys requiring no key combinations. However, function keys work as they should when used in combination with the [Alt] key; for instance, Alt+F4 will close the active Window—you don’t have to press Alt+Fn+F4.
Island-type keyboard with large keys sans a numeric keypad
The tactility of the keyboard isn’t up to the mark. The key travel is optimal, but when pressed, the slight mushy feel of the rubber membrane underneath doesn’t feel quite good—not surprising as this is a problem with most entry-level laptops. However, the keyboard on this laptop is better off. The touchpad is comfortable to use and the left and right buttons have good tactile response.
You can easily tell that the laptop lacks punch within five minutes of use. There’s a noticeable lag even while using built-in apps in Windows, which is mainly due to the meagre amount of installed RAM. The deal would have been sweeter had HP installed 4GB RAM instead of 2GB. Thankfully, it can be easily resolved by adding another 2GB DDR3 module in the empty slot easily accessible by removing the tiny panel that covers the RAM slots and Wireless N/Bluetooth 3.0 half PCIe combo card. The hard drive bay is also accessibly by opening a tiny panel fastened with a single screw. So, the hard drive and RAM can be easily replaced/upgraded by the user.
User-upgradeable memory and hard drive
Anything above 3000 points in PCMark 7 is a very good score for an entry-level laptop. The HP 2000-2202TU logged 1964 points, which isn’t too bad. It took 104 seconds to compress 100MB of multiple files to 7.zip format (Ultra preset) and 78 seconds to transcode a 1 minute MPEG video to H.264 format—marginally slower than a second-generation Core i5-powered laptop.
Full HD videos play flawlessly and we were particularly impressed by the Altec Lansing speakers present along the front side of the chassis. They sound as if they’re packed in a large empty box, but they are easily one of the best we’ve seen in entry-level laptops. Tinker with the equaliser settings and they’ll sound much better than they do at flat setting.
The biggest weakness of this laptop is its dismal battery life. Most entry-level laptops survive for around 1.5 hours in the Classic test in Battery Eater Pro. The strenuous test renders a 3D scene in an endless loop, which goes on until the battery runs dry. The HP 2000 survived for only 72 minutes. With light to medium load, you should get up to 2.5 hours of battery life.
Verdict and price in India
At Rs 30,467, the HP 2000-2202TU is one of the most affordable Core i3-powered laptops that come pre-installed with Windows 8. It packs good punch for its configuration, but we recommend adding 2GB RAM for optimal performance, which will set you back about Rs 900. If you already have a Windows license or plan to install Linux, you can opt for HP 2000-2201TU, which is the DOS variant with exactly the same set of hardware costing around Rs 3,000 less. Some of the other options within the same price range are Toshiba Satellite C840-I4010, Acer Gateway NE56R and Fujitsu Lifebook AH532—do consider these if you’re planning to buy an entry-level laptop.
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