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Which 12.5" ultraportable? Lenovo X230, Dell E6230 or HP 2570P?

Question

A competitor site has been moulding public opinion with a moderator there proclaiming repeatedly the Lenovo X230 is the best ultraportable on the market with no mention of either a Dell E6230 or HP 2570P as alternatives. Questioning that opinion may even get you banned.

As there are no sponsors on here to bias our recommendations, we can objectively evaluate all the pros and cons of these ultraportables below from which you can decide for yourself which features set best suits your needs. The notebookcheck.net reviews linked below are the very best available but do not cover some of the details below. So as not found on notebookreview.com, here's a pros/cons list of these three business ultraportables.

12.5" Lenovo Thinkpad X230 REVIEW

+ dual-drive capable: mSATA + 7mm 2.5" HDD/SSD but both are more expensive than 2.5" 9.5mm counterparts

+ 94Wh 9-cell battery option

+ backlit keyboard AND Thinklight

+ 54mm expresscard slot so can host an external eGPU for accelerated graphics/processing

+/- IPS LCD option. A pro/con depending on your needs. Pro: wide viewing angles and high brightness. Con: wide viewing angles bad for privacy, draws more power and there are reports of red appearing as orange and image ghosting.

+/- Displayport rather than HDMI port, a pro/con depending on your needs

-- quality issues with palmrest cracking above expresscard slot disintegrating, battery rattling around

- poor styling that hasn't evolved from their 1990s Thinkpads. Lenovo have spent $0 in the styling department.

- non-upgradable soldered CPU

- short palmrest may be uncomfortable if have large hands

- touchpad has no real physical mousebuttons, it's a clickpad

- whitelisted WWAN/wifi slots preventing use of future comms standards. I believe a hacked bios exists to get around this.

- Lenovo safeguard prevents use of cheaper aftermarket batteries -> need genuine Lenovo ones.

- eGPU users cannot get 16GB configuration to work -> need to downgrade to 8GB.

12.5" Dell Latitude E6230 REVIEW

+ contemporary styling

+ traditional keyboard with backlight option

+ do not whitelist their WWAN/wifi slots

+ easy servicability by removing bottom cover giving access to all major components

+ 34mm expresscard slot so can host an external eGPU for accelerated graphics/processing

+/- HDMI rather than Displayport, a pro/con depending on your needs

- no touchstyk

- non-upgradable soldered CPU

- no IPS LCD option but retrofit performed successfully here

- only single 7mm 2.5" SATA SSD/HDD capable

- no 9-cell battery option, rather uses a slice.

12.5" HP Elitebook 2570P REVIEW

++ socketted CPU -> can be be easily user upgraded to faster dual or quad cores but confirm warranty implications

++ optical drive. Can be replaced by caddy hosting a 9.5mm 2.5" SATA SSD/HDD alongside the primary 9.5mm 2.5" SSD/HDD.

++ supports RAID-0 across 2x6Gbps internal SATA channels for very fast SSD/HDD performance

++ exceptional build quality and contemporary styling

+ 100Wh 9-cell battery option

+ 34mm expresscard slot so can host an external eGPU for accelerated graphics/processing

+ easy servicability by removing bottom cover giving access to all major components

+/- Displayport rather than HDMI port, a pro/con depending on your needs

+ glass touchpad

-- heavier and thicker than the above two

- no IPS LCD option

- whitelisted WWAN/wifi slots preventing use of future comms standards. No hacked bios is possible due to RSA protection.

- no backlit keyboard option but has a nightlight

Summary

A Dell E6230 is somewhat more stylish than the X230 but has the least features of the lot. A Lenovo X230 has some great features, if you can live with it's uninspired styling and some quality issues.

Which brings us to the best unit from this lot. Given the massive move to smartphone/tablet mobile computing, having a complimentary 2570P offering near-desktop performanace levels when upgraded (CPU+storage), yet mobile enough to take on the road means it's the most potent tool from this set. It's also the significantly better built unit too.

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My ideal ultraportable is a super light weight Ivy based one (with user replaceable CPU socket) that also has a foldable touchscreen with a wacom digitizer so that it works seamlessly with Win 8. Ideal size would be about 13" IPS or even AMOLED (which are coming very soon) with WIDI/WiHD capabilities. It should also have a thunderbolt port which a lot of these notebooks lack. I'm guessing there has to be 1 or 2 ultraportables with this configuration coming to market soon.

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My ideal ultraportable is a super light weight Ivy based one (with user replaceable CPU socket) that also has a foldable touchscreen with a wacom digitizer so that it works seamlessly with Win 8. Ideal size would be about 13" IPS or even AMOLED (which are coming very soon) with WIDI/WiHD capabilities. It should also have a thunderbolt port which a lot of these notebooks lack. I'm guessing there has to be 1 or 2 ultraportables with this configuration coming to market soon.

The ultraportables listed in this comparo are from the last generation. A lot has changed since then with a rise in expectations - retina displays, cheap Nexus tablets, Win8, Thunderbolt. I too would love a feature set as you list. Unfortunately the first - upgradable CPUs looks to be on the way out. REF: http://forum.techinferno.com/general-notebook-discussions/2490-intel-might-kill-cpu-upgrades.html

I too am looking for a similar feature set in the next wave of ultraportable releases.

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Great comparison!

Latitude E6230 is the only one from the new Latitude series (with rounded edges so to speak) that looks acceptable to me. Unfortunately, I don't think it can compete with Thinkpad X230 at all, due to its insane price alone -- its about $500 more expensive than the X230 in the US (almost double the price). It also doesn't seem to have a trackpoint (I guess thats what you meant by touchstyk :D ), like X230 and 2570p and I really prefer it over classic touchpad.

I am hoping that they come out with better features like Brian mentioned in their next generation.

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Great comparison!

Latitude E6230 is the only one from the new Latitude series (with rounded edges so to speak) that looks acceptable to me. Unfortunately, I don't think it can compete with Thinkpad X230 at all, due to its insane price alone -- its about $500 more expensive than the X230 in the US (almost double the price). It also doesn't seem to have a trackpoint (I guess thats what you meant by touchstyk :D ), like X230 and 2570p and I really prefer it over classic touchpad.

I am hoping that they come out with better features like Brian mentioned in their next generation.

Agreed. A E6230 is the only one without the ugly orange accents so is the most stylish of the current Latitudes.

I am stunned by Latitude pricing in the US. The E6230 can be had for significantly less than the other two as a refurb in Australia. Here the 2570P is the dearest unit. imho too, it was a major oversight to not include a touchstyk on the E6230. Though I can see why by evaluating the E6230 vs E6330 keyboard below. See the trackpoint mouse buttons? They would have encroached into palmrest/touchpad space. I'm guessing the E6330 keyboard + touchstyk (without buttons) could be retrofitted to a E6230. What's the point without buttons? Maybe Dell could make the touchpad a clickpad when running in that configuration?

<A href="http://www.msystems.gr/files/product/14618.2.jpg"><img width=49% src=http://www.msystems.gr/files/product/14618.2.jpg></A> <A HREF="http://ww2.notebooki.wroc.pl/upload/e6330-8.jpg"><img width=49% src=http://ww2.notebooki.wroc.pl/upload/e6330-8.jpg></A>

Above: E6230 and E6330 keyboards compared

A E6230 has 3 mPCIe slots of which none are wired for mSATA. Dell really should have added a touchstyk and mSATA to their E6230. A IPS LCD option would be appreciated too.

HP also have a 2170P which looks like a smaller 2570P. It does have a touchstyk. It deviates from the ultrabook design by offering a removable 48Whr battery, 7mm 2.5" SSD/HDD, business grade build, matte LCD. Comes with a backlit LCD. Still it misses out on mSATA and what were HP thinking giving it only 48Whr?

So yeah.. I too hope the next generation of ultraportables from these vendors can incorporate the full feature set (mSATA, IPS, Thunderbolt, touch, touchstyk) and more.

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Yeah it looks like the trackpoint doesn't fit into that design. Or rather it would have fit if they got rid of the trackpoint, but for some reason (marketing?) they decided to go with a touchpad instead of a trackpoint.

Yeah the refurbished laptops are a bit cheaper ($600+ on E6230 for "certified refurbished"). HP 2170p new ones start from $1000 and the only Elitebook they're offering on their Academic website is 8770w (wtf...).

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Out of curiosity-why do you list display port as a disadvantage over hdmi?

I guess the ppl I spoke to always preferred HDMI over DP. I read that DP is preferred in a business environment but didn't see an elaboration as to why. Apple now having HDMI ports on their latest Macbook Retinas where previously they had TB/mDP only ports. Dell Latitudes also having HDMI rather than DP.

Yeah it looks like the trackpoint doesn't fit into that design. Or rather it would have fit if they got rid of the trackpoint, but for some reason (marketing?) they decided to go with a touchpad instead of a trackpoint.

Yeah the refurbished laptops are a bit cheaper ($600+ on E6230 for "certified refurbished"). HP 2170p new ones start from $1000 and the only Elitebook they're offering on their Academic website is 8770w (wtf...).

I'm with you and would have preferred a touchstyk over a touchpad. That way the hands never have to leave the keyboard. Though can see it would have been a dealbreaker for some then. 2170P pricing makes little sense - a 2570P can be bought for less. With their weird US pricing it almost looks like HP don't want to sell business notebooks to consumers.

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HDMI 1.3 and 1.4 max out at 1200p@60 Hz which is inferior to what DP can do. So for anyone hooking their system up to an external display, DP is the better choice since it can scale to 3840×2160px × 30 bits @ 60 Hz which is far superior. Also, HDMI 1.3 cannot do 1080p 3D, only 1.4 can and not a lot of notebooks are 1.4 compliant yet.

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HDMI 1.3 and 1.4 max out at 1200p@60 Hz which is inferior to what DP can do. So for anyone hooking their system up to an external display, DP is the better choice since it can scale to 3840×2160px × 30 bits @ 60 Hz which is far superior. Also, HDMI 1.3 cannot do 1080p 3D, only 1.4 can and not a lot of notebooks are 1.4 compliant yet.

Thank you for that insight. I've changed the HDMI/Displayport to be +/-, so a pro/con depending on the user needs.

Also discovered the HP 2570P supports RAID-0 striping if have two drives installed. Meaning could get close to 1GB/s block transfer rates if have two SATA-III SSDs installed. Also ddded more details on the X230's IPS LCD. It may be a con for some users.

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