The HP ProBook 6560b isn't flashy or as refined as an HP EliteBook and it's aimed at small business users rather than corporate types. It's not perfect by any means, but there are lots of things to like about it: good performance, solid build quality and plenty security features. However, there are also many things to dislike: it's heavy, it's noisy, it doesn't make use of switchable graphics, it could use a better keyboard and touchpad.
HP ProBook 6560b: Build quality and user comfort
The HP ProBook 6560b is a bulky and square-looking 15.6in notebook that weighs just over 2.8kg. It's heavy to lug around and not an ideal unit for anyone who values mobility. It feels quite strong though: it has a magnesium-reinforced chassis, metal hinges and an aluminium lid, but it doesn't shun plastic. The screen's bezel and parts of the chassis are still made from ABS plastics. It feels rigid overall and it will withstand many accidental knocks.
The HP ProBook 6560b's keyboard is spill resistant and it has drainage points that allow spilled liquid to escape. It's a good keyboard, but it's far from great. The keys feel a little too resistive and they could offer slightly better response. Another drawback is the lack of a backlight or a screen-mounted keyboard light. Nevertheless, it's a reasonably comfortable keyboard with a proper number pad. Its layout is standard, but the up and down arrow keys are cramped and hard to distinguish by feel.
A large touchpad (110x55mm) is present and it supports multi-finger gestures. It wasn't perfect during our tests and we often had to repeat a gesture (such as flicking to go back in a Web browser) in order for it to work properly. It felt a little too 'grippy' in our tests and nowhere near as good as the glass touchpad in the EliteBook 8460p, for example. Its left- and right-click buttons also felt a little too squishy for our liking — we'd like them to feel crisper when pressed.
One thing we noticed with our test model of the HP ProBook 6560b was a lot of noise. Apart from the cooling fan, we noticed a consistent and annoying whirring sound coming from the chassis, which we presume was from the hard drive. We weren't able to narrow down the cause of this extra noise, but a similar noise was also very noticeable it on the Dell Latitude E6420, which we also tested with the 32-bit version of Windows 7.
Servicing the HP ProBook 6560b is very easy. As was the case with the latest EliteBook, all you have to do is release the cover and slide it off. It doesn't come off as easily as the EliteBook's cover, though. The laptop looks well put together, with nary a cable out of place — every thing looks neat and tidy and all the major components are easy to access.
HP ProBook 6560b: Other features
The ProBook 6560b's matte screen has a native resolution of 1600x900, which is better than the standard resolution on most mainstream 15.6in notebooks (1366x768), and it provides adequate space for lining up two documents side by side using Windows 7's Aero Snap feature. It has good brightness and contrast for the most part, but you have to get the vertical viewing angle just right, otherwise text can look muddy. We also noticed a lot of automatic, dynamic brightness changes when running on battery power, which was due to the Vari-Bright feature in the Radeon graphics driver. Going from a dark background to a white background made the screen brightness increase gradually, and vice versa. This was a little off-putting
Processor: Intel Core i5