HP 250 G4 review
Compared to some of the colourful and stylish budget laptops around, such as the Dell Inspiron 11 3000, the HP 250 G4 is a plain-looking laptop with no fancy design features, and a style that positively wants to be ignored. See also: Best cheap laptops you can buy.
Also see: Best Laptop Deals
There is something special hidden inside, though. This is one of the cheapest laptops you’ll find to use an Intel Core-series processor, instantly solving many of the most serious day-to-day problems you’ll run into using a cheap computer. If your laptop fund is limited, you can’t argue with this bargain machine.
Updated December 2016: The 250 G4 has now been replaced by the G5. It's still possible to buy the 250 G4, but prices are now so inflated that it doesn't make sense to buy this model any longer. Our recommendation is the new 250 G5, which uses the same chassis and screen, but upgrades the internal components to the following:
- Intel Core i5-6200U
- 8GB RAM
- 256GB SSD
- Intel HD Graphics 520
You can buy this model (part no. X0Q78ES) from Ebuyer for £349.95, but note that it does not have a DVD drive. If you were hoping to spend closer to £300, then the W4N08EA model costs only £279.98 from Ebuyer and has the following specs:
- Intel Core i3-5005U
- 4GB RAM
- 500GB HDD
HP 250 G4 review: Price
There are many variants of the of the HP 250 G4, which - as we've said above - has now been replaced by the G5 version. You can save a bit if you go for the model with 4GB rather than 8GB of RAM, and a traditional hard drive rather than an SSD.
There are also higher-spec versions: one model has a Core i5-6200U and a 256GB SSD.
That sort of spec is going to give you Windows performance comparable with a much more expensive laptop. It may not have it all, but this laptop offers plenty of pep for your pound.
HP 250 G4 review: Features and design
If you're thinking this laptop looks quite familiar, that's because it has been around for a long time. We reviewed the similar AMD-based model, the HP 255 G4, back in January. The 250 G4 shares the same chassis and design: it isn't out to thrill - it's a tool, a workhorse. In fact, this design has been around a good while: even HP's website still has photos of the laptop back when it was sold with Windows 8. Of course, they all come with Windows 10 Home now.
None of this matters one jot if you're simply after a basic laptop with good performance for little money.
Decked out in black and very dark grey, many will think it’s boring. But there are some little aesthetic gems. There’s an embossed diamond pattern on the lid and a dotty texture on the keyboard surround.
Both look good when they catch the light, but their biggest benefit is in putting a sensory layer between your fingers and the basic plastic that makes up the HP 250 G4’s shell. We’re glad the part around the keyboard doesn’t feel like the plain rough plastic above it.
You’d probably guess this was a cheaper laptop, but it doesn’t feel hugely cheap. Compared to the similarly priced Asus X553 we reviewed recently the HP 250 G4 is extremely sturdy. No part of the laptop flexes much under finger pressure and the hinge feels very solid.
Treat it rough and the mechanical hard drive would probably fail before the shell becomes too damaged.
You won’t want to take the HP 250 G4 out too often anyway. This is not a hugely portable laptop. It weighs 2.14kg and the 15.6in frame just isn’t going to fit easily into a lot of bags. If you’re after something to use on-the-go, check out a 13.3-inch display laptop or smaller first.
This is the sort of laptop you can use as your main machine, not least because it has a good spread of connections for a cheaper model. There are three USB ports (1x USB 3.0, 2x USB 2.0), an SD card slot, and Ethernet port and both VGA and HDMI video connectors.
HP has clearly designed this machine knowing that some of you will want to plug in a monitor and keyboard/mouse.
HP 250 G4 review: Keyboard and trackpad
Typical of the HP 250 G4’s practical style, the keyboard and trackpad are decent already, though. The keyboard is a standard chiclet design, also fitting a number pad to the right side of the normal keys.
Key travel is a little shallow and feedback on the soft side, but it’s still clearly-defined and non-spongy. None of the HP 250 G4’s keys have been radically shaved down or moved too silly positions either.
Like the build, the keyboard is not fancy, but solid. Like other laptops at this price, there’s no backlight.
At first glance the trackpad appears far more unusual. The pad isn’t separated from the keyboard surround. It’s just an area where there aren’t glossy dots, just plain roughened plastic.
This is not the nicest surface for a trackpad, and is one of the few disappointments of this laptop. Something a bit smoother would give the machine a much less budget feel.
From a pure practical perspective, the trackpad is fine, though. Its buttons are separated out, sitting below the pad in a plastic bar. A nice little touch, the right button requires a much lighter press than the left one, a conscious nod to the fact you’re more likely to be pressing it with a digit other than your index finger.
As comfortable as the trackpad is to use from a position and button-prodding perspective, the pad surface could be nicer.
HP 250 G4 review: Screen
Typical of an entry-level laptop, the HP 250 G4 has a basic screen. It’s 15.6 inches across and 1366 x768 pixel resolution. This is the sort of screen that has been used in laptops for well over a decade. It’s not very sharp.
Its colour is clearly undersaturated, making the display look a little anaemic. Our colorimeter tells us it hits just 55.2 percent of the sRGB gamut, which is poor but predictable given we’re looking at a pocket-money PC.
Horizontal viewing angles are passable, suffering from some loss of brightness, but it’s only the vertical angle that causes the contrast shift we associate with the TN LCD panel used here.
If you need more proof that this isn’t a laptop to get if you want to avoid having to buy a TV, its native contrast is just 200:1, which is pretty dismal.
These figures make the HP 250 G4’s screen sound awful, but when used in a lit room, all you will notice is that the colours are a bit weak. The screen looks its best when there’s a decent amount of ambient light, letting the reflection-busting matt finish show off what it can do.
Maximum brightness is 273cd/m2, a typical entry-level result, but in concert with the matt finish means you can use the HP 250 G4 nearby a bright window or outdoors.