HP Pavilion x360 hybrid tablet/laptop
HP's Pavilion x360 offers plenty of style and functionality at a budget price
- Strong and vibrant design
- Good built-in features
- Comfortable keyboard
- Battery life is short
- Screen can be hard to view in tablet mode
- Feels heavy as a tablet
HP's Pavilion x360 is a hybrid laptop for budget users. It can be easily turned into a tablet, and it has a good set of built-in features. It's screen isn't great, though, and you won't get too much performance and battery life out of it. That said, well worth looking into if you want a neat convertible Windows 8 PC for under $600.
Price$ 599.00 (AUD)
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The HP Pavilion x360 (11-n008TU) is a device with a hybrid purpose: you can use it as a regular laptop, or you can tilt its screen all the way around and turn the laptop into a tablet. It's a neat solution to the 2-in-1 problem, mainly because there is no need to slide, separate, or snap the product in order to convert it. It's also an inexpensive product, and that's because it's aimed at the entry-level end of the market. This means it's not a refined product, and it's not very fast either, but it can still provide an enjoyable overall user experience.
Design and build quality
Unlike most tablet hybrids, which can be usually found in black, white or silver, the Pavilion x360 came to us decked out in a nice red shell, similar to the colour you might find on some Beats headphones. In fact, the Pavilion x360 is one of HP's Beats Audio laptops (though it doesn't come with headphones), so if you already have a pair of Beats by Dre, this hybrid tablet would make a nice match in terms of looks.
It's a well built hybrid that has a solid feel to it, and the hinge that holds the screen is a chunky one. It needs to be chunky because it has two sets of mounting points on both ends. One mounting point is for the base, and the other is for the screen. The way it works is simple: you tilt the screen back all the way it can go, then push it back some more in order to make it go all the way around. This exposes the keyboard on the other side, and you can feel the keys as you use it in tablet mode, but they are disabled so that you won't accidentally press them and invoke the wrath of Windows 8.
While it's a neat design, it can be a cumbersome process to turn the screen all the way around. This is because it's a relatively big unit due to its 11.6in screen, and it tipped our scales at 1.5kg. We can envision some people getting sick of having to lift and manipulate the screen, and that is one of the hurdles this design presents. With designs such as the Envy X2 hybrid PC, in which the screen splits from the base, the conversion process is perhaps a little more fiddly (due to having to release the screen), but less physical.
With a base full of laptop parts, the pavilion x360 feels too big and heavy to be used as a regular tablet — it's just over 20mm thick when in its tablet formation. Put it this way: you won't be able to hold it comfortably in the same way as an iPad or an Android slate. It's mainly a product that you can use as a tablet while resting it either on your lap or on another surface.
You're not restricted to using it only as a notebook or tablet, though. The screen can be positioned in such a way that the unit stands on its own, a little like a photo frame, which is handy when all you want to do is watch movies.
One thing we should mention right now is that the screen isn't great. While it has angles that are decent enough for viewing content when in laptop mode, viewability isn't great in tablet mode. We noticed that Web pages were tiring to read when we viewed the screen upside down or sideways. This was due to the narrow angles of the screen, and dependent on how much light was present in our environment.
Furthermore, the brightness is just a bit too low and the output overall looks pale. Reflections are also a problem, though they will be most annoying when viewing a dark background in an image or movie, and also when holding the screen in portrait mode. The native resolution is 1366x768, and while this is adequate, it doesn't look very sharp.
Its touch performance is responsive overall. We had no problems making use of the Windows 8 Modern UI and the various gestures associated with it, such as swiping in from the right to access the Charms bar, and flicking from the left to change apps.
We like the keyboard on this hybrid laptop and think it's a good one to use for long sessions of typing thanks to its Chiclet keys and familiar layout. The keys felt soft, they were easy to hit, and they were responsive. However, the arrow keys are very small and take some getting used to. Note that it's not a backlit keyboard.
A touchpad measuring 98x61mm resides just under the keyboard, and it supports common gestures such as two-finger scrolling and three-finger flicking. It felt smooth during our tests and gave us no problems to report.
Specifications, performance and battery life
The performance of the Pavilion x360 is reliant upon an Intel Celeron N2820 CPU that has two cores and a frequency of 2.13GHz. You also get 4GB of RAM and a 320GB hard drive, rather than a solid state drive. It felt responsive overall during our test period. Applications loaded reasonably swiftly, and we were able to browse the Web and watch videos with few problems. That said, when we got to a Web page with a lot of Flash elements, the CPU got bogged down and this affected the ease with which we could visit other sites or perform other tasks on the computer while that Flash-heavy tab was open.
In our Blender 3D rendering test, the CPU showed that it isn't very quick, taking a pedestrian 2min 44sec to complete our test render. Even Medion's Akoya P2212T hybrid tablet has a slightly more powerful Celeron N2920 CPU in it. Live video streaming suffered a little from dropped frames when we tested with services such as NBA League Pass (we had to use the medium quality setting for this service), and other services such as Channel TEN's live streaming of the Formula 1 also weren't as silky as we would have liked, but Full HD YouTube videos played back smoothly overall.
Basically, you can use the Pavilion x360 as a YouTube machine, and even for other online video streaming services, though you might have to play with the quality in order to get optimal results. Web-based document creation can be handled easily by the x360, and since it's a full-blown Windows 8 machine, you can even run a regular version of MS Office on it. You can browse through photos easily while in tablet mode, and many simple games from the Windows Store will run without any problems (think games such as RipTide GT, card games, Angry Birds, and games where you have to tap or swipe your way to a high score). It recorded 1137 in 3DMark's Cloud Gate, and 14820 in Ice Storm.
Battery life is not good. In our rundown test, in which we disable power management, enable Wi-Fi, maximise screen brightness, and loop a video file until the device runs out of puff, the Pavilion x360 lasted only 3hr 44min. Even the aforementioned Medion hybrid recorded over seven hours in this same test.
Features around the sides of the Pavilion x360 include USB (two USB 2.0 ports and one USB 3.0), full-sized HDMI, a full-sized SD card slot (the goes all the way in), a headset port, and an Ethernet port. You get single-band Wi-Fi, which is a little disappointing (we would have made good use of a 5GHz network in our environment), and there is a webcam and Bluetooth. We had no problems streaming music from services such as Google Play Music and Bandcamp to a BlueAnt Ribbon receiver.
The speakers are decent if you want to listen to music or watch videos without plugging in headphones or tapping in to Bluetooth, but they are located on the underside of the tablet and are easy to muffle. When you use the x360 in tablet, the speaker chambers won't be sandwiched between the base and the screen (they are located at the part of the base that curves, so there is some air for them), but they will still sound muffled depending on the tablet's orientation.
The HP Pavilion x360 is a solid product overall, with a good build quality and a strong hinge design. It's also quite heavy, and this can make it a cumbersome product and tiring to use as a tablet for long periods of time. Because it's a budget product, the power under the hood is minimal, but it's nevertheless a product that can provide a good overall user experience. As an entry-level notebook for basic Web tasks, word processing, social networking and communications, it will be quite useful. Just bear in mind that it can be quite heavy when used as a tablet, and that its screen won't always give you a good view.
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