Hands-on review of the HP Pavilion x360: a Windows 8.1 convertible at a decent price
Announced June 1st by HP, the Pavilion x360 is designed for someone who is looking for productivity and mobility with a decent price tag. The device features a 360-degree hinge, allowing you to utilize the machine in various different manners depending on your preference.
For a starting price of $399, you can get yourself the Pavilion x360. Sure, there are pricey alternatives out there, such as the Lenovo Yoga convertible, which also features a 360-degree hinge. You can even dish out over $799 for an entry level Surface Pro 3 device. But the fact remains, HP is offering a decently priced Windows 8.1 convertible laptop/tablet.
“Use as a notebook to work, rotate into a stand to watch, convert into a tent to play, and transform into a tablet to go anywhere. This innovative convertible PC has the flexibility to keep up with all your needs,” HP states.
Well, lets put HP’s theory to the test. Is this flexible convertible Windows 8.1 PC worth the price? Let’s dive in and explore!
Let’s start off by taking a look at the specifications of this device. Hardware is an important aspect in any machine, and can make or break the deal. But we must remember, this is a $399 device, so the specs won’t be as impressive when compared to a Surface Pro 3 for example. Here are the full specs:
- Intel Pentium N3520 quad-core processor at 2.16GHz
- Intel HD Graphics
- 11.6-inch diagonal HD LED-backlit Display (1366×768)
- 8GB DDR3 System Memory ($75.00 upgrade)
- 500 GB 5400 rpm Hard Drive
- 2x USB 2.0, 1x USB 3.0, 1x HDMI, 1x RJ-45 jack, 1x card reader
- Ralink RT3290 802.11bgn WiFi
- HP TrueVision HD Webcam
- Built-in Beats Audio with 2 front speakers
- No internal DVD or CD Drive
- 2 Cell Lithium Ion battery
- Weighs 3.08 lbs
- Powered by Windows 8.1 64bit
The machine comes with a decent processor and the overall responsiveness of the device is excellent. I was worried that a small and cheap-priced device like this would be super sluggish and slow, but I was mistaken. The display is the biggest downfall in my opinion, as the screen size is small, the resolution is weak, and the visual quality isn’t all that vibrant. However, it’s great for its intended purpose of being a cheap-priced machine that you can give to your kids.
The HP Pavilion x360 comes packed with ports all around the device. There are plenty of USB ports – more than you really need on a small convertible like this, but we wont complain for the added functionality.
One aspect of the machine that really shines is the built-in Beats Audio. The audio quality is absolutely amazing and clear. The speakers are located at the bottom of the front portion of the machine. The quality of the speakers make me feel like I am immersed in a surround sound setup and I am sitting in front of a loud center speaker.
The webcam, HDMI port, and card reader all worked flawlessly without a hitch, nor were there any problems or performance issues. The touch screen display also worked without any flaws when maneuvering around Windows 8.1.
I was quickly impressed at how beautiful the device looks and feels. The screen doesn’t seem too small, the keyboard looks gorgeous, the trackpad looks good, and the device is littered with ports all around it – something I actually like.
I was also impressed at the flexibility of the machine. Not only is it light weight (only 3.08 lbs), but you can fold the keyboard under the screen and activate what is called “stand mode” which is perfect for viewing a video or playing a game without having the keyboard interfere with your activities. You can even balance the machine upside down and activate “tent mode.”
The Pavilion x360 boots up very quick, which is a big positive in my opinion. The power button, which is located on the left side of the device, can be a bit of a pain at times. You really have to press it hard for it to activate. I found myself pressing the button to no avail, realizing I needed to press it a bit harder for it to work. After the button is pressed appropriately, you will see the button’s LED indicator turn white, indicating that the machine is on.
Upon logging into Windows 8.1, I was easily able to connect the device to WiFi internet. Few applications were downloaded and we noticed a bit of sluggishness along the way, but then again, you can’t compare this to a quad-core power house.
The machine allows you to fold the keyboard under the screen and utilize it as a tablet. However, unlike the Surface tablet from Microsoft, you can actually feel the keys from the keyboard on your fingertips as you hold the device in your hands. This feels awkward. The keys are not activated, so you have nothing to worry about. The only reason Microsoft was able to skate away from this awkwardness is because of the thin keys on the Touch/Type cover. This is a minor issue if you don’t mind feeling keys on your fingertips as you hold the device in tablet mode.
The Pavilion x360 comes pre-loaded with Windows 8.1 64bit. I was a bit disappointed to see that Windows 8.1 Update 1 was not pre-installed, but this is a minor oversight that can easily be fixed. All I had to do was navigate to Windows Update and wait a few hours for all the updates to download and install. This process drained the battery a bit, so I ended up charging the machine immediately after installing the updates.
The device comes pre-loaded with various apps and software, including HP Smart Friend, HP Connected Drive, HP Connected Photo, McAfee Central, Box, Netflix, FreshPaint, Taptiles, and more. The device also comes with Office 365, but you will be prompted to purchase, activate, or try the software. This is a bit of a let down. You are left without an Office productivity suite (from Microsoft) unless you actually signed up for it.
There are also various CyberLink software, including Media Suite 10, PhotoDirector, YouCam, and PowerDVD 12. I’m not a big fan of these software titles, so I removed them to free up some space. Don’t get me wrong, the device has plenty of storage space, but plan to spend a little while to clean out the apps you don’t want.
Watching HD video on this device offered a smooth experience with no stuttering or slowdowns. I experienced no slowdowns or performance related issues when watching a 1080p video and performing other tasks – like launching another program. This device can multitask, that’s for sure!
We ran PCMark 8, a computer benchmark tool developed by Futuremark, which gave us a Home Conventional score of 1263. The test lasted close to fifty minutes. In comparison, this score doesn’t even compete with the average Office PC score of 2498, Gaming laptop score of 2521, Ultralight notebook score of 2633, and High end gaming PC score of 4908. This Home Conventional test measures the performance of the CPU, GPU, RAM, and more, offering a well rounded score of the device.
The PCMark Work test gave us a score of 1501. The Work benchmark test measures the system’s ability to perform basic office work tasks, such as writing documents, browsing websites, creating spreadsheets, and using video chat. Since this device is targeted towards these capabilities, this score is important.
We ran the test a few times – from start to finish – drained the battery from 100% to 15%. Keep in mind that the system was under a heavy amount of stress during each test, lasting close to an hour.
We also ran 3DMark RT, an app from Futuremark available in the Windows Store, and achieved a score of “maxxed out” for the Ice Storm test. The Ice Storm test is used to compare mainstream smartphones/tablets, and is a test that includes two 720p graphics tests to measure GPU performance and a physics test to stress its CPU performance.
The Ice Storm Extreme test, a test for high performance mobile devices, gave us a 8392 score. Running the score a second time gave us a score of 10012. Comparatively, Microsoft’s Surface Pro 2 and the Nokia Lumia 2520 are “maxxed out.” Microsoft’s Surface 2, on the other hand, has a score of 9438. HP’s Pavilion x360 scored higher than the Asus Transformer Book T100A (7630) and the Dell XPS 10 (3036). The Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 11, which competes directly with this device, has a score of 2067.
This machine is not intended to play games like Battlefield 4, Watch Dogs, Call of Duty Ghosts, or similar resource-intensive games. However, games from the Windows Store will run just fine.
HP claims this device can last up to 4 hours and 30 minutes on a full charge. We put this claim to the test and found that the battery will last close to four hours with moderate use. Heavy use of it, such as watching a movie, will drain the battery faster. But for the most part, you can snag up to 4 hours of battery life.
Thankfully, the convertible charges from 20% to 100% in roughly one hour. Although, I highly recommend you keep the device plugged into the outlet while downloading and installing Windows Updates as it can drain the battery quickly.
A decent windows 8.1 convertible at a fantastic price – perfect as your kid’s first computer
Favorite features: This convertible is perfect for sitting in class and typing up notes. You can even place it on your lap while you are sitting outdoors, enjoying the morning weather. The ability to twist this device from laptop to tablet is a fantastic feature, even though it feels awkward holding it in tablet mode.
Drawbacks: The battery life could use some improvements and the display wasn’t as vibrant as I would have hoped for. However, these are minor issues. The device is reasonably priced and that means compromises in certain areas of the hardware.
Bottom line: If you are looking to purchase a laptop or tablet for your teenager, or you are looking for a cheap device to use in school, I highly recommend the HP Pavilion x360. If this machine was priced any higher than $399, I would have given it a low rating. Simply put, this inexpensive Windows 8.1 convertible packs a punch – considering the price tag. Could it use better specs? Of course. But the point is, for $399, you just cant go wrong.
Further reading: HP, Microsoft, Windows 8.1