HP's small, simple 2-in-1 laptops are an easy recommendation for high school or university students, parents, grandparents -- just about anyone who needs a straightforward web-browsing and email-emailing PC that can do double duty as a tablet for a bit of Netflix or Stan or Spotify. At less than $700, the Pavilion x360 is the natural choice from the company's extensive line-up; I gave one a quick test drive.
The rotating hinge is better than ever. HP's Spectre x360 was the light of my life for the couple of months that I had it, and I feel the same about the much, much cheaper Pavilion. The hinge rotates over the entire range from laptop to tablet, and because it's now a geared hinge it'll hold its position very solidly and won't wobble. That wobble is the bane of my existence whenever I'm using a tablet-laptop hybrid, like the unfortunate Toshiba Portege Z20t, so it's very nice to see on the Pavilion -- in fact, it's probably my favourite part of the entire device.
Extra Intel power comes in very handy. Standard spec for the Pavilion x360 is an Intel Pentium N3700, clocked between 1.6 and 2.4GHz depending on how hard you're pushing it. A 500GB mechanical hard drive and 4GB of RAM make for pretty vanilla computing specifications, while the 11.6-inch rotating WLED touchscreen has a 1366x768 pixel resolution. I haven't been able to find them in Australia just yet, but the new HP Pavilion x360 also comes with a Core M processor also with a SSD and 8GB of RAM, as well as a Full HD 1080p display. At those specs, it'd be far and away the fastest sub-13-inch 2-in-1 laptop around, and a proper pocket powerhouse.
It's still thicker and heavier than we'd like. While that re-designed hinge is a lot fancier than the old one, and it contributes to the Pavilion x360 looking a lot slicker and a lot more streamlined, the laptop overall is still quite chunky and thick for its 11.6-inch screen footprint. It's not that it has a particularly thick display or a particularly thick base, it's just that the two folded together in a clamshell are a little unwieldy. At 22.5mm thick, the 306x208mm laptop is certainly portable, but not quite as sleek as a larger device -- like HP's own Spectre x360 -- that has similar hardware and battery in a more spread-out space. It's fine, but just not iPad or Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 territory.
The display is OK, but it could be a bit better. The 1366x768 resolution over 11.6 inches isn't exactly super-blocky and pixelated, but the Full HD option would be by far the better choice. They're both 10-point touchscreens, but it's that extra pixel density that makes video look good and that makes text -- and if you're in tablet mode reading an ebook, that's important -- looks excellent. Viewing angles were merely alright rather than great on the device that I tested, but you're not going to be watching Netflix with a group of people on such a small screen, and for the one user that's actually using it, viewing angles aren't as important as outright resolution.
Battery life is better than you'd expect. With a 32Whr battery hidden away in that chassis, and energy-efficient processor options, you'll be able to eke out a good amount of battery life; HP promises eight hours from the Core M version if you can find it in stock. Even the lesser Celeron and Pentium models should get similar results -- they just won't be quite as impressive in the benchmarks department. When you consider that watching video or tinkering around on the web is pretty low demand for the x360's battery, it should come as no surprise that I managed to get a solid seven and a half hours of run time from my time with the x360 looping 720p downloaded video with Wi-Fi on.
HP's newly updated Pavilion x360 starts at $699, although you can find it for a pretty significant discount of around $100 if you shop around. At that price, it's pretty hard not to recommend as a Windows 10 laptop with the features of a tablet, and with the versatility of dual noise-cancelling mics for Cortana support -- once it's released throughout Australia. [HP Australia]