Red on the outside and sporting a black bezel and silver palm rest, the HP Pavilion x360 appears, at first glance, to be encased in a protective plastic cover in the way in which mobile devices are so often wrapped.
But for the x360, this impression is simply part of its design. This 11.6-inch laptop is not a rugged device.
The hinge on the x360 is able to rotate fully, enabling it to function as a laptop or tablet. HP likely got the inspiration for this from Lenovo's series of Yoga devices. But you are unlikely to use the x360 purely as a tablet as it weighs 1.49kg, which is twice as heavy as a typical slate.
But the device works great when you put the touchscreen right in front of you by rotating the keyboard so that it becomes the base, with the keys hidden beneath (above). This is "stand mode" and in this position, nothing will get in the way of your video-watching or gaming.
Unfortunately, the touchscreen's 1,366 x 768-pixel screen resolution is quite basic. What makes it worse is that the quality of the display is poor. Colours are less than vibrant and the screen looks more washed out when viewed off-centre.
The keyboard is the standard one found on most HP laptops, with an island-style layout that has a slightly shallow feel and a touchpad which is sized comfortably for multitouch gestures.
The x360 has three USB ports, though only one supports the faster USB 3.0 interface. It does have a very useful Ethernet port, which is increasingly uncommon.
Compared with Lenovo's Yoga devices, which are ultrabooks with the latest hardware, the x360 uses basic hardware that keeps its price at a very affordable $799. This is good for those on a budget.
Its hardware is tailored for this price segment. For example, it uses an Intel Pentium processor, which is significantly less capable than the Intel Core i5 chips found in mainstream laptops now.
This processor, together with a slow 500GB hard drive, are the likely culprits for the x360's mediocre performance. Apps take several seconds to load. Booting up Windows 8.1 took more than 10 seconds, which is longer than usual.
Competing with the x360 is Sony's Vaio Fit 11A, which also works as either a tablet or a laptop. But while the Sony machine is much more responsive because it has a solid-state drive, it is also pricier, at $1,299.
The x360's battery life is dismal - just 3hr 21min of video playback. In fact, this is inferior to some gaming laptops, which are not exactly known for battery stamina.
The $799 price tag is attractive, but the x360 has some serious flaws, including poor battery life, which dampen our enthusiasm for it.
Processor: Intel Pentium N3520 (2.16GHz)
Screen size: 11.6 inches, 1,366 x 768 pixels
Connectivity: 1 x USB 3.0, 2 x USB 2.0, HDMI, SD card slot, Ethernet port, headphone and microphone combo jack
Battery: 28 watt-hour
Value for money 3/5
Battery life 2/5
This article was published on April 16 in Digital Life, The Straits Times.
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