Hands on: HP Pavilion x360 (2015) review

An affordable 2-in-1 laptop for everyone

What is a hands on review?
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Our Early Verdict

If you want a 2-in-1 laptop at an affordable price? HP has introduced a solid 11.6-inch option with the HP Pavilion x360.

For

  • Great specs for an affordable price
  • Vastly improved hinge mechanism
  • Potentially 8 hours of battery life

Against

  • Still bulky and heavy
  • Thin viewing angles

2015 is turning out to be the year of hybrid laptops with some excellent devices hitting the street such as the Lenovo Yoga Pro 3 and Asus Transformer Book T300 Chi. Not to be left out, HP has been on a tear of its own, creating the Spectre x360 in partnership with Microsoft. Now, the American electronics firm hopes to make the Pavilion x360 a convertible laptop for the everyman.

Starting at $409 (about £273, AU$530) the 11.6-inch HP Pavilion x360 comes well packaged with a vibrant 1,366 x 768 HD display as well as a capable Intel Pentium processor. Aside from the specs on paper, this is also an affordable 2-in-1 laptop that doesn't feel cheap.

HP Pavilion x360 2015

Progressive design

HP has taken all the engineering lessons it learned while working with Microsoft to design the Spectre x360 and applied it to its latest colorful convertibles. Like the company's high-end convertible, the Pavilion x360 features a geared hinge, which firmly holds the laptop screen in place whether you place the laptop on a desk in tent mode or flip the keyboard all the way back for a full-on tablet experience.

The geared hinge is certainly more discreet than the thick, bar-shaped hinge last year's model featured. In fact, if you were to just open the notebook up at a café no one would know it was a transforming machine until you bent the screen all the way back.

HP Pavilion x360

However, despite the new hinge, this Pavilion x360 is a tiny bit bulkier than last year's model measuring 0.89 inches (22.5 mm) thick and 3.21 pounds (1.45 kg). Comparatively, the 2014 model came in a hair smaller at 0.86 inches (22 mm) and 3.08 pounds (1.4 kg).

Though it's only a small increase in weight and size, the Pavilion x360 is a bit unwieldy to hold as a tablet, especially when the laptop's two sides don't meld together with flat edges like Lenovo Yoga series. Annoyingly, HP also decided to go with a physical Windows button on the side, even though the screen's bottom bezel offers ample space for a digital Windows button.

But if there's one other thing to say about the Pavilion x360, it's nice and solid. I never encountered the slightest bit of flex, a typical problem for machines with cheap, creaky plastic frames. This is largely thanks to HP's inclusion of a large metal plate that acts as the laptop's keyboard deck. I can also happily say the keyboard is excellent with a springy actuation and 1.5 mm of travel on each key.

HP Pavilion x360 2015

Bumped-up specs

The external body work wasn't the only thing HP improved upon. Nearly every part of the Pavilion x360 configuration has been improved, including bumping up screen resolution from 1366 x 768 to a Full HD panel. Similarly, the Celeron of yore has been upgraded to a new 5th-generation Intel Pentium N3700 chip. For $409 (about £273, AU$530), this laptop also comes equipped with a 500GB HDD and 4GB of memory.

Users will also be able to configure the 11.6-inch HP Pavilion x360 with a fanless Intel Core M chip for $499 (about £334, AU$646), which HP promises will deliver eight hours of battery life. Lastly, users looking for more screen real estate can invest in a 13.3-inch model for $529 (about £354, AU$681) that comes outfitted with an Intel Core i3 processor.

HP Pavilion x360 2015

Early verdict

The HP Pavilion x360 is looking like a sweet deal for users who want an affordable machine that can be more than just a laptop. It's not the prettiest or lightest convertible around, but HP has worked hard to make an appealing budget system.

The 11.6-inch model easily sits next to HP's most affordable $199 (£189, AU$299) Windows laptop, the Stream. Though you're paying double the price for the convertible option, it comes packing a lot more power with an Intel Celeron processor and a gorgeous display. That's a pretty nifty deal even put next to some very affordable Chromebook options.

The HP Pavilion x360 is a solid system both in person and on paper, but I'll have to really put it through its paces before I can give the final verdict on this affordable 2-in-1 laptop. The HP Pavilion x360 will be available starting May 13 and until then, keep an eye out for my full review.

What is a hands on review?

'Hands on reviews' are a journalist's first impressions of a piece of kit based on spending some time with it. It may be just a few moments, or a few hours. The important thing is we have been able to play with it ourselves and can give you some sense of what it's like to use, even if it's only an embryonic view. For more information, see TechRadar's Reviews Guarantee.

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