HP EliteBook x360 1030 G2
The hard-working executive’s dream machine, with a fine balance between power and portability
SCORE ✪✪✪✪✪ PRICE £1,149 (£1,379 inc VAT) from store.hp.com
It might seem presumptuous to call your premium laptop line EliteBooks, but HP’s EliteBook x360 lives up to the name. All straight edges and bevelled corners, milled from CNC aluminium, it’s a seriously beautiful device: slim and light enough to take with you anywhere and everywhere, but built like the proverbial brick outhouse. It’s exactly the kind of laptop you’d want if you spend time travelling or working between sites – but the price means only executives will get the chance.
This is also very much a business laptop, in which case having a 2-in-1 convertible might seem a frippery. In fact it makes perfect sense. With the optional active pen you have a great surface for quick sketches and meeting notes, while putting the 13.3in touchscreen in a stand or tent mode works for ad hoc presentations and other client-facing apps. And when you need to create those presentations or edit spreadsheets and reports, there’s a large, backlit keyboard and a good-sized screen to work with.
The keyboard is particularly impressive. There’s no give in that solid aluminium base, and the keys combine a short travel and snappy action to help you maximise your typing speed. It’s great to see touches such as the tiny extra function keys for opening your Outlook calendar or picking up and ending voice and video calls. The EliteBook’s trackpad isn’t a letdown, either; it’s glassy-smooth and unerringly responsive. The x360 also packs in some great security features, including HP’s SureStart BIOS protection and a choice of sign-in options. HP hasn’t squirrelled its fingerprint scanner away, making it easy to find just below the keyboard, and if you prefer a hands-free approach, you can sign in with your face using the built-in Windows Hello camera. You can also order this model with an integrated privacy screen, stopping anyone sitting to the side from being nosy. When it comes to connectivity, 2-in-1 convertibles have the edge over the Surfacestyle tablet hybrids. With a little more room to play with, the EliteBook x360 can cram in a USB-C and two USB 3 ports, an HDMI port, a headphone/ microphone socket and a microSD card slot. The 720p webcam and built-in microphone array also make this an effective conferencing tool for Skype for Business. Our review model came with a Full HD screen – you’ll have to pay even more for one with a UHD display – but that’s not a massive drawback for business users on a screen this size. It
“It’s a seriously beautiful device, slim and light enough to take with you anywhere but built like the proverbial brick outhouse”
wasn’t a particularly strong performer in our tests. We measured brightness at a mid-range 287cd/m², an average Delta E of 2.55cd/m² shows that out-of-the-box colour accuracy isn’t spectacular, and it’s only capable of showing 81.7% of the SRGB gamut – this isn’t a screen for photo editors.
But, viewed subjectively in normal lighting, we were quite happy with its overall image quality, and if you fancy some after-hours film-watching then note the impressive Bang & Olufsen-branded speakers: these deliver a big sound for a thin-and-light laptop, with a detailed high-end and more bass than you might expect.
Given the high-end style and premium pricing of this laptop, its spec, based around a Kaby Lake Core i5-7200U processor and 8GB of RAM, might seem underwhelming. As you can see elsewhere, though, a Core i7 is no guarantee of high performance, and the x360 holds its own with all but the fastest laptops on test, with a benchmark score of 49. It’s a shame that the storage options top out at a 256GB SSD, but that’s adequate for most applications and you can plug in an external drive for desk-bound work.
Meanwhile, battery life is exemplary, with the EliteBook x360 managing nearly ten-and-a-half hours of video streaming, beaten only by the Surface Laptop and Surface Pro. This completes the picture of a hardworking laptop that’s both practical and beautiful. If you can afford it, the x360 is a hard convertible to beat.
LEFT The EliteBook’s tent mode is handy for ad-hoc presentations and showing off clientfacing apps
LEFT The x360 crams in a USB-C, HDMI and two USB 3 ports, plus a microSD card slot
ABOVE HP’s EliteBook lives up to its name, combining good looks with practicality