Business laptops typically reflect the corporate market they're built for: They're inoffensive and just a tad boring. But it doesn't have to be this way. HP's new EliteBook x360 G2 is proof that your work laptop should be no less sleek, comfortable or powerful than anything you would use at home. The laptop ($1,249 to start; $1,899 as tested) combines looks, performance (including a U-series Intel Core i7 CPU), a standout keyboard and a wide array of security features in a package that's so sexy that no one will believe you actually got it from work.
HP's winning streak with premium design continues with the EliteBook x360 G2, which is the most stunning business machine I've ever seen. The silver, aluminum unibody laptop uses the company's modern logo found only on its top-of-the-line machines. Lifting the lid shows off the 13.3-inch, 1080p touch screen; backlit keyboard; and shiny, diamond cut around the touchpad and fingerprint reader.
The 360-degree hinges allow the EliteBook to be used in several modes, including as a laptop, a tablet, a tent (an upside-down "V") and a display (with the keyboard facing down).
The 2.8-pound, 12.5 x 8.6 x 0.6-inch EliteBook cuts a striking profile. It's smaller than the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga (2.8 pounds, 13.1 x 9 x 0.7 inches) and only slightly thicker than the consumer-grade HP Spectre x360 (2.9 pounds, 12 x 8.6 x 0.5 inches). The Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 is smaller, at 2.7 pounds and 12 x 7.8 x 0.5 inches.
The sides of the laptop have enough ports to support a small cache of peripherals. The right side houses a USB 3.0 port, a headphone jack and a smart-card reader. On the left, you'll find a microSD card slot, Thunderbolt 3, a Kensington lock slot, HDMI output, another USB 3.0 port and the power jack.
I find the traditional power jack to be a curious choice, as another Thunderbolt 3 port or a USB Type-C port would have allowed for charging but also more flexibility for other peripherals. HP likely kept this traditional jack to appease IT departments that have likely stockpiled similar power bricks.
Security, Privacy and Durability
The EliteBook x360 is jam-packed with security options. Any organization can customize this 2-in-1 to fit its IT policy. You can use the fingerprint reader and infrared camera with Windows Hello, and I happen to be a fan of facial-recognition login. If you prefer a nonbiometric way of logging in, you can use the smart-Card reader.This system also supports vPro for remote management, and TPM to encrypt your biometric data. Whenever you reboot your computer, HP SureStart kicks in, verifying the BIOS and self-healing if there are any issues.
Certain configurations of the EliteBook x360 have HP's Sure View technology, which lets you turn on an integrated privacy screen with the push of a button. I got to see the feature on a pre-production laptop, and it really works: From the side of the laptop (as you would be, for example, if you were on an airplane or a bus), it's almost impossible to make out what's on the display -- a feature that should ward off potential snoops.
Additionally, HP's WorkWise app makes sure to lock your PC when you're away, and it will detect tampering and send a notification to your phone if someone opens or closes the lid, inserts a USB drive or even moves the laptop.
The EliteBook is also durable, with MIL-STD-810G certification. It's designed to survive shocks, drops and extreme temperatures.
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The EliteBook's display produces vivid colors, but the screen isn't very bright. When I watched the trailer for Spider-Man: Homecoming, I had to pump up the brightness all the way, and I still had trouble making out the dark green in the Vulture's suit. The picture was sharp, though, and I could see the stitching in Spider-Man's costume. When I watched the same trailer on a model with a SureView privacy screen turned on, the trailer had a foggy quality to it, though bright colors like the red and blue in Spidey's suit and the Vulture's bright green eyes still shined through. You wouldn't use the privacy screen to watch a movie though -- you'd use it for work.
The EliteBook reproduces 109 percent of the sRGB color gamut, which is more than the ultraportable average (98 percent), the Spectre x360 (102 percent), the ThinkPad X1 Yoga (102 percent) and the XPS 13 2-in-1 (107 percent). On a model with the privacy screen turned on, the EliteBook only covered 76.9 percent of the gamut.
With a Delta-E score of 0.6 (0 is ideal), the EliteBook's panel produces very accurate colors. On the SureView model, it was 0.4. The average is 2.46, the Yoga was worse (1) and the XPS 13 2-in-1 was far less precise (6.1). Only the Spectre x360 came close, with a score 0.7.
However, with a brightness of 239 nits,the EliteBook isn't as bright as other 2-in-1s. The average is 300 nits, and the XPS 13 2-in-1 and the X1 Yoga were brighter than this HP. Our SureView screen was brighter, though, at 323 nits.
The SureView privacy screen works surprisingly well. With the press of a button (F2, to be precise), the display appears completely white to anyone trying to sneak a peek at what you're looking on. From straight on, you can still see everything, although with a slightly foggy quality. It's still good enough to see some writing, web browsing or spreadsheets.
From 45 degrees, the screen is difficult to read. From 70 degrees, it's impossible. Someone sitting next to you on a plane or a bus will have no idea what you're working on. It's truly impressive, and better than the implementation we saw on some HP notebooks last year.
Keyboard, Touchpad and Stylus
I was pleasantly surprised by the keyboard on the EliteBook. Despite just 1.2 millimeters of travel and 65 grams of force required to press the keys, the keyboard doesn't feel shallow. It's clicky and responsive, and I never bottomed out. On the 10fastfingers.com typing test, I sped along at 122 words per minute (faster than my usual 117 wpm, and that's on a good day) and standard 2 percent error rate.
Besides the usual shortcuts, like changing the volume and brightness, there are a few keys on the function row specifically for business. There are dedicated keys to answer and hang up on Skype for Business calls, as well as a button that goes straight to your Outlook calendar. I found these particularly useful, and I am hoping more companies add this functionality to their laptops soon.
The 4.3 x 2.6-inch precision touchpad is smooth and accurate, and I could perform gestures such as tapping four fingers to summon the Action Center and pinching to zoom easily and reliably. Initially, I thought the trackpad was a bit too stiff to click, but I got used to it quickly.
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HP also includes a stylus in the box, which is a nice touch, as well as two holders: one that slides into the Smart-Card reader if you're not using it, and another that attaches to the deck with an adhesive. I prefer the Smart-Card option, and I'm not sure I'd ever use the sticky one.
The stylus itself offers 2,048 degrees of pressure sensitivity and feels natural to hold. I used it in Windows Ink and appreciated that the EliteBook didn't mistake my leaning wrist for input. I brought it over to an illustrator, who told me that the pressure sensitivity was fantastic, though he thought the stylus was on the heavy site.
You can use the Wacom Pen app to customize the buttons on the top and the barrel, including opening different sketching apps and serving as different mouse buttons.
HP has partnered with Bang & Olufsen again to tune the company's speakers, and they're a bit of a mixed bag. When I listened to White Rabbits' "Percussion Gun," the vocals, choral chanting and namesake drums were all balanced, but I found the sound to be quiet for my taste. It only just filled up our midsize conference room.
When I boosted the audio up most of the way, the vocals became a bit shrieky on the high end. The Bang & Olufsen Audio app has an equalizer that you can customize, but there are no easy presets to help make adjustments.
Armed with a 2.8-GHz Intel Core i7-7600U CPU, 16GB of RAM and a 512GB PCIe solid-state drive, the EliteBook is more than prepared for a cornucopia of research and spreadsheets. I had 30 tabs open in Google Chrome, including one streaming a 1080p episode of "The Daily Show with Trevor Noah," from YouTube, and I saw no sign of slowdown (although the vents started going off).
On the Geekbench 4 overall performance test, the EliteBook x360 earned a score of 8,873, beating the ultraportable category average (7,147), the Spectre x360 (Core i7-7500U; 8,147) and the Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 (1.2-GHz Core i5-7Y54; 6,498).
It took the EliteBook x360 17 seconds to copy 4.97GB of mixed media files, which translates to 299.4 megabytes per second. That's faster than the category average (187.4 MBps), the XPS 13 2-in-1 (187 MBps) and the ThinkPad X1 Yoga (186.23 MBps), but a bit slower than the consumer-centric Spectre x360 (318.1 MBps).
On our OpenOffice Spreadsheet macro, the EliteBook x360 took 3 minutes and 16 seconds to pair 20,000 names and addresses, handily beating the average (6:01) as well as the ThinkPad X1 Yoga (4:31), the XPS 13 2-in-1 (4:14) and the Spectre x360 (3:33).
With its integrated Intel HD Graphics 620, the EliteBook x360 isn't a strong graphics performer. It ran the Dirt 3 benchmark at just 21 frames per second, tying the XPS 13 but falling below the average (33 fps) and our 30-fps playability threshold. The Spectre outperformed the field, at 40 fps, even though the EliteBook, Spectre and the XPS all share the same integrated graphics.
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The EliteBook should last you through most (if not all) of your workday. This 2-in-1 endured for 9 hours and 17 minutes on the Laptop Mag Battery Test, handily beating the 8:13 ultraportable average.
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The XPS 13 lasted 8:27, and the X1 Yoga survived for 8:28. Again, HP's consumer laptop came out on top, with an astounding 10:06.
We ran the same test on another EliteBook x360 with the SureView privacy screen on the entire time, and it takes a toll. That version lasted 7 hours and 30 minutes.
The EliteBook's 720p webcam takes vivid photos that are just sharp enough. In a shot I took at my desk, my red sweater really popped against the white walls in our office, and you could just make out individual hairs on my head. But the lights behind me were completely blown out, which was distracting.
If you're sweating and approaching a hard deadline, the EliteBook will still be cool and collected. It stayed nice and comfortable after we streamed HD video from YouTube for 15 minutes; it measured 77 degrees on the touchpad, 83 degrees at the center of the keyboard and 86 degrees on the bottom. At one point near the hinge, it reached 94 degrees, but that's still lower than our 95-degree comfort threshold.
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Software and Warranty
The EliteBook comes with a standard software suite preinstalled, with a few HP apps and some bloatware native to Windows 10.
HP JumpStart makes it easy to register your laptop and download free software. If you pair the EliteBook with the WorkWise mobile app, you'll be able to check your PC's battery life, temperature, and remaining RAM and storage space from afar.
The Windows 10 bloat includes Facebook, Twitter, Minecraft, Candy Crush Soda Saga and Sling.
Warranties for the EliteBook x360 range from one to three years based on the configuration you buy. See how HP fared in our Tech Support Showdown and Best and Words Brands reports.
The EliteBook x360 we reviewed costs $1,910 and rocks a 2.8-GHz Intel Core i7-7600U CPU, 16GB of RAM, a 512GB PCIe SSD and a 1080p display.
The base model is $1,239 and has an Intel Core i5-7200U CPU, 8GB of RAM and a 128GB SATA SSD.
In between, there are a variety of options, including a Core i5-7300U CPU and a 256GB SSD (both SATA and PCIe options). If you want to add HP's Sure View privacy screen to any configuration, it will cost an extra $50.
The HP EliteBook x360 G2 is the business laptop that I wish my company would issue. It's beautifully designed, has a great keyboard for typing on the go, and battery life that will last throughout the workday. While I'd be unlikely to use all of the 2-in-1 modes on a day-to-day basis, it's nice to have the option.
If you don't need all of the security features or the keyboard shortcuts, consider HP's premium consumer laptop, the Spectre x360 (starting at $1,149). It's an amazing laptop with a brighter screen, but it doesn't have an SD card slot.
But if you want the best business 2-in-1 out there with features primed for the workplace, the HP EliteBook x360 G2 -- one of the best Surface Pro alternatives -- is a superior choice.