I often hate business laptops, because they're so clunky. But HP's latest business 2-in-1, the EliteBook x360 1020 G2 ($1,379 to start; $1,599 as tested), is streamlined and sleek -- the type of laptop I could be seen carrying anywhere. And I would, too, if the battery life were longer. But the speakers are awesome and the keyboard is punchy, so anyone who wants a stylish business notebook should keep this EliteBook in mind.
Design: Make It Work
The EliteBook x360 1020 G2 looks so good that you'll definitely want to show it off around the office, and it's light enough that you'll have no problem doing just that. The design is reminiscent of HP's Spectre premium consumer line, with an aluminum lid and a reflective HP logo.
When you open the EliteBook, you'll find the full-HD display, with a thick bezel on the top and bottom. The deck, also silver and aluminum, is punctuated with speaker grates above the keyboard made of lines that form triangles and diamonds.
Most notably, the EliteBook is really sleek. It's just 2.5 pounds and 0.5 inches thick. Both the Lenovo ThinkPad X270 (3 pounds, 0.8 inches thick) and the Dell Latitude 7389 2-in-1 (3 pounds, 0.7 inches thick) are larger. The 12-inch Apple MacBook (2 pounds, 0.5 inches) is even lighter.
The EliteBook might be a bit short on ports for the average office dweller, though. The right side of the laptop boasts a pair of Thunderbolt 3 ports (you'll need one to charge the machine) and an HDMI output. The left side has just a headphone jack and a lock slot.
Durability and Security
Not that you should knock your EliteBook around, but if you do, it will probably be fine. It's MIL-STD-810G tested to withstand drops, shocks, dust and more.
The EliteBook x360 1020 G2 should also keep your data secure. It uses Windows Hello in combination with both a fingerprint reader and an infrared camera, so you have your choice of login options. The computer uses TPM to encrypt your biometric data. Our model also included vPro for remote management.
The included HP Client Security app walks you through the device's security features and helps you set them up.
The 12.5-inch 1080p display on the EliteBook x360 1020 G2 is great. It's bright and produces vivid colors -- perfect for when you're watching YouTube videos instead of working on spreadsheets. (You know who you are.) When I watched an FHD trailer for Black Panther, Shuri's white dress stood out when she was in front of Black Panther prototype costumes, and the Dora Milaje's red outfits were vibrant in scenes both indoors and outdoors.
On our light meter, the panel measured an average of 335 nits, easily brighter than the ultraportable average (285 nits), the Lenovo ThinkPad X270 (298 nits) and the Dell Latitude 7389 2-in-1 (308 nits). Only the MacBook was more luminous, at 340 nits.
But nothing was as vivid as the EliteBook. It reproduced 125 percent of the sRGB color gamut, which is higher than the average (103 percent), as well as the scores from the ThinkPad X270 (88 percent), the Latitude (116 percent) and the MacBook (117 percent).
You can also get the EliteBook x360 1020 G2 with HP's SureView privacy screen. One we tested measured 632 nits, but it didn't look that bright -- I suspect that the coating used for the privacy screen affected our readings. With the screen off, it measured 315 nits and covered 113 percent of the sRGB color gamut.
Keyboard, Touchpad and Stylus
If you're going to have a low-travel keyboard, it'd better be punchy. While the EliteBook's keys have just 1.2 millimeters of travel, they require 80 grams of actuation to press, so they pop back up as soon as you push them down, creating a surprisingly tactile experience. On the 10fastfingers.com typing test, I reached 107 words per minute (which is average for me) with my standard 2 percent error rate, and that was with a Band-Aid on my left index finger.
Additionally, the keyboard has a bunch of business-specific shortcuts on the function row, such as options to pick up and hang up calls and to share screens in Skype.
The 3.9 x 2.3-inch touchpad is just big enough. While I occasionally found my fingertips skirting the edges, my browsing was never affected, and it always responded perfectly to two-finger scrolls and Windows' myriad of three- and four-finger gestures.
The optional $60 HP Active Pen is slightly heavier than I'd like, but I quickly adjusted. I appreciate the extra button on the end of the stylus, but I wish I could use it as an eraser, like Microsoft's Surface Pen. It offers 2,048 degrees of pressure sensitivity, and I had no issues with palm rejection while sketching with the laptop in tablet mode.
Working with Bang & Olufsen continues to be one of the best decisions HP has ever made. The speakers are loud, and they are awesome. When I played Dua Lipa's "New Rules," the bass, vocals, keyboards and drums were all clear, and the sound filled our midsize conference room.
I found that the default audio was good enough, but if you want to change things up, you can use the Bang & Olufsen app's presets that focus on different genres. Club bumped up the bass, and Pop put more emphasis on the vocals and keyboards, but I found that the default was the best option.
The EliteBook x360 1020 G2 comes armed with an Intel Core i5-7300U CPU, a 256GB SSD and 8GB of RAM. That's enough for multitasking; I had 20 tabs open in Chrome, including one streaming a 1080p episode of "Late Night with Seth Meyers," and didn't run into any hiccups.
On Geekbench 4, the laptop earned a score of 8,158, which is higher than the ultraportable average (7,888), as well as the marks from the Apple MacBook (6,853, Core m3) and the Lenovo ThinkPad X270 (8,068, Core i7-7600U), but lower than the Dell Latitude 7389 2-in-1 (8,631, Core i7-7600U).
HP's business laptop took 18 seconds to transfer 4.97GB worth of files, for a rate of 282.7 megabytes per second. That's speedier than the average (226.1 MBps) and the Latitude (267.9 MBps). But the ThinkPad X270 was faster (299 fps), and the MacBook (467 MBps) left the rest of the field in the dust.
The EliteBook spent 3 minutes and 35 seconds on the OpenOffice spreadsheet macro test, which pairs 20,000 names and addresses. That's better than the average (5:32) and the ThinkPad X270 (4:06), but both the Latitude (3:14) and the MacBook (3:02) completed the task more quickly.
The EliteBook and its integrated graphics scored 75,628 on the 3DMark Ice Storm graphics test. While that score is above the average (60,100) and the showings from the ThinkPad (70,482), it's still not a powerhouse (and neither is the Latitude, which turned in a higher score of 77,225). That will allow for very modest video editing, but if you're looking to play intensive games or edit movies, you'll need a different kind of machine.
The EliteBook's battery will just squeeze you through a day of work, but it won't necessarily last into overtime. It endured for 7 hours and 59 minutes on the Laptop Mag Battery Test, which consists of web surfing over Wi-Fi. That's slightly below the average of 8:12, and well behind the Dell Latitude 7389 2-in-1 (8:59) and the MacBook (9:29). The Lenovo ThinkPad X270 had shorter battery life (6:44), though you can boost it with an external battery (13:51).
A separate model that we tested with a SureView privacy screen lasted just 4 hours and 26 minutes.
If you videoconference often, get an external webcam. Shots I took at my desk with the 720p webcam came out blurry.
The photo was color accurate, but that didn't matter because my beard looked less like facial hair and more like I had dove face-first into a chocolate cake. Lights were blown out, and the whole thing was out of focus.
For the most part, the EliteBook will stay cool in the boardroom or on personal time. After streaming 15 minutes of HD video from YouTube, it measured 78 degrees Fahrenheit on the touchpad, 84 degrees at the center of the keyboard and 91 degrees on the bottom. By the hinge on the bottom of the case, it reached 93 degrees. All of those temperature are below our 95-degree comfort threshold.
But even when I just let the laptop sit closed, when I picked it up, the bottom by the vents felt noticeably warm.
Software and Warranty
HP is light on its own software on the EliteBook. It comes with HP JumpStart, which gives you tips to get started with your laptop, and PhoneWise, a utility to share emails, phone calls and text messages from your smartphone to the laptop. If you're on Android, it works seamlessly, but iOS users need to leave their phone on with the app open to reap the benefits.
Otherwise, these come with the same bloat that other Windows 10 laptops have, including Candy Crush Soda Saga, Bubble Witch 3 Saga, Disney Magic Kingdoms, Hidden City: Hidden Object Adventures, March of Empires: War of Lords and Drawboard PDF.
The HP EliteBook x360 1020 G2 we reviewed costs $1,724.86 and includes an Intel Core i5-7300U CPU, a 256GB SSD and 8GB of RAM.
The base model costs $1,379 with a Core i5-7200U CPU, 8GB of RAM and a 128GB SSD. The maxed-out model costs $2,049 with a Core i7-7600U CPU, 16GB of RAM and a 512GB PCIe SSD.
If you told me the EliteBook x360 was a high-end ultraportable that wasn't for business, I'd believe you. That's how good it looks. And, for the most part, it works well, too, with a bright display, awesome speakers and a great low-travel keyboard.
But the battery life, which is just shy of 8 hours on a model without the privacy screen, holds it back. The Dell Latitude 7389 2-in-1 lasted 8:59, and if you're OK with a MacBook Pro, you can get 9:29 of juice. The Latitude's screen is dimmer, however.
But if you want style and portability, the HP EliteBook x360 1020 G2 will turn heads and help you get work done.
Credit: Shaun Lucas/Laptop Mag