Attractive design; Slick laptop to tablet conversion; Rich, Beats-branded audio
Short battery life; Display has visible gridlines and narrow viewing angles; Below-average performance
The HP Envy x360 is a flexible, 15-inch convertible hampered by a lackluster screen and weak battery life.
Convertible notebooks are getting larger and larger. The latest 15-inch laptop that flips into a tablet, the HP Envy x360 15t Touch, joins similarly sized systems from Lenovo and Toshiba. Starting at $680 ($770 as tested), the Envy x360 15t features an Intel Core i5 processor and a 1080p touch screen, but how well does it stack up to the competition? And how practical is a 15-inch convertible, anyway?
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At first glance, the Envy x360 looks like any other notebook, but upon closer inspection, the heavy-duty hinges hint at the x360's hidden potential. Like the smaller, 11.6-inch x360, this 15-inch version's screen can rotate all the way around to set up tablet mode.
The Envy x360 comes clad all in silver. A shiny HP logo adorns the plastic lid, while inside, the aluminum palm-rest carries on the silvery theme, with the support of a silver plastic bottom. Only the black, plastic bezel surrounding the 15.6-inch display breaks the silvery pattern.
The hinge feels sturdy, and even with the Envy x360's hefty 5.2-pound weight, the screen is secure in almost any position you can manage. The downside is that flipping the screen all the way around can be quite cumbersome due to the weight, stiff hinge and large size.
Unfortunately, HP places the power button on the left side instead of above the keyboard. I like that the left edge houses a volume rocker, however, something I wish more-traditional notebooks would feature.
At 5.2 pounds, the 15.11 x 10.18 x 0.93-inch Envy x360 sits between the Toshiba Satellite Radius P55W (4.8 pounds and 15 x 9.7 x 0.75 inches) and the Lenovo Flex 2 15 (5.6 pounds and 15.04 x 10.87 x 1.06) in terms of both size and weight.
Keyboard and Touchpad
While the textured Control Zones work well, my finger sometimes strayed into these areas by accident during normal mouse movements (like right-clicking). If you're not a fan of Control Zones, you can disable this feature from the Windows Control Panel. Plus, you can still use the touch screen for gesture control.
Worse, the capacitive touch digitizer was visible, appearing as a series of vertical pinstripes burnt into the screen. The screen also has very narrow viewing angles; even just 20 degrees up or down can wash out images. This seems like a big misstep for a convertible that will spend at least some time in tablet mode.
The Envy x360's panel isn't very bright, producing 214 nits on the light meter. That's more than the Lenovo Flex 2 (200 nits), but less than both the Toshiba Satellite Radius (217 nits) and the mainstream average (253 nits).
Color reproduction was just passable, with the Envy x360's display producing 82.9 percent of the RGB spectrum. This is much better than the Lenovo Flex 2 (56 percent) and the category average of 76.5 percent, but less than the Toshiba Satellite Radius (95 percent).
What about color accuracy? Meh. The Envy x360's Delta-E rating of 5.4 (closer to 0 is better) beats the Lenovo Flex 2 (Delta-E of 9) and the category average (7.8), but falls short of the Toshiba Satellite Radius (Delta-E of 2).
On the plus side, touch performance in both laptop and tablet modes was swift and accurate. Playing Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft in tablet mode was a joy, providing an experience superior even to the standard mouse control.
The Beats Audio software allows you to customize your EQ, and provides presets for Beats-branded headphones. You'll have to create your own settings for games, as the only presets are music, voice and 3D movie.
The Envy x360 produced just 81 decibels on the Laptop Mag Audio test, compared to the louder Lenovo Flex 2 (94 dB) and Toshiba Satellite Radius (89 dB). It also fell short of the mainstream average (85 dB).
With its multiple heat vents, the HP Envy x360 15t had no trouble staying cool under pressure. On the Laptop Mag heat test (15 minutes of streaming 1080p video from Hulu), the hottest spot on the underside of the notebook was just 85 degrees Fahrenheit. The touchpad was a chilly 76 degrees, while the space between the G and H keys measured just 82 degrees. All of these temps fall within the Laptop Mag 95-degree comfort threshold.
Ports and Webcam
Photos from the HP True Vision HD Webcam looked soft and blurry, with some heavy vignetting (loss of brightness around the edges) as well.
On Geekbench 3, which measures overall system performance, the Envy x360 scored 4,925. This was behind the $600 Lenovo Flex 2's score of 5,176 (1.7 GHz Intel Core-i5 and 6GB of RAM), the $899 Toshiba Satellite Radius' mark of 6,021 (2 GHz Intel Core-i7 and 8GB of RAM) and the mainstream average of 8,476.
We then used Open Office to match 20,000 names and addresses, with the Envy x360 completing the test in 5:09. This is just barely faster than the Lenovo Flex 2 (5:12), but slower than the Core-i7-powered Toshiba Satellite Radius (4:23).
The x360 relies on its integrated Intel HD Graphics 4400 for gaming, which means you can enjoy more-casual fare like Hearthstone or even League of Legends at lower settings.
Playing World of Warcraft at 1080p and auto settings, the Envy x360 managed just 25 frames per second. This is below the Laptop Mag playability threshold of 30 fps, similar to the Lenovo Flex 2's mark of 26 fps, but below the Toshiba Satellite Radius' showing of 35 fps.
On the 3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited synthetic graphics benchmark, the Envy x360 scored 39,210. This is lower than the Lenovo Flex 2 (41,058) and the Toshiba Satellite Radius (51,732), as well as the mainstream average of 58,954.
The $680 starting price for the HP Envy x360 15t Touch gets you an Intel Core-i5 4210U CPU; 6GB of RAM; a 500 GB hard drive; and a 15.6-inch, 1366 x 768 display. Our $770 review unit features a $40 upgrade to 8GB of RAM and a $50 upgrade to a 1920 x 1080 display.
You can also upgrade to a Core-i7-4510U CPU, 8GB of RAM and a 1 TB hard drive. Additionally, you can add a wide range of accessories and additional software. But for the best value, the only upgrades worth considering are the extra RAM and higher-res display, though the picture still won't wow.
Software and Warranty
Upon firing up the system for the first time, I was greeted with notifications letting me know Farmville 2 had been updated, a message I continued to receive after almost every restart. The HP software suite of HP Connected Photo, HP Connected Music and HP Connected Drive are useful, but hide the fact that they are mostly just portals to other services, like Snapfish and Facebook for photo syncing, TuneIn Radio, and Beats Music for songs.
Other pre-installed software includes the Cyberlink suite for playing DVDs (despite the lack of an optical drive), a trial for Microsoft Office, Evernote with 3 months of premium service, and the maddening Pokki start menu. The Pokki app is especially frustrating because, while it provides a useful replacement for the Windows 7 start menu, it is also the source of the Farmville installation and suggests downloads of other bloatware.
|CPU||1.7 GHz Intel Core i5-4210U Dual Core Processor|
|Operating System||Windows 8.1|
|RAM Upgradable to||8GB|
|Hard Drive Size||500GB|
|Hard Drive Speed||5,400rpm|
|Hard Drive Type||Serial ATA|
|Secondary Hard Drive Size|
|Secondary Hard Drive Speed|
|Secondary Hard Drive Type|
|Optical Drive Speed|
|Graphics Card||Intel HD Graphics 4400|
|Wi-Fi Model||Qualcomm Atheros QCA9565|
|Touchpad Size||5.5 x 2.6 inches|
|Ports (excluding USB)||SD card slot|
|Ports (excluding USB)||RJ-45|
|Ports (excluding USB)||Headphone/Mic|
|Ports (excluding USB)||HDMI|
|Ports (excluding USB)||USB 3.0|
|Ports (excluding USB)||USB 2.0|
|Card Slots||SD/SDHC Card reader|
|Warranty/Support||1-year limited hardware warranty|
|Size||15.11 x 10.18 x 0.93|