The HP Pavilion x360 is so much faster than other budget 2-in-1s that it's almost not a fair fight. For $449, you get a powerful Intel Core M processor and solid battery life in a highly flexible design. Most other systems in this class make due a slower Pentium CPU. However, a couple of issues keep this convertible from rising to the ranks of an Editors' Choice pick.
Design: Looks Familiar
The Pavilion x360's rounded edges and black plastic interior remind us of a smaller Dell XPS 13, which is not a bad thing. We appreciate the sturdy hinges, which enable the x360 to change modes. Although Natural Silver is the default color, HP's hybrid is also available in Sunset Red or Minty Green. However, both palette swaps will cost an additional $10.
Weighing 3.2 pounds, the 12.05 x 8.19 x 0.89-inch x360 is heavier and thicker than other budget 2-in-1s we've tested. For example, the 3.1-pound Dell Inspiron 11 3000 has a smaller, 11.8 x 7.9-inch footprint and is a thinner 0.74 inches, whereas the Lenovo Flex 3 11 is 3 pounds and measures 11.8 x 8.2 x 0.86 inches.
For a 2-in-1, the x360 is pretty generous with ports, placing two USB 3.0 ports on the right side with a full HDMI port, an expandable Ethernet port, jacks for a headset and the power cord and a Windows button. On the left, you'll find a single USB 2.0 port with an SD card reader, a secure lock slot and a button for power and volume.
HP's hybrid has a full-size island-style keyboard that is well spaced with decent feedback. Although it has the same key travel as the Inspiron 11 3000 (1.5 millimeters), the Dell delivered the best feedback with an actuation force of 60 grams, compared to 55g (higher is better). Still, I hit my usual 60 words per minute on the 10FastFingers Typing Test on the x360.
The x360's 3.75 x 2.2-inch touchpad is a tad small compared with the Inspiron 11's 4.1 x 2.4-inch pad, but it gets the job done. The two input devices were equally matched in terms of responsiveness and accuracy for navigating Web pages and performing gestures such as pinch-zoom, two-finger scroll and rotate.
Multi-Mode: Relatively Seamless Transitions
The Pavilion x360 isn't new to the growing market of shapeshifting laptops. Similar to the Lenovo Yoga series, the x360 employs a pair of 360-degree hinges that allow the notebook to contort into four useful forms with a smooth folding action: laptop, tablet, tent and stand.
Folding the keyboard portion of the laptop backward onto the lid puts you in tablet mode, while bending both ends of the laptop creates Tent mode. Placing the keyboard keys down and pushing the display back slightly, you'll enter Stand mode. Similar to other convertibles, Tent and Stand modes are useful for viewing content in tight spaces or sharing movies or slideshows with others.
When switching between Laptop and Tablet modes in Windows 10, you'll receive a prompt asking if you want to enable/disable Tablet mode. Once you make your selection, it takes the display 2 seconds to reorient itself.
Audio and Display: Plenty of Oomph, Needs More Color
The x360 might be a budget 2-in-1, but its audio is anything but. Fresh off of HP's new partnership with Band & Olufsen, the x360 is one of the first laptops to feature the new B&O Play software. Comprised of a graphic equalizer and three sliders for Music, Voice and Movie, the software optimizes the sound coming from the pair of bottom-mounted speakers.
As a result, the small, 11.6-inch hybrid has no difficulties filling up a large room with clear, robust sound. During the Suicide Squad trailer, I could hear Viola Davis' knife slice through her juicy steak that ended with a loud clink when the cutlery connected with the dinner plate.
The Pavilion x360's 11.6-inch 1366 x 768 touch screen provides plenty of detail but muted color. I could easily make out the delicate leather pattern in Killer Croc's jacket in the 1080p Suicide Squad trailer. However, placing the HP next to the Dell Inspiron 11 3000 elicited several shoulda, coulda, wouldas.
Croc's countenance took on a yellow-grayish pall on the x360, but on the Inspiron 11 there was an injection of green and brown that made the supervillain more lifelike and disturbing.
The proof is in the numbers pudding. When measured for brightness, the x360 averaged 227 nits, just below the 234-nit budget convertible average. The Inspiron 11 3000, on the other hand, was our top performer at 308 nits. On the gamut test, which measures color reproduction, the x360 hit 69 percent, barely beating the 68 percent average. Once again, the Inspiron 11 came out on top with 81.4 percent.
Performance: Behold the Power of Core M
The HP Pavilion x360 is the first budget 2-in-1 we've tested powered by Intel's Core M processor, which runs circles around Pentium-powered portables. The convertible's dual-core 1.9-GHz Intel M-Y510c CPU, 4GB of RAM, and 128GB SSD flexed its muscles during my real-world multitasking test, streaming an episode of BoJack Horseman while running a system scan with seven open tabs in Google Chrome.
On the synthetic Geekbench 3 test, the HP produced a score of 3,992. Only the Asus TP300 (1.9-GHz Intel Core i3-4030U CPU) came close, with a score of 3,922, while the Dell Inspiron 11 3000 (2.2-GHz Intel Pentium N3540 CPU) produced 3,406.
The x360 consistently topped the charts in all other tests, including hard drive speed (82 MBps on file transfer) and graphics (23,664 on 3DMark). It took the hybrid only 25.9 seconds to open a 64MB Word document with images of varying sizes, handily beating the 44.2-second average. The Core i3-powered Asus TP300 came in second at 34.9 seconds, while the Pentium-powered Inspiron 11 turned finished in 42.6 seconds.
MORE: Best HP Laptops
In terms of gaming, the x360's integrated Intel HD Graphics achieved 27 frames per minute on the World of Warcraft benchmark. That's slightly below the Laptop Mag 30 fps playability threshold, but it handily beat all other competitors.
One of the supposed benefits of Core M is that the laptop doesn't need a fan, but the Pavilion x360 could use one. After playing an HD video for 15 minutes, the bottom of the hybrid hit a knickers-scorching 124 degrees.
Battery Life: Good, Not Great
The Pavilion X360's endurance is literally middle of the road. The convertible matched the 6 hour and 26 budget 2-in-1 average on the Laptop Mag Battery Test (continuous Web surfing over Wi-Fi at 100 nits). The Dell Inspiron 11 3000 ran a little bit longer at 6:42 and the smaller Atom-powered Aspire Switch 10 E lasted 8:28.
Software: Less Is More
While I prefer a laptop be more of a blank canvas, I was pleased to see that most of the apps HP installed aren't bloatware. The HP-branded software includes Connected Drive, a cloud storage app that allows you to transfer files up to 100MB between up to 10 devices.
Connected Music lets you listen to Internet radio and subscription music services as well as locally stored files in one place. Connected Photo, which was recently rebranded as the Snapfish app, lets you upload and access photos across devices as well as order prints of your favorite shots.
Third-party apps include Evernote, Netflix, Fresh Paint and the magazine subscription service Next Issue. If the convertible's 128GB SSD isn't enough storage, Microsoft has partnered with Dropbox to give users 25GB of space for six months. The laptop also comes with a 30-day free trial of McAfee LiveSafe.
HP has delivered a cheap 2-in-1 that's fast enough to be your primary PC. For $499, the Pavilion x360 11 offers a powerful Intel Core M processor, impressive audio and solid battery life in highly versatile convertible frame. However, the hot-running underside and not-so-hot colors on the display prevent this hybrid from being an Editors' Choice.
That award goes to the $440 Dell Inspiron 11 3000, which has a brighter and richer display, longer battery life and a slimmer and cooler-running design. However, I still recommend the Pavilion x360 11 for those looking to get the most power out of their hard-earned dollars.