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Review

HP Pavilion x360 Laptop Review: Versatile notebook for students

The HP Pavilion x360 laptop offers flexible design with great display and decent performance but battery life is not that great.

HP Pavilion x360

HP Pavilion x360 14-ba073tx 3.5 5
BGR Rating :
3.5/5

Highlights

  • The HP Pavilion X360 has a nice and vibrant display.

  • You also get a good keyboard and responsive track pad.

  • Battery life is average, though, and you won't want to leave home without the charger.

PC sales declined for the twelfth consecutive quarter at the end of Q3 2017, as per Gartner. It is a strong sign that computers are not an in-demand thing anymore. A large part of the reason is that enterprises have moved their on-premise resources to the cloud while consumers are adopting smartphones as their first and only computing device.

So why do PCs even exist in 2018? Well the answer is quite simple: You think of nothing but a PC when it comes to getting things done. The very fact that this review cannot be written comfortably on a mobile device is a testimony to the fact that PCs are needed and there is some time before they really become obsolete for most consumers.

Despite the decline in sales, PC makers have largely adhered to a common trend in the past year where their devices have gotten thinner and lighter than their predecessors. The second most common trend is to go the convertible route by adding a 360-degree hinge that adds versatility to an otherwise clamshell PC design.

While the convertible trend is pioneered by Lenovo, HP is no stranger to the segment. The company’s newest Pavilion x360 14-ba073tx is a convertible aimed at college students and creative professionals. HP has tried to add the most sought after features in this category: a touchscreen, large trackpad, responsive keyboard and stylus support. But does all of it do the trick? We review to find out.

Design and Display

Design is the biggest selling point of HP Pavilion x360 14-ba073tx convertible notebook. While the aluminum unibody chassis and the 360-degree rotating hinge is not unique, it adds a nice charm to an otherwise laptop-like laptop from the company. The minute you hold the laptop, it has a nice heft to it that makes you feel reassured that the device is built to last for years; several years to be specific.

The exterior is brushed aluminum all around with the redesigned HP logo sitting right at the center. The logo, like old-school HP laptops, does not glow, which would have added a distinguishing effect to the otherwise plain look. The aluminum spreads from the exterior to the interior and offers superior feel when you lay your fingers or palm around the keyboard. The trackpad is placed in the center below the keyboard giving it a MacBook-esque look that most notebook buyers desire in the market.

The Bang & Olufsen tuned speakers are placed above the keyboard while the interior is completed with trademark branding conforming the Intel chipset, NVIDIA graphics processor, Microsoft Office suite and HP’s own warranty guidelines. It is simple and gets the aesthetics of a notebook perfectly right but the real talking point is the 360-degree hinge (more on that in a bit).

The Pavilion x360 14-ba073tx, as the name reflects, features a 14-inch display with a resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels. The display has solid brightness and is great to look at from any angle. The glossy panel means that tube lights above your head will tend to reflect back some light but the display is great for viewing texts or video playback. The only thing I wish HP should have minimized is the bezels surrounding the display.

2017 has been the year when most smartphones ditched bezels but the trend actually started with the PC industry when Dell first announced its XPS 13 with InfinityEdge display in 2015. The biggest advantage of such a design is that you can pack a larger display in a smaller package. In comparison with Dell’s XPS 13 or its convertible sibling, the Pavilion x360 seems to have huge bezels that are definitely not acceptable in 2018.

The display is connected with the keyboard and other internals via metal clasps that also act as the hinge. The hinge is not as crazy as the dynamic fulcrum hinge on Surface Book or the watch band hinge on Lenovo’s premium notebooks. It’s just two metal pieces with ability to turn 360 degree and it gets the job done rather effectively.

The hinge allows you to turn the laptop into a tablet or into a screen in the tent mode. However the tablet mode is the least comfortable position here since the display is large for a tablet and the device seems too heavy in that mode. Also those keys at the back tend to mess around while holding the device like a tablet. But the tent mode is great for all those people out there who like to binge watch and Netflix has a really good app on Windows Store.

This design is definitely not perfect. The volume rocker on the lower left is so inconveniently placed that I often found myself hitting the volume button while adjusting the laptop on my desk. It might seem like nitpicking but HP should have actually moved it a bit higher in the design blueprint.

Keyboard, Trackpad and Stylus

A laptop, in my opinion, can compromise a bit on the display quality, but should never compromise on trackpad and keyboard. The launch of these thinner laptops always come at the cost of shallower keyboards and not so responsive trackpads. In the case of Pavilion x360 14-ba073tx, HP is offering a good keyboard and a trackpad that acts with precision.

The keyboard here features an 84-key layout with decent amount of travel. I always knew when I managed to hit the actuation point or got the key right. There were times when I did observe the keyboard failing to register my click but those instances were just too rare. If you are a student who needs to write assignments on their laptop then this keyboard won’t disappoint. I wrote this entire review on this very laptop and the fact that this keyboard is backlit helped me the most. It’s a no-brainer that a keyboard should be backlit whether you need or not.

Power users know the importance of a trackpad more than any other kind of user and trackpad gestures have been one of the strongest assets of Apple laptops for really long time. With Windows 10, Microsoft has caught up in style. Since HP is using a precision trackpad here, you can perform most gestures with ease.

For example, tapping on the trackpad to select an item, scrolling with two fingers and pinch to zoom with two fingers work well. The more complex action like triggering task view by swiping three fingers away from you also work. The desktop can be easily viewed from anywhere by swiping three fingers towards yourself. All these actions make it easier to create your own workflow removing friction that exists on non-precision trackpad.

With the release of Windows 10 Creators Update and Fall Creators Update, Microsoft is focusing on creative professionals who use combination of input devices including stylus to make them more productive. With Pavilion x360 14-ba073tx, HP is also including an active stylus that can be used to sketch or take notes on the go. The stylus is particularly useful with the Ink feature where users can take quick notes or work on designs. The Pen also has two quick launch buttons which can be customized to launch an application or feature. However, I found the stylus to be less responsive than other options such as the Surface Pen.

Performance and Battery Life

The good looks of HP Pavilion x360 14-ba073tx is complemented by an Intel Core i5-7500U CPU coupled with 8GB RAM and 1TB storage. The CPU is a 7th generation Intel Core processor based on Kaby Lake architecture and is a mobile chipset that enables low power consumption and extended battery life.

The Intel Core i5-7500U is a dual-core processor with four threads and a base frequency of 2.7GHz. The processor is based on 14nm architecture and supports max turbo frequency of 3.0GHz and has a thermal design power of 15W. It handled basic task like web browsing, messaging on Slack and music streaming with ease. However, when I loaded Google Chrome with too many tabs including few WordPress pages, I did hear fan spinning sound. At other times, it is a quiet machine. It is good for casual gaming but just don’t expect to play heavy-resource games such as PUBG in high settings. The availability of 8GB RAM and a dedicated NVIDIA GTX 940MX GPU means that creative professionals should be able to do photo editing with ease. However, video editing is unlikely to be as smooth as on a dedicated gaming machine. It’s important to note that this isn’t a gaming or graphics laptop at all; it’s meant for a moderate level of use.

Battery Life was basically a mixed bag experience for me. My office workflow which involves communication on Slack and webpages hosted on WordPress alongside some casual use of Facebook and Twitter over WiFi, the Pavilion x360 lasted around five and a half hours before it notified to plug-in. During this process, the brightness was set at 50 percent and I think one can squeeze out more battery life by switching to Microsoft Edge and lowering the brightness. I was hoping to see anywhere between 7-8 hours of usage but the 5.5 hours battery life falls in the mid-range segment. It is one of those machines where you should not take a risk of leaving the charger behind.

One last thing: That Bang & Olufsen tuned speaker on the Pavilion x360 sounds really good. It plays back a sound stage that is evenly balanced and sounds fantastic with songs that offers strong vocal range. It is ideal for that random music day at college when the staff fails to report in and you have some spare time to play back Ed Sheeran’s Photograph or something peppy like Kala Chashma.

Software

The Pavilion x360 runs Windows 10 Home Edition and it came with Creators Update out of the box. During the course of the week, it also got updated to Fall Creators Update, which is the latest iteration of Windows 10. I personally think that Windows 10 is one of the finest distributions of Windows yet from Microsoft. Windows 7 can stake claim for being the most versatile of all versions but Windows 10 builds on it with modern design that has become a necessity in this mobile age.

Unlike Windows 8, the whole operating system is fluid and Windows 10 offers the finest mail app, news app and even the photos app is packed with features like Remix 3D. Remix 3D works the best on this form factor where user has the ability to leverage a touchscreen and stylus.

If there is one feature of Windows 10 Fall Creators Update that tops for all other features then it has to be People integration. If you are a student or a creative professional, Peoples tab on the taskbar can be a great tool if you have contacts connected on Skype. Overall the experience of using Windows 10 on Pavilion x360 14-ba073tx has been smooth.

Ports and connectivity

HP Pavilion x360 14-ba073tx has a right selection of ports with two USB 3.0 ports, one USB Type-C port, one HDMI port and SDXC card slot. That is one healthy list of port selection but HP has missed the opportunity by pushing the traditional power brick for charging whereas it could have added another USB Type-C port with Thunderbolt 3.0 support and used it for charging by default.

It is important to know that USB Type-C is the port of the future and not present. I’m glad that HP is not pushing USB-C for everything like Apple and it is including other proprietary ports that are still in use. Yes, there is also a 3.5mm audio jack to plug-in your own set of headphones and playback audio or video content.

Verdict

With Pavilion x360 14-ba073tx, HP has tried to build a laptop that caters primarily as a strong back-to-school notebook choice. If you a student or a creative looking for little extra like stylus support and touchscreen display then Pavilion x360 14-ba073tx makes for a great choice. It offers crisp display, a responsive touchscreen and the flexible hinge that stays versatile in different modes despite it being cumbersome as a tablet.

However, if you are not planning to do gaming or video editing, it even has adequate processing power for most use cases like photo editing, web browsing, video conferencing and marathon typing at the time of project submissions. If your priority is a notebook that is flexible and will help unleash your creative side then Pavilion x360 14-ba073tx remains a strong choice. At around Rs 72,300, it remains competitive against similar offerings from Lenovo and Dell. However, you might want to look out for new models with 8th generation Core processors that will not only offer performance upgrade but also improvements in terms of battery life.

  • Published Date: January 9, 2018 10:16 AM IST
  • Updated Date: January 9, 2018 10:18 AM IST