HP Pavilion x360 review
HP brought more than a few new devices to Barcelona for Mobile World Congress (new in Europe, at least), but the most interesting is easily the Pavilion x360. It's a hybrid device with a hinged lid that lets you fold it onto itself, turning the touchscreen laptop into a large tablet. If that sounds familiar, it's because we've seen the design before in Lenovo's IdeaPad Yoga.
It seems HP has borrowed more than just the design concept from Lenovo too; the x360 has an incredibly vibrant "Brilliant Red" colour scheme, just as the Yoga is unmistakably orange. It's an odd move for HP, as the rest of its laptop range either has a matte black or brushed metal silver finish. Indeed, open up the lid and they keyboard tray is silver, giving the device an odd two-tone appearance. Thankfully there's a more muted "Smoke Silver" model available for the less ostentatious.
The 11.6in display has a fairly mediocre 1,36x768 display that didn't look particularly bright or sharp during our brief hands-on with the unit. Light reflections were a real problem, making it difficult to see anything onscreen unless you had a perfect viewing angle. At least touch inputs felt responsive and colours looked reasonably vibrant, but we were otherwise left distinctly underwhelmed.
The x360 is primarily a laptop, so connectivity is suitably comprehensive. You get Ethernet, a full-size HDMI video output, two USB3 ports and a card reader slot on one side, and a single USB, 3.5mm audio jack and volume controls on the other. Also expect Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and integrated front-facing webcam. There will be a choice of Intel Pentium or Celeron processors at launch, with various combinations of memory and storage available on request through HP's website.
The keyboard and touchpad are unmistakably HP; black Chiclet keys widely spaced apart and an all-in-one touchpad with Windows 8 gesture support. It's certainly comfortable to type on, with plenty of travel in each key and plenty of bounce, and naturally it's a major improvement over using the touchscreen to type long documents, but the keys aren't backlit for working in the dark.
Unfortunately in Tablet mode the x360 has the same issue as the Lenovo Yoga from which it takes inspiration - gripping the device means squashing the keyboard keys together. They are disabled by default when the device detects the screen has been folded over, but it's nowhere near as satisfying to hold as a normal tablet. The x360 also weighs a considerable 1.4kg, so held in one hand it feels bulky and uncomfortable on the wrists.
At least the hinged design means it's more than just a laptop or a tablet like some convertibles; you could tilt the hinge half way and bring the screen closer to you when sat at a desk, or lean it at an angle for watching video in bed without having to hold the screen in front of your face. Unfortunately you can't lean on it like an easel, as the hinge will just close under the weight of your hands.
HP expects the Pavilion x360 to go on sale in March here in the UK, with prices starting from £350 depending on specification. With the full version of Windows 8.1 installed, the low price could offset the basic screen for anyone looking for a cheap hybrid.