Announced back in January at CES alongside some new Spectre x360 PCs, HP unveiled the EliteBook x360 1030 G2, a convertible from its business lineup. It's a premium convertible device, and it comes with a number of business-centric features.
For one thing, it offers two different forms of Windows Hello biometric authentication: fingerprint and facial recognition. There's also an option for a Sure View display, which reduces 95% of visible light from the PC when viewing it from over a 35% angle, increasing privacy.
That's not all though. HP SureStart checks the BIOS at startup, and if it's been corrupted, it's replaced by a master BIOS. And all of that comes in an aluminum unibody casing alongside a range of ports and powerful internals. Read on for more.
|CPU||2.5GHz Core i5-7200U, 2.6GHz Core i5-7300U, 2.9GHz Core i7-7600U|
|Graphics||Intel HD Graphics 620|
|Display||13.3-inch, 1080p, 2160p, or 1080p with Sure View|
|Body||12.48 x 8.6 x .59 inches, 2.82 pounds|
|Storage||Up to 512GB SSD|
|RAM||4GB (i5 only), 8GB, 16GB (i7 only)|
|Windows Hello||IR camera, fingerprint reader|
|Ports||One Thunderbolt 3, two USB 3.1 Type-A, one HDMI 1.4, AC power, 3.5mm headphone/microphone, micro-SD, Smart card|
The model that I received to review is bolded in the specifications above .
Charging and battery life
One of the more interesting features of the EliteBook x360 is that it actually has two methods of charging it: legacy and Thunderbolt 3.
First, there's the legacy charger, which is what's packaged with the device. If you've got an older HP device, the charging cable will still work, and that's why this option is included, as many businesses have legacy cables.
Next is Thunderbolt 3, which is a form of USB Type-C. This is what I used to charge it, as I have multiple HP laptops lying around that use Type-C for charging.
As for battery life, I was able to get 8-10 hours of juice out of it easily, which for most people, should cover a full day of work. HP says that the battery is designed to take 1,000 cycles over three years.
In the spec sheet, HP lists one of the USB 3.1 Type-A ports as supporting charging, and as you can see from the image above, it has the charging icon next to it. This is not to charge the device itself, but it can be used to charge peripherals, even when the PC is powered down.
While the device that I was sent to review doesn't include the Sure View display, I got to play with one and it was pretty cool. HP says that 91% of visual hacking attempts (basically when someone looks over your shoulder to peek at what you're doing) are successful, and 60% of employees take their PCs outside of the office.
That's where Sure View comes in. When viewed from over a 35-degree angle, 95% of visible light is blocked.
My biggest disappointment is that this option isn't available on the 4K model; in fact, HP says that it expects 1080p to be the most popular option.
As you can see from the images though, it works, and it's pretty cool.
Design and display
Looking at the outside of the device, the 'Asteroid' Silver metal unibody is very similar to the 2016 Spectre x360, which I reviewed in December. In fact, if you have both devices, you'll find that it's very easy to get them confused. The PC is pretty, if a bit dull given how many similarly designed devices are out there.
HP chose a different selection of ports for the EliteBook than it did for the Spectre. On the left side, you'll find a volume rocker, Smart Card slot, 3.5mm headphone jack, and a USB 3.1 Type-A port. On the right side, there's another Type-A port, one Type-C port, legacy charging, a micro-SD card slot, and an HDMI 1.4 port.
Above the display is a camera and an additional IR supported one for Windows Hello. If you're more into fingerprint scanning, you'll find the sensor on the right of the trackpad, underneath the keyboard.
The placement of the fingerprint scanner is something that I take issue with, even though it doesn't directly affect me. It's very well-placed for users that are right-handed, so it won't be quite as comfortable to use if you're left-handed.
As far as the display goes, it looks about as good as it can. As I mentioned earlier, I was given the 1080p model to review, and I really don't think that's enough for a premium 13.3-inch laptop. From my experience, a 4K display is really hard on the battery, so I feel like 1440p is really the sweet spot.
In short, the quality of the display is what you'd expect from a premium HP PC, which is to say really great, but you can still see some pixellation.
Of course, if it's not enough, keep in mind that the USB Type-C port is Thunderbolt 3, meaning that it can push two 4K monitors or one 5K monitor. I haven't tested this, as I don't have a pair of 4K monitors or a 5K monitor, but I'm skeptical of the Intel HD Graphics' ability to push those kinds of resolutions. I don't think that one 4K monitor would be a problem though.
Windows Hello is one of my favorite features of Windows 10, and as I've said, the EliteBook x360 includes two methods of biometric authentication: facial recognition and a fingerprint reader. You'll have the option of setting up one of them, or both.
I found the facial recognition to be a bit disappointing. When I boot up the PC, it tends to stay on "getting ready" for at least a few seconds, which is just annoying. Biometric authentication is useless if it becomes more convenient to simply type your PIN. Once the camera does turn on though, it's super-fast, just like HP's other laptops that have the camera.
But that's why there's a fingerprint reader. If the IR camera isn't working out for you, you can simply place your finger on the sensor to log into Windows. I've found it to be both fast and accurate.
Update: As I noted in the Performance section, HP sent me a new unit to see if the one I had reviewed previously was defective. The "getting ready" screen doesn't seem to lag for as long on this one, but it still takes a couple seconds. HP told me that it's working on this issue, so if you have an EliteBook x360, keep an eye out for a firmware update.
Aside from Windows Hello and the Sure View display, the EliteBook x360 has a number of security features baked right into it. One of those is HP Sure Start, which checks the BIOS against a master copy, and if it's been corrupted, replaces it.
There's also a feature called WorkWise, which is software that's pre-installed on the EliteBook and requires a companion app that's available for iOS and Android. Unfortunately, there's no Windows 10 Mobile version just yet (coming this year), which might be an issue if your company deploys the HP Elite x3.
WorkWise offers a number of security solutions; for one thing, it will lock your PC when you walk away from it (the app is paired via Bluetooth). You can adjust the settings of how far away you have to be for it to lock, and when you return to the device, it will unlock.
The app will also alert you if someone tampers with the EliteBook. This can be a range of things, such as closing the lid on the device while you're away from it, even if it's been automatically locked.
As you'd expect, there's quite a bit of other HP software on the EliteBook x360 as well. These include things like HP Sure Click Secure Browser, HP JumpStart, and things like HP Support Assistant and HP SoftPaq Download Manager, which will get your machine the latest software and firmware.
Keyboard and active pen
The keyboard is pretty standard, with black plastic keys, similar to what you'll find on a MacBook Pro. It's one of the most important parts of a laptop to me, being a journalist, so I always dedicate a section in a laptop review to the keyboard.
While the keys feel good, I'm not a fan of this keyboard. I'm finding that it often misses keystrokes, causing me to have to go back and add a character here and there. I always start out PC reviews on the device that I'm reviewing, but by this point, I'm back on my main desktop writing the rest of it.
It's not a terrible keyboard, and I suspect that the missed keystrokes may have something to do with a broader performance issue that we'll go over later, but it's not the best.
The EliteBook x360 does support a Wacom active pen; however, it does require a battery, so your pens from a Galaxy Note5 or Surface Pro/Pro 2 won't work. It has two buttons on the side and one on top, with a design that's similar to Microsoft's more recent Surface Pens.
The fact that the pen requires a battery disappoints me greatly. I'm not a big pen user, but in rare occasions, I'll use one to sign a document or something, rather than print it, sign it, and scan it. By the time that I actually use it, the battery is usually dead from the time period since the last time I used it.
This pen is no different. I'd estimate that it has a battery life of about two months. Also, to be clear, it uses AAAA batteries, like many of the pens on the market.
When HP brands a PC as 'x360', that means that it has a 360-degree hinge, meaning that it can fill out a variety of form factors. In fact, the EliteBook x360 is a very versatile machine for businesses.
Obviously, the standard form factor is where the hinge is at around 90 degrees, and that's for when you're using it as a laptop. This is a time-tested way of using a PC, and I really don't have to go into the benefits for productivity and such when using a laptop.
The very opposite is when the display is folded all the way back in tablet mode. With pen support, this form factor can be very useful in taking notes, marking up maps, writing on images, drawing diagrams, or doing anything else that might require inking. Windows Ink is a huge benefit here.
There are two other general form factors, which are tent mode and where the display is folded to 270 degrees and the keyboard is flat against the desk. Either of these would be great for presentations, and if the screen is too small, the EliteBook x360 has an HDMI 1.4 port so you can show it on pretty much any display that you want.
As with most of HP's premium products, the EliteBook x360 comes with Bang & Olufsen speakers; however, unlike the Spectre, there are just two speakers placed on each side of the bottom of the device. First of all, let's be clear that in general, the speakers sound great.
It's just that they sound better in tent or tablet modes. This is because when the machine is being used in such form factors, the body is folded in such a way that the speakers are facing toward you, whereas when used as a laptop, they're facing the desk.
I really don't think that anyone is going to complain about the audio quality though.
'Elite' is HP's business brand, so we need to be very clear that this laptop isn't exactly meant for consumers. With that in mind, there were some performance issues that I've intimated throughout this review.
Everything just sort of seems slower than it should be with a Core i7 and 16GB of RAM powering the PC. I assume that this can be chalked up to all of the additional security and software features that are included, which to be fair, are fantastic business features. That's why I started off this section with a reminder that this machine isn't aimed at consumers.
It's an overall combination of Windows Hello taking awhile to start up, longer than normal loading times, and just general sluggishness. The benchmarks didn't reflect it though; I used PCMark for testing.
Update: HP actually reached out to me and suggested that the reason that I was having performance issues may be the device itself, so the company sent me a new one. To put it simply, I was very pleased with the results. This machine is really fast, surprisingly so in fact, given that the one I had originally felt sluggish and the new one feels snappy.
Since HP sent me a new unit, I've been using it for a couple of weeks. The difference is really night and day, and it's a very pleasant machine to use.
First, I used PCMark 10, which runs an overall test.
I also ran tests from PCMark 8, which allowed me to run separate tests, and compare them to similar devices. The first test is the 'home' benchmark, which runs it through general use cases.
Showing that it's better than 57% of all results is really darn good. Next up is the 'creative' test.
As we can see, it still shows 57% for this test, which is really impressive for a PC without a dedicated GPU. Finally, the 'work' test is based on productivity tasks.
Obviously, showing that it's better than 89% of its competitors is just nuts, and indeed, this machine does do pretty well in productivity-related tasks. In general, it does run well, but there are just times when it's sluggish and it really doesn't make sense why it's acting in such a way.
The HP EliteBook x360 1030 G2 is an excellent 360-degree convertible for businesses. The hinge allows it to conform to multiple form factors and therefore multiple use cases. It's fantastic for anything from standard laptop productivity, to showing presentations, to taking notes and drawing with Windows Ink.
The additional layers of security are amazing as well. HP really seems to have thought of everything, with technologies such as Sure Start and WorkWise keeping the device secure even when you're not around to make sure that everything is running smoothly.
The only issue that I really had with it is performance, which is a fair compromise to make when you consider all of the additional features that HP has packed into the EliteBook x360. It's certainly a powerful and versatile machine, that seems like it would fit into any business situation.
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