For a short period early in my testing of the HP Pavilion x360 14, Best Buy was selling the convertible for $599.99. Since then, the price has crept up a C-note to $699.99. That's still a fair deal for 2-in-1 buyers on tight budgets—the HP is a reasonably sleek, reasonably peppy multimode machine, though it has only 8GB of memory and 128GB of solid-state storage. The recently reviewed Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 14 doubles those figures, but it costs $200 more. In whichever direction the pricing sways in the days and months to come, I'd keep one polestar constant: Be leery of getting just a 128GB drive in this price zone. The Pavilion is otherwise attractive, but also look into the Lenovo ThinkPad L390 Yoga if you're in the market for a budget 2-in-1.
Two Shades of Two-Tone
Pavilion is HP's mainstream consumer brand (or, if you prefer, second-cheapest brand above plain HP but below Envy and Spectre). The x360's lid and lower screen bezel are decorated with the company's old-school circular logo, not the four-slash stylized logo seen on its upscale systems. There's just a little flex if you grasp the screen corners or mash the keyboard.
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Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 14 (2019)
Read Our Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 14 (2019) Review
Dell Inspiron 14 5000 2-in-1 (5482)
Read Our Dell Inspiron 14 5000 2-in-1 (5482) Review
Lenovo Yoga C930
Read Our Lenovo Yoga C930 Review
LG gram 14 2-in-1
Read Our LG gram 14 2-in-1 Review
Acer Spin 3 (With Amazon Alexa)
Read Our Acer Spin 3 (With Amazon Alexa) Review
Lenovo ThinkPad L390 Yoga
Read Our Lenovo ThinkPad L390 Yoga Review
The laptop is available in Mineral Silver or Warm Gold, each with what HP calls "color blocking"—two slightly different shades of silver or gold for the lid and keyboard deck, rather than a neutral color for the latter. Overall, it's a good-looking design, and at 0.8 by 12.7 by 8.8 inches fractionally smaller than the IdeaPad Flex (0.7 by 12.9 by 9 inches) or Dell Inspiron 14 5000 2-in-1 (0.79 by 12.9 by 9.2 inches).
The Pavilion weighs 3.5 pounds, which is lighter than the Inspiron (3.9 pounds) but heavier than our more expensive Editors' Choice, the 13.9-inch Lenovo Yoga C930 (3.1 pounds). Like most 2-in-1s, it's a bit ungainly to hold in midair rather than rest in your lap in tablet mode.
The convertible's left edge holds a USB 3.1 Type-A port, an audio jack, a security lock slot, and the power button. On the right edge, you'll find another USB 3.1 Type-A port, a USB 3.1 Type-C port, an HDMI video output, a full-size SD card slot, and the connector for the AC adapter. There is no Thunderbolt 3 port, which isn't a surprise at this low price. Nor is there a volume rocker for use in tent or tablet mode, or a place to stash a pen or a stylus for the touch screen—just as well, since there's no pen included.
All the Essentials
Medium-thin bezels (except for the thicker bottom bezel) surround the 14-inch touch screen, which offers full HD (1,920 by 1,080) resolution. IPS technology provides wide viewing angles and decent contrast. Fine details are suitably sharp, and the brightness is adequate, but the display gives off a faint economy-model vibe nonetheless. Colors don't pop, and backgrounds are just a touch off-white. It's far from the worst screen I've seen, but it's ordinary rather than extraordinary.
The 720p webcam centered above the display captures average-quality images, just a bit dim and noisy but pretty good in terms of focus and detail. It's not a face recognition camera, but a fingerprint reader on the keyboard deck works with Windows Hello to bypass passwords.
The keyboard is backlit and has dedicated Home, End, Page Up, and Page Down keys rather than double-teaming those functions on the cursor arrow keys; the Escape and Delete keys are small but others are sized and separated nicely. After dozens of HP-laptop reviews, I now have a macro on my own keyboard to complain about HP's clumsy arrangement of the cursor arrows in a row instead of the more comfortable inverted T, but my cries go unheeded.
The typing feel is somewhat shallow but firm and snappy, with a quiet clicking sound and fair tactile feedback. The buttonless touchpad is wide but not very deep; it glides and taps smoothly, requiring a light press to produce a quiet click.
Sound from the Bang & Olufsen-tuned speakers isn't very loud, but neither is it distorted or tinny at top volume. There's little bass, but overlaying tracks are distinguishable. A supplied B&O Audio Control utility offers music, movie, and voice presets and an equalizer. HP backs the Pavilion with a one-year warranty.
2-in-1s Put to the Test
In addition to its 8GB of memory and 128GB SSD, the Pavilion x360 14 features Intel's 1.6GHz (3.9GHz turbo) Core i5-8265U processor with UHD 620 integrated graphics. For our performance comparisons, I pitted the system against four other 14-inch convertibles, the Core i5-based Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 14 and Acer Spin 3, and the Core i7-powered Dell Inspiron 14 5000 2-in-1 and LG Gram 14 2-in-1. The first three are competitively priced, though the LG is well into four figures. You can see the contenders' basic specs below.
While not a barn-burner, the HP proved thoroughly competent for everyday productivity and online tasks. Its graphics scores showed it far short of suitability for serious gaming, but that's been true of every laptop we've ever tested with integrated graphics rather than a discrete GPU.
Productivity, Storage, and Media Tests
PCMark 10 and 8 are holistic performance suites developed by the PC benchmark specialists at UL (formerly Futuremark). The PCMark 10 test we run simulates different real-world productivity and content-creation workflows. We use it to assess overall system performance for office-centric tasks such as word processing, spreadsheet wrangling, web browsing, and videoconferencing. The test generates a proprietary numeric score; higher numbers are better.
PCMark 8, meanwhile, has a Storage subtest that we use to assess the speed of the boot drive. The result is also a proprietary numeric score; again, higher numbers are better.
All five convertibles missed the 4,000-point mark we consider excellent in PCMark 10, but were close enough to it to indicate perfectly fine performance for Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. PCMark 8's Storage test held no terrors for their speedy solid-state drives.
Next is Maxon's CPU-crunching Cinebench R15 test, which is fully threaded to make use of all available processor cores and threads. Cinebench stresses the CPU rather than the GPU to render a complex image. The result is a proprietary score indicating a PC's suitability for processor-intensive workloads.
The Core i7 Inspiron led the way, with the LG Gram something of an underperformer. You won't mistake any of these machines for a 3D rendering or video editing workstation, but you won't have to take a coffee break during routine operations.
We also run a custom Adobe Photoshop image-editing benchmark. Using an early 2018 release of the Creative Cloud version of Photoshop, we apply a series of 10 complex filters and effects to a standard JPEG test image. We time each operation and, at the end, add up the total execution time (lower times are better). The Photoshop test stresses the CPU, storage subsystem, and RAM, but it can also take advantage of most GPUs to speed up the process of applying filters.
The Dell and LG carried the Core i7 banner while the HP was by the narrowest of margins the quickest of the Core i5 convertibles. Photoshop mavens will probably want a faster CPU and a 4K display, but the Pavilion can handle occasional image touch-ups.
3DMark measures relative graphics muscle by rendering sequences of highly detailed, gaming-style 3D graphics that emphasize particles and lighting. We run two different 3DMark subtests, Sky Diver and Fire Strike, which are suited to different types of systems. Both are DirectX 11 benchmarks, but Sky Diver is suited to laptops and midrange PCs, while Fire Strike is more demanding and made for high-end PCs to strut their stuff. The results are proprietary scores.
These numbers are low across the board. Expect these hybrids to play casual or browser-based games, but don't even think about the latest titles.
Next up is another synthetic graphics test, this time from Unigine Corp. Like 3DMark, the Superposition test renders and pans through a detailed 3D scene and measures how the system copes. In this case, it's rendered in the company's eponymous Unigine engine, offering a different 3D workload scenario than 3DMark, for a second opinion on the machine's graphical prowess. We present two Superposition results, run at the 720p Low and 1080p High presets.
Four is not quite 30, and the difference between 4fps and 30fps indicates how far integrated graphics have to go to catch up with the dedicated graphics of real gaming laptops.
Battery Rundown Test
After fully recharging the laptop, we set up the machine in power-save mode (as opposed to balanced or high-performance mode) where available and make a few other battery-conserving tweaks in preparation for our unplugged video rundown test. (We also turn Wi-Fi off, putting the laptop into airplane mode.) In this test, we loop a video—a locally stored 720p file of the Blender Foundation short film Tears of Steel(Opens in a new window)—with screen brightness set at 50 percent and volume at 100 percent until the system conks out.
It seems like only yesterday that we were praising laptops for managing five or six hours away from an AC outlet. Today the Pavilion's 12 and a half hours aren't exceptional, but still an excellent result. Getting through a workday plus an evening of Netflix will be no problem.
A Low Storage Ceiling
If Best Buy hadn't hiked the Pavilion x360 14's price from $599.99, it'd easily earn three and a half and maybe even four stars; as is, I hesitate to give more than three to any system with only 128GB of storage (here 92GB free out of the box) that isn't a barest-budget model. In terms of future-proofing, a 256GB SSD is far preferable.
With that in mind, you might want to check out different configurations on HP.com—one with a 256GB solid-state drive and 12GB of memory is normally $899.99, but when I wrote this it was on sale for $749.99, which is definitely tempting. The under-$1,000 convertible market is crowded and competitive; a little hunting can turn up some real bargains.
HP Pavilion x360 14
(Opens in a new window)See It$619.00 at Amazon(Opens in a new window)
Good battery life and keyboard feel.
Skimpy 128GB solid-state drive.
Pen not included.
The Bottom Line
Priced well under $1,000, HP's Pavilion x360 14 is a Core i5 convertible for the masses—and something of a pleasant surprise, although a 128GB SSD is pretty thin nowadays.
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