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REVIEW: HP EliteBook x360 1020 G2

HP EliteBook x360 1020 G2

HP’s EliteBook x360 1020 G2 is a super slick convertible laptop featuring 7th-generation Intel Core processor choices, impressive security options, and an ultra-bright 12.5-inch display (there’s also a 13.3-inch model). HP pitches it as the world’s thinnest and lightest business convertible. The downside to all this tech loveliness is a steep asking price that starts at £1,282 and raises to £2,122 – serious money for such a small machine that’s not quite the perfect package.

Design

The most striking feature of the EliteBook x360 1020 G2 is its svelte design. The machine weighs next to nothing at 1.13 kg and measures just 13.9mm thickness. But it’s still an enterprise-friendly computer that’s MIL-STD 810G tested for shock and drop resistance, among other things. As the name suggests, its convertible design means it has four screen modes – tent, laptop, media, and tablet (keyboard doesn’t detach) – making it extremely versatile for content creation or consumption either at a desk, on the move, or relaxing on a sofa. It’s all-silver chassis looks fantastic (especially the speaker grates), the screen is razor thin (albeit still sporting a noticeable black bezel), and the large trackpad with silver highlights sets the machine off beautifully.

HP EliteBook x360 1020 G2

Specifications & Connectivity

The EliteBook x360 1020 G2 is available with up to a Intel Core i7-7600U processor with vPro, up to 16GB of DDR3-1866 memory, and up to 1TB of solid state storage – impressive specifications for such a diminutive machine. The only disappointment is the Intel HD Graphics 620 chipset, which is inadequate for video editing or occasional gaming.

As the system is built for business, HP is advocating the security and manageability aspects of the laptop with features such as HP Sure Click (for protection from malware), HP Sure View (a 3M screen for enhanced privacy), HP Sure Start Gen3 (for enterprise-ready BIOS management) and HP Multi Factor Authenticate (for hardened authentication using a combination of hardware and software). It also uses Windows Hello in combination with both a fingerprint reader and an infrared camera, so you have a choice of login options. The computer uses TPM to encrypt your biometric data and there is Intel vPro technology for remote management. The pre-installed HP Client Security app does a great job of explaining the device’s security features and also helps you to set them up.

It has two Thunderbolt 3/USB Type-C ports (you’ll need one to charge the machine), an HDMI 1.4a port, headset jack, 720p web camera, and Kensington Lock. There’s also 802.11a/b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.2 for wireless connectivity. The 49.28-Wh battery is good for up to around 10 hours of battery life (under ideal conditions), and supports fast charging so that you can get a 50 percent charge in around 30 minutes. There’s also optional 4G LTE for mobile working, and frequent travellers might also want to consider the HP USB-C Travel Dock (£94.80). The EliteBook x360 1020 G2 comes installed with Windows 10 Pro and supports Windows Ink-based handwriting recognition via the optional pressure-sensitive HP Active Pen (£52.80).

HP EliteBook x360 1020 G2

Display, Keyboard & Sound

My review sample included the ultra-bright (700 nit) Full HD IPS touchscreen display, but there is an option for an FHD non-touch or UHD touch panel (840×2160 pixels with 100% Adobe RGB colour gamut). The non-reflective display was a joy to use, and 1080p content was bright and colourful. In fact, the screen is a waste on general office work like editing spreadsheets.

Another superb feature is the 3M developed SureView technology that adds a privacy filter to the display, simply activated by hitting the F2 button. With the SureView feature off, it looks like a normal laptop screen. Activate the feature and the view turns dark, thanks to a light-controlling film built into the screen. The end result is a display that’s almost impossible to read unless you’re sitting right in front of it – perfect for frequent business travellers working on confidential files on the go.

The backlit low-travel keyboard is fine for touch typing, and the Microsoft Precision-certified trackpad works well with popular gestures including pinch-to-zoom, two-fingered scrolling and three-fingered window management. Unfortunately – and this is a big issue for me – the trackpad is noisy when clicked and will drive colleagues or commuters in close proximity crazy. As a business machine it would be much more practical to have separate buttons. The dedicated key to bring up an Outlook calendar is a nice touch, although it can’t be configured to work with any other calendar apps. The dual-array microphones and stereo speakers with Bang & Olufsen tuning sound great, allowing the EliteBook x360 1020 G2 to excel in both business and multimedia.

HP EliteBook x360 1020 G2

Would We Recommend The HP EliteBook x360?

The EliteBook x360 1020 G2 is undoubtedly one of the most stylish business laptops around and it’ll look great both at your office and in your home. The screen is beautiful, the speakers are great, and it has some fantastic security features to keep your data safe (including the optional privacy screen). It’s also really small and light.

My biggest gripes are the last-gen processor, the touchpad that’s noisy when clicked, and the near constant fan noise when running (dropping down to an i5 processor should alleviate this). As crazy as it sounds, I also like a business laptop to look like a business laptop rather than a high-end ultraportable, which is why I prefer the Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 (from £1,059) and Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga (from £1,079). The EliteBook x360 1020 G2 also gets crazy expensive when specifications are bumped. It might be one of the best business/consumer crossover laptops, but I don’t think the HP EliteBook x360 1020 G2 is the best due to a few shortcomings. But it is one to consider if style is at the top of your priorities.

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Christian Harris is editor and publisher of BCW. Christian has over 20 years’ publishing experience and in that time has contributed to most major IT magazines and Web sites in the UK. He launched BCW in 2009 as he felt there was a need for honest and personal commentary on a wide range of business computing issues. Christian has a BA (Hons) in Publishing from the London College of Communication.