We go hands-on with HP’s ultra-secure EliteBook x360
CES 2017 has yielded some great convertible business laptops, including a host of Lenovo ThinkPads, the AsusPro and Dell’s XPS 13 2-in-1. HP has taken the classic 2-in-1 format and bolstered it with robust security features and good build quality.
Let’s talk build first. It feels great, with a shell made from brushed aluminium. It feels strong and will probably stand the rigours of years being shoved into your backpack or laptop bag.
It weighs just 1.29kg, making it one of the lightest laptops in its class. It’s only slightly heavier than the Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 and substantially more powerful. It’s also just 15mm thick, which is admittedly thicker than its rivals.
You can flip the keyboard around and use the EliteBook like a tablet, and the optional active stylus makes taking notes easy and fuss-free thanks to Windows 10’s Ink features.
The most interesting security feature here is the privacy screen, called Sure View. Unlike other business notebooks where a privacy screen is an added accessory that you have to manually attach and detach, here it’s a layer over the top of the touch-enabled IPS panel. Simply hit the button on the top row of the keyboard and it’ll activate, dramatically reducing the horizontal viewing angles of the screen. This means any nosey folk sitting next to you won’t be able to see what you’re working on.
Sure View on from the front
HP Sure View on from the side: good luck reading that
It’s not without issues. Switched on, it makes darker colours look very pale (above), making the left and right corners of the screen very hard to view. There’s also some backlight bleed at the bottom of the panel as a result. HP says it’s still adjusting the privacy filter so it should improve before launch. It’s a great idea, and I hope HP is able to optimise it before its launch later this year. It’s an optional feature, as is the 3,840 x 2,160 resolution. You can also opt for a Full HD option with and without the privacy screen.
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Elsewhere in the security stakes, there’s an optional infrared camera for facial recognition, and an optional fingerprint scanner. Both of these hook into Windows 10’s excellent Hello security system.
There’s also a self-healing BIOS, which can automatically tell it’s been compromised and remove the threat before you boot into Windows.
There’s loads of connectivity as well, including two USB 3.0 ports, a MicroSD card slot, a Smart Card reader, a full-size HDMI port, a USB-C/ThunderBolt 3 port and a 3.5mm headset jack. Power comes via a proprietary connector rather than the USB-C standard that’s growing in popularity.
The keyboard is one of the best I’ve tried at CES, with a lovely clicky feel and a grippy coating that makes typing a breeze. The touchpad is similarly good, and comes with Precision Touchpad certification for seamless gestures.
It’s nice and fast as well. Performance comes from dual-core Intel Core i5 or i7 U-series processors along with 16GB of memory, which is standard for a laptop in this class. It’ll be fast enough for moderate office tasks and photo editing. SSDs range from 128GB M.2 models up to 360GB of PCIe storage.
Battery life should also be a strong point. While a 16-hour battery life estimation is probably optimistic, this laptop features fast-charging tech that’ll get you up to 50% charge in 30 minutes.
Starting at around $1,400, this is a high-end business machine. But its security features and great built make it a worthy competitor to Dell and Lenovo’s offerings.