Connections, performance, and battery
Compared to many other ultraportable laptops, even the $899 11-inch MacBook Air, the x360 has a very generous selection of ports, including HDMI out, an SD card slot, and a full-size Ethernet jack. That's great -- if you need a small laptop with the ability to easily connect to a wired Internet setup, it's a big vote in this system's favor.
The Pavilion x360, in either its $399 base model or the $474 upgrade we tested, has the same CPU, a 2.16GHz Intel Pentium N3530. That's the exact same processor as in our Lenovo Yoga 2 11-inch unit, although that hybrid can be configured with Intel Core i-series CPUs for a few hundred dollars more.
If you expect mainstream laptop performance, on par with your 15-inch or larger $1,000-plus machine, you're not going to get that. Both the x360 and the Yoga 2 felt sluggish at times, especially when working in the traditional Windows desktop view and menus or when starting up. To Microsoft's credit, the tile-based Windows 8 interface is fast and responsive with virtually any processor, and the preloaded native Windows 8 apps in it work great.
Battery life is always a strong selling point for both ultraportable laptops and tablets, so you'd think HP would make this a major feature of the x360 hybrid. Unfortunately, despite the low-power CPU, battery life here was merely average, running for 4 hours 47 minutes in our video-playback battery-drain test. The Yoga 2, with the same CPU, ran a bit longer at 5 hours 35 minutes. Ironically, you really have to trade up to a more powerful Core i-series system to get the full benefit of Intel's recent battery-life gains.
By taking the Yoga's popular foldback hinge design and making it available for as little as $399/£329/AU$599, the HP Pavilion x360 performs a valuable service, and should be commended for that, as well as for being a budget laptop with a better-than-expected typing experience and plenty of ports and connections.
If you're willing to work with the limited performance expectations that come from using a low-cost, low-power platform, it seems like a sure thing on paper, but the frustrating screen quality is enough to make me want to spend a little more for the 11-inch version of Lenovo Yoga 2.
HP Pavilion 11 x360
Windows 8.1 (64.bit); 2.16GHZ Intel Pentium N3520 8GB DDR3 SDRAM 1333MHz;32MB (dedicated) Intel HD Graphics; 500GB HDD
Lenovo Yoga 2 (11-inch)
Windows 8.1 (64.bit); 2.16GHZ Intel Pentium N3520 4GB DDR3 SDRAM 1333MHz;32MB (dedicated) Intel HD Graphics; 500GB HDD
Lenovo Yoga 2 (13-inch)
Windows 8.1 (64-bit); 1.6GHz; Intel Core i5-4200; 4GB DDR3 SDRAM 1600MHz, 1792MB (shared) Intel HD Graphics 4400; 500GB SSHD
Dell XPS 11
Windows 8.1 (64-bit); 1.5GHz Intel Core i5-4210Y; 4GB DDR3 SDRAM 1600MHz; 1792MB (sharedl) Intel HD Graphics 4200; 128GB SSD
Lenovo Ideatab Miix 2
Windows 8.1 (32-bit); 1.33GHz Intel Atom Z3740; 2GB DDR3 SDRAM 1066MHz; 32MB (dedicated) Intel HD Graphics; 128GB SSD