HP Pavilion x360 13.3″ Review: Best Budget Student Laptop?
It is that time of year again when all the kiddies and some of us adults are heading back to school, and it brings up a popular topic: what is the best laptop for students? For Windows, the 2016 HP Pavilion x360 is a 2-in-1 convertible laptop and it makes a strong case for being a great choice. Full Disclaimer: I did receive this for free to review, but like all my other reviews these are all my personal thoughts and honest opinions so let’s get right into it. The HP Pavilion x360 comes in 3 different sizes: 11.6″, 13.3″, and 15.6″. I have the 13.3″ model and it is the most popular so I’ll be focusing on that throughout this video.
The 13.3″ model comes in two different colors, gold like the one I have here or silver, and it starts at just $429 which makes it very budget friendly. However I do recommend spending a little bit more to get better specs on certain hardware that I’ll cover in this review video. In fact, the model that I recommend is linked in the description below. When it comes to laptops there are four aspects that I care about the most and that is Performance, Battery Life, Portability, and Design. Let’s start with performance which is mainly based on CPU, RAM, and storage drive speed. As far as CPU goes, the 6th generation Intel processor in this laptop is great at handling all the daily tasks I’ve thrown at it (surfing the web, typing documents, watching videos, playing music, etc).
All base models come with Intel HD 520 graphics and the CPU starts at Core i3, but can be configured to Core i5 for faster performance which is what I recommend. The DDR4 RAM starts at 4GB but can be configured up to 12GB, but I think 8GB is the best choice for most people. In my opinion the most important factor in performance is the storage drive speed. The base model on this comes with a 500GB hard disk drive and I always tell people to avoid hard disk drives like the plague, especially 5400 RPM drives so I highly recommend getting the 128GB solid state drive option when getting this laptop. Yes it’s less local storage, but the SSD will make your computer run so much faster and you’ll be a much happier person in the long run and plus you can utilize cloud storage like Dropbox and Google Drive for most of your data storage needs. The SSD is also a huge help in the next category which is battery life. The HP Pavilion x360 has a 3-cell 41 watt hour lithium ion battery, and I was very pleased with the battery life on this laptop.
With the SSD model, starting at 100% charge I was able to get 6 hours 16 minutes of use with 15% battery remaining. That included listening to Spotify, using Chrome, watching YouTube videos, typing in Evernote, all the while being connected to WiFi the whole time and having the screen brightness right around 60-70%. Of course battery life will ultimately depend on the model and how it’s being used. When it comes to portability, the 13.3″ is a nice size overall, not too big to be bulky or tough to carry around. It’s also not too small to hinder keyboard functionality or screen size. It weighs lbs and it’s only 0.8″ thin mostly due to the fact that it does not have a DVD drive which is perfectly fine by me. The HP Pavilion x360 is not as small and lightweight as my Dell XPS 13, but the XPS 13 also costs more and is not a convertible laptop.
I think any student or traveler will be more than fine using the x360 as their primary laptop. One of my favorite features of the HP Pavilion x360 is the keyboard. The keys aren’t glossy but instead have a slightly textured finish to them which my fingers seem to love. The keys have adequate spacing and I can type extremely fast on them. On the other hand I’m not as big a fan of the touchpad. I like the smoothness and responsiveness of it and I love the multi-touch gestures like 2 finger scrolling and 3-finger app switching, but it’s not a precision touchpad which means I cannot reverse the scrolling direction which is a big letdown for me.
The x360 has plenty of ports, enough to cover all of my needs. The left side has one USB port along with a headphone jack next to the volume rocker. The right side has a memory card reader, two USB ports and an HDMI port. Now let’s talk about the display which has been the biggest disappointment so far for me. Even though it is an IPS touchscreen that has great viewing angles, the model I have is rocking a lackluster 1366×768 resolution display. After using a Retina display on a MacBook and a 4K UHD display on an XPS 13, going to a screen that is not full HD is a bummer. It’s definitely noticeable, but good news is that they do offer a full HD 1920×1080 screen which is what I do highly recommend getting if you get this laptop.
The dual speaker bar is pretty decent. The speakers are custom tuned in collaboration with Bang & Olufsen so that’s a plus, but to me they aren’t spectacular or anything but they do sound good and get pretty loud. I’m not a fan of the lines that go across the inside of this laptop. Seems like it’s a bit of a distraction. I would prefer a more minimalist look with just a plain black inside cover. One thing I did love about this laptop is that it never got too hot on the bottom when you’re using it, if you’re using it on your lap as the name “laptop” suggests.
One of the best features of this laptop is the convertible design. The laptop can flip all the way around on its 360 degree hinge, hence the name x360. This essentially gives it 4 different usable modes: Laptop mode is the normal way you use a laptop, mostly for typing. Stand mode is best for watching movies and video chatting, which reminds me yes this laptop does have an HD webcam and microphone. Tent mode is recommended for viewing photos or playing with apps and games. And finally tablet mode is good for browsing social media feeds or reading. They all work pretty well for what they’re intended for and Windows will automatically switch between tablet and normal mode when you’re rotating the screen past the 180 degree mark which is really convenient. The only weird thing I noticed is when it’s in stand mode the speakers are on the bottom facing towards the surface it’s sitting on which is a bit awkward. But overall, the 360 degree hinge is an awesome feature because it allows for speedy productivity but also convenience for those times when you just want to procrastinate and binge watch Netflix all weekend long.
You know you want to. So at less than $800 the HP Pavilion x360 is a great fit for students on a budget looking for a productive yet fun laptop that should be able to last them quite a while. Let me know what you think in the comments below. As always, my name is Andy. Thank you for watching this review. I hope you enjoyed it. Be sure to subscribe and I will talk to you in the next video..