To start things off I need to get something off my chest – I’m not a fan of convertible notebooks. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy a device that handily features two or more form factors. A well-made tablet-hybrid for example can be great.
Convertible notebooks, however, are a different proposition, as their size and weight don’t fare well while converted into a tablet-esque form.
That said, I’m always up for having my opinions challenged, and stepping up to the plate is the HP Envy x360 Convertible notebook.
So is it a great multitasking, multi-format device? Let’s find out.
Svelte, but hefty
The first things that strike you about the Envy x360 is its design. It looks the part of a premium device without being too flashy, especially in the dark ash silver colour option of the review model featured here.
The notebook is also quite slim, standing at a height of 14.7mm when closed, but don’t let that fool you. In hand the x360 is quite weighty at 1.3kg, which gives it a reassuring amount of sturdiness that gives you the confidence that it can handle a knock or too.
That said it’s not a rugged device, and with a R18 999 price tag (RRP) attached, it’s still the kind of notebook you’ll want to handle with care.
Looking over the rest of the Envy x360, there aren’t as many designed flourishes as one may expect from an HP Spectre device. That said there’s the woodgrain-style finish to the central hinge of the notebook that catches the eye when closed, and one upon the triangular-shaped grills sitting above the keyboard is also a pleasing change from the norm.
From a design perspective then the Envy x360 is well-balanced, by offering up enough nice touches to differentiate it from the crowd, but also holding back a bit and not going over the top, which is something the Spectre range is sometimes guilty of.
Lacking some punch
Now it’s time to shift to the internal elements, which on this model, have been beefed up a bit, but not necessarily in the areas it needs to.
To that end an AMD Ryzen 7 3700U processor is doing the heavy lifting, with an embedded Radeon RX Vega 10 graphics processor thrown into the mix. The area where things fall short a bit is on the amount of RAM on offer, with 8GB DDR4 being served up. Doubling things in this regard would have been a better move in my books, and if a model with 16GB RAM is available, I’d advise people to head in that direction.
The reason being that although 8GB of RAM is solid enough for more basic multitasking, it falls short on any of the creative tasks or workloads that users may be requiring. Should you be doing a lot of video editing and rendering, a bit more is needed.
That said, the Envy x360 is more than capable of handling the basics, and showed no signs of strain when working with Office 365 or Google Docs.
Give and Take
Now to talk about what the Envy x360 does, and does not, do well.
First the good, with a bright and crisp display that’s a pleasure to work on. At 13.3″ this screen offers 1920×1080 visuals, along with being touch-enabled. Speaking of which, I was happy to see that there was an overabundance of fingerprint smudging or streaking when using the x360 in tablet mode, which is often a concern with convertible notebooks.
The typing and trackpad experience is solid too. The keys are lacking a little bit of snappiness while typing (which is simply a personal preference), but the layout and size of keys lend themselves to quick typing when needed. As for the trackpad it’s a rapid and responsive, but the stylus tool included in the box is less than ideal.
It charges via USB Type-C, but the amount of battery life afforded to you or indeed when it’s fully charged is difficult to gauge. It’s also clunky and cumbersome to use, and for graphic designers or artists (not that I am one), does not offer the dexterity needed.
Add to this the fact that trying to create illustrations, or scribe in general while in tablet mode is a thoroughly frustrating process.
Sticking with the tablet mode, the aforementioned weight of the x360 is great while it’s sitting steady in notebook mode, but makes the device unwieldy in tablet mode, especially if you plan to do things one handed. The only reason I can find for its convertible nature, is to place the notebook in tent or display mode to watch videos or movies on its superb screen.
Aiming to end on a good note, the battery life of the 53Wh lihium-ion option onboard is great. My past experiences with HP notebooks has served up lacklustre battery life, but the Envy x360 manages a solid nine to 10 hours without needing a visit to a plug point. How this changes in a year or two though, is unclear.
There is a lot to love about the Envy x360 Convertible. A subtly impressive design, great battery life and brilliant display tick some important boxes. The boxes that are left unticked are the tablet mode and a lack of RAM for processor-intensive tasks, with the latter proving quite significant should you have creative requirements of the notebook.
As such the x360 may leave you wanting in the long run, and when you’re paying close to R20k for a notebook, it’s hard to make a case for it when other options are on the market.
If you are going to opt for an HP Envy x360 Convertible notebook, make sure it’s one with 16GB RAM.