With low-power convertible laptops priced lower than many tablets, deciding between the two platforms can be a challenge.
HP not only offers many new low-priced laptops but lets you choose between Windows and Google Chrome OS. Also reviewed: An elegant alternative to cloud storage and Bluetooth speakers that deliver more than sound.
HP’s bargain-priced convertible touchscreen
HP’s Windows-based, convertible Pavilion 11t-n000 x360 (more info) weighs in at just 3.3 pounds, but it includes an 11-inch screen, full-size keyboard, wide touchpad, and more I/O ports than you’ll find on far more expensive portables. Best of all, it’s priced at a mere U.S. $399.
The x360 is so named for its versatile double hinge, which rotates 360 degrees. Swing the screen up for use in a standard laptop configuration, or flip it all the way over for use as a tablet — albeit a somewhat heavy one. In between, it can be set as a space-saving tent or, with the keyboard facing down, in tilted-screen mode. Unlike some more expensive convertibles, however, its screen can’t rotate from side to side.
The 1,366-by-768-pixel touchscreen (common among the under-$500 laptops) proved quite responsive to finger-based navigation — as did the wide touchpad. The keyboard’s low-profile keys (often referred to as island or chiclet keys) had good feedback and made typing comfortable.
You’d expect an under-$500 convertible to have somewhat anemic performance and features, but that’s not the case with the x360. It’s powered by an older Intel quad-core Pentium N3520 CPU and comes with 4GB of RAM and a 500GB mechanical hard drive (not the solid-state drive often found on more expensive notebooks). The system wasn’t particularly snappy, but there were no lags when playing video or graphic-intense games. Of course, standard business apps such as Microsoft Office and Adobe Acrobat performed without a hitch. Initial boot time was an incredible 15 seconds and shutdown just 10 seconds (when Windows Update wasn’t active).
On my run-down battery test (a video on repeat with screen brightness set to the default 75 percent), the x360 lasted 5 hours, 33 minutes — not fabulous, but surprisingly good, given its smallish two-cell battery. (More expensive portables typically have three-to-six-cell batteries.)