The HP EliteBook x360 1030 G2 comes with a range of processors, ram, storage, screens, touch or not, and one has an innovative Sure View integrated privacy screen to keep prying eyes out. HP’s Elite range of PCs, notebooks and more are reserved for business use.
Let’s start with the Elite name – quality you can swear by, not at. They are top specified, have Mil-STD 810G durability, incredible reliability and longevity.
My first EliteBook in 2010 gave magnificent 24/7 service as my production computer. But I need later technology like Thunderbolt 3 to expand its capabilities. The old EliteBook was fitted with an SSD and repurposed as a Plex media server/TV tuner. I expect to get several more years out of it – it is that reliable.
It is natural that when you have such a good, trouble-free run with a quality brand you go back to it as the first option.
You generally won’t find the Elite range at major retailers. They are sold via HP business dealers or online at HP. What you will find at retailers is HP’s consumer range including the Pavilion, Envy, and the upmarket Spectre range – great but not Mil-STD and not quite as flexible.
My shopping list – Or as my wife puts it, my shopping “lust”
I wanted everything – fastest processor, plenty of ram, big storage, great connectivity, a 360° hinge design, touch and pen-enabled screen, great keyboard and trackpad, good sound – yes, an HP Elite or perhaps high-end consumer HP Spectre, shopping list. The only problem is that the budget was about $2.5K so there would have to be some compromise.
I believe that every piece of tech is a compromise from the ideal vision of its creators to the realities of budget, available technology, shipping on time, and market acceptance – else all products would be perfect. And the point of Gadget Guy’s independent, objective, reviews is to reveal those compromises. You can but strive to buy good, better, or best selecting what is most and least important features to you. But overall, it is too easy to end up with mediocracy especially if price is the main factor.
I decided that a Thunderbolt USB-C port (40Gbps data/charge) was mandatory and it would be nice to have an array of other ports like HDMI, USB-A 3.1 micro-SD etc., to reduce the need for an external docking station or dongle. That reduced choices to a handful of brands and models.
The choice of a 360° hinge was due to the limitations of traditional clamshell notebooks – open or closed – and there are times I need tent style, presentation mode, or tablet mode and this does it all. I travel a lot and tent mode is amazing as a video player on small aircraft seat-back tables. Tablet mode is great for reading.
The choice of touchscreen is a no-brainer – I really don’t know why anyone makes non-touch anymore. While I would not have minded getting a 2K or 4K screen these are battery life suckers, so HD was acceptable as for my use – documents, web surfing and still/video content. I am now used to pen input in Windows 10 so that was a given too.
I started a spreadsheet to track my choices. While many of those specifications could be filled by Microsoft Surface Book, Dell XPS, Lenovo, ASUS, Acer and more there were a few wildcards that made the choice easy.
The whole shebang! (everything involved in what is under consideration)
Take it as a given (see the specifications list later) that it met or exceeded my shopping list with a few notable extra inclusions.
Thunderbolt 3 data/charge and a range of expansion ports including HDMI and an extra 90W power port for either a 12V cigarette lighter adaptor power or HP 240V power brick. The latter turned out to be very useful.
It is very light and thin
HP Sure View privacy screen can be activated to obscure/blank the screen for anyone viewing it side on. Great for coffee shops and it won’t disturb your fellow flyers. I also like the Gorilla Glass covering and the amazingly thin screen/lid section.
HP’s collaboration with B&O adds better sound quality from four stereo down firing speakers under the keyboard. Dual voice tracking noise cancellation mics and a 3.5mm combo jack complete the audio experience.
The Precision-certified glass trackpad is superb and will move the cursor from upper right to lower left in one swipe – makes mice redundant. Plus, it has two-finger pinch zoom and scroll and up to four fingers tap.
The active pen is precise and emulates pen on paper very well.
The keyboard lives up to the Elite pedigree for speed, comfort and accuracy.
NFC is a bonus for easily connecting Bluetooth devices
Intel’s dual-band AC-8265, 2 x 2 MU-MIMO AC wireless for fast throughput, Bluetooth and Wi-Di Miracast
The fingerprint reader compliments the dual IR Windows Hello camera
An Intel VPro chip for added security and extra security and malware resistance from
HP Secure Erase
Security lock slot
HP Client Security
HP Security Manager
HP Password Manager
Absolute Persistence Module
3-year standard parts, labour and on-site warranty (Elite standard)
What it does not have
GPS/4G – that comes with a sim card option
I started looking at Intel i7, 16GB ram, at 512-1TB PCI NVMe SSD but these would have blown the budget, so the i5/8GB/256GB SSD with micro SD expansion is the budget choice.
A second USB-C port but there are plenty of expansion ports
2/4K screen but HD is much better for battery life
Sorry for the long preamble but you need to know why this is an outstanding choice.
Back to the review – how good is it?
World’s only integrated Sure View screen really works and HD screen is good
Sure View was jointly developed by HP and 3M to reduce “visual hacking”. Just press F2 and only you can only see the screen straight on in a 70° cone instead of 178° – best to keep customers prying eyes away. It is fine under office lighting but not great in direct sunlight. It works well – if you don’t need it perhaps look at other x360 models.
Screen viewing angle is important – you need to ensure it is at the right angle to get the brightest image. Daylight viewing is fine. It reproduces 109% of the sRGB colour gamut (higher than its competitors) but its brightness at 239 nits is below its competitors at up to 300 nits.
The IPS screen is crisp with a slight colour coolness but the Intel Graphics can adjust that to whatever you want. There is the typical IPS edge glow (edge-lit) but overall colours and detail are good.
Buried under the B&O control panel software is a Conexant ISST audio chip which is an adequate performer with a maximum of 24-bit, 48,000Hz sound. Volume wise this translates to between 60-70dB (conversation to a vacuum cleaner levels) peaking at 80dB without distortion. Its frequency response is about 100kHz to 16Hz (human range is 20kHz-20Hz). While it does not produce spectacular sound, it is fine for personal music and movies.
Bass and treble are recessed producing a mid-centric sound best suited for conference calls and Skype. The B&O control panel allows for up to a 6dB boost and offers voice, movie and music pre-sets.
The audio chip outputs a wider range to Bluetooth and an external amplifier – closer to 38Hz-18kHz and gives a clean feed.
The front-facing screen mics can be tuned to you or spatially separated for a conference.
Summary: Good sound for a business grade device.
HP claim 16.5 hours use (methodology undefined but you can bet everything is switched off or throttled back) and I could not get near that. In a typical office day, I got 7-9 hours and an HD video loop test at 50% brightness was about 8 hours.
USB-C charge from 0-100% is about 2.5 hours. Although not tested test A$199 HP 90W brick for apparently has fast charge that will halve recharge time. The battery can be easily replaced by a technician.
HP Thunderbolt 3 Dock A$429 (not tested)
You can link up to 10 devices at once through ports that include Thunderbolt 3 (which also supports Display Port 1.2 and USB 3.1 Gen 2), four USB 3.0, RJ-45, VGA, combo audio, and two additional Display Port ports. It comes with the 90W “brick” mentioned above. It will support two x 4K displays
Rugged Mil-STD construction and enterprise quality build
Stunning looks, thin and light
Silent running – no fan noise on the i5
Good Wacom Pen
Love the keyboard and trackpad – among the best
X360 is the most useful form factor
Thunderbolt 3 port for charge and data – many other ports reduce the need for a dock but Thunderbolt 40Mbps docks are amazing supporting multiple 4K screens and more.
Great enterprise-level security including fingerprint and Windows Hello
Sure View is great if you need it to protect sensitive data
Dedicated keys for Skype, Outlook etc.
You can easily remove the bottom panel to upgrade the SSD, replace battery or add 4G
Larger top and bottom screen bezels than the Spectre – no big issue
Chunky external power brick – it is big at 400g
Would have liked second USB-C port but 2 x USB-A ports are great
Average audio does not quite deliver what I expect of B&O tuning
This is a business grade notebook – good for several years of hard business use. It meets 95% of my shopping list at a price that is within budget. Add to that HP Australia’s very good 3 year warranty and after sales service and it is the clear winner.
8GB DDR4 – 2133 – dual channel so shared video memory does not affect CPU performance.
16GB on i7 model. Non-upgradable
Intel Dual Band 802.11a/b/g/n/ac (2×2) with Bluetooth 4.2 Combo (vPro), NFC, Miracast
4G with GPS available as an option. Obtained 600/450Mbps down/up in Wi-Fi tests. Good.
(1) USB Type-C with Thunderbolt
(2) USB-A 3.1 Gen 1 (1 charging)
(1) HDMI 1.4
(1) External micro SIM (with 4G option)
(1) AC power
(1) Headphone/microphone combo jack
(1) Micro-SD Card Reader
(1) Smart card reader
Amazing to have these as most competitors simply have one USB-C port.
4 x B&O tuned down firing speakers
2 x ANC mics
3.5mm audio jack
Camera and mic are Skype approved but need even office lighting for best results.
Speakers resonate through the keyboard as well as down firing.
HP Elite Durakey covered Chiclet style with backlight. 16 x 16mm, 1.2mm throw. 65g force.
111 x 65mm glass trackpad. Microsoft Precision certified – best you can get
Achieves about 95% of speed in a typing test. Absolutely no flex when typing – great.
Glass trackpad covers full screen movement
Protects against BIOS attacks with HP Sure Start Gen3, blocks malicious websites with HP Sure Click, and keeps visual hackers out with optional HP Sure View. Plus HP end-to-end device management software, TPM 2 and full Windows Hello security
Really appreciate the power of Sure Start if you get malware.
Windows Hello is fast to load.
Fingerprint reader is very quick.
Battery and charger
65 W Smart USB Type-C AC Adapter
Also has standard 90W charge port for HP chargers
317 x 218.4 x 15 mm x 1.28kg
Made from a single aluminium block and CNC milled – very strong.
Windows 10 Pro
I only need Home but the added ability to join a domain is good. It also supports most Linux varieties – great for testing
A$2599 – i5 touch models start from $1950 and i7 from $2549