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Review: The 5 Best Features On HP's EliteBook x360 1040

The CRN Test Center gives high marks to the display, portability and keyboard on the 14-inch convertible from HP Inc.

HP Inc.'s EliteBook x360 series is one of our favorite business notebook lineups at the CRN Test Center, thanks to its consistent excellence around design and usability.

The PC maker continues to find areas for major improvement with each release of a new EliteBook x360, however. The EliteBook x360 1040—the first 14-inch EliteBook convertible--is no exception, with some significant enhancements even over models launched relatively recently in the series.

[Related: CES 2019: 5 Cool HP Personal Systems Launches]

The EliteBook x360 1040 takes the place of the clamshell EliteBook 1040 model in the premium, aluminum-bodied HP commercial notebook lineup.

What follows are the five best features we found on the HP EliteBook x360 1040, which has a starting price of $1,499 (or $2,349 as reviewed, with 16 GB of RAM and 512 GB of storage).

Display 

The 14-inch touch display on our EliteBook x360 1040 tryout model is definitely nice--FHD resolution, vivid picture, up to 400 nits for plenty of brightness. But the bigger display achievement, in our view, is on the display bezels (the border around the screen). For the x360 1040, the bezels are far smaller on the left and right sides than on past EliteBook x360 models we've tried; HP says those bezels are a full 41 percent smaller this time, in fact.

What we even appreciate more, though, is the smaller "chin" bezel underneath the display. One design choice that hasn't resonated with us on other notebooks is the decision to minimize the bezels on the top, left and right sides, but then stick with a large chin on the bottom. The EliteBook x360 1040 has no such asymmetry, with the top and bottom bezels now comparable in size.

Portability

The other big advantage of the smaller bezels is it allows for reducing the overall size of the notebook. The EliteBook x360 1040 actually boasts a 2-percent smaller footprint than the 13.3-inch G2 model in the EliteBook x360 series—so you get 5 percent more display space in a smaller notebook overall.

Along with fitting a 14-inch screen onto a 13.3-inch chassis, HP has also kept the EliteBook x360 1040 lightweight at 2.99 pounds. We found it an ideal device for taking on the road in recent months. The x360 1040 is also fairly thin, measuring at 0.66 of an inch thick.

Keyboard

In a word, the keyboard on the EliteBook x360 1040 is wonderful. The keys are sturdy but comfortable, and they're very quiet, too. You can fly through your typing on this keyboard. Basically, we want this to be the keyboard on every notebook we test. (Apple, take notice.)

Battery Life

For our tryout model (running a quad-core Intel chip, the Core i7-8650U)—and featuring a FHD touch screen rather than the available 4K configuration—battery life was solid. We achieved eight hours of heavy usage for the EliteBook x360 1040, including lots of multi-tasking across apps and using the battery-draining Chrome browser a good deal, with the screen brightness set to 75 percent. That result is nearly as good as on a smaller model in the lineup--the 13.3-inch EliteBook x360 G3--which yielded 8.5 hours of battery life in our tryout a few months back.

Connectivity & Security

While they were less relevant to our tryout, the connectivity and security configuration options on the EliteBook x360 1040 are worth highlighting for business users.

On security, HP offers its second-generation integrated privacy screen, Sure View, as an option for the x360 1040. Other key security features include Sure Recover, which allows an image to be restored even without internet connectivity, by accessing a securely stored image; Sure Click, which ensures that malware doesn't leave browser tabs to reach the PC; and the fourth generation of HP's self-healing BIOS technology, Sure Start.

The EliteBook x360 1040 is also available with optional 4G LTE connectivity, so that the notebook can serve as an always-connected device for users. Along with rarely having to lose web connectivity, LTE brings security advantages by not having to connect to potentially untrustworthy WiFi hotspots. HP also specifies that the notebook offers "gigabit" speed LTE, suggesting it will offer faster LTE than some other devices on the market.

Connectivity-wise, it also ought to be mentioned that HP is continuing to prioritize port options with the x360 1040, which should be a relief to many corporate users. The notebook helpfully includes two USB-A connectors along with two USB-C, HDMI and nano-SIM.

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