Would you like to give a try to modern 2-in-1 laptop? Well, here’s a candidate for you: HP Pavilion x360 13-a110dx, a convertible notebook featuring latest 5th Generation i3 processor and 4GB RAM. At a glance, I don’t see much wrong with it. But like often with these things, the devil may hide in the details…
HP Pavilion x360 13-a110dx is powered by Intel Core i3-5010U processor. Techies can right away see couple of things about it. To begin with, the 5xxx number reveals it’s a 5th generation (a.k.a the latest) model, so some improvements can be expected. Another thing is the U suffix which means ultra low power (a.k.a less performance, more battery life). Indeed, this processor can’t compete with some power hungry mobile Core i3s, but it still boasts a nice 2.1GHz clock speed on its two cores. Sufficient power is guaranteed for home and office use, and even some heavier programs on occasional basis are not too much for the i3-5010U.
The memory configuration is one 4GB DDR3L module. The manual states there’s only one memory slot and it can take a maximum 8GB (HP spare part number 693374-005) chip. So yes, the RAM on this model can be upgraded, but you have to remove a set of components first, including battery and the system board. It can be done yourself but indeed requires some knowledge.
The hard drive is 500GB big and runs on 5400RPM. It’s the most basic storage drive for a modern laptop. Again, I can see from the manual that upgrading the hard drive for, say, 256GB SSD is possible. Some tinkering is required, just like with RAM upgrade, but a tech savvy person can do the hard drive swap no problem.
Display and graphics
The specialty of HP Pavilion x360 13-a110dx is its turning screen. As the product name suggests, the display has a 360 degree hinge, so you can convert the laptop to a tablet in the blink of an eye. Naturally, the display has touch support, a good companion for the pre-installed Windows 8.1 (64-bit). The screen itself is 13.3 inches big, so smaller than the most common 15.6″ size. Full HD displays are left for expensive notebooks, this one has 1366×768 resolution.
This model has no fancy graphics engine. Instead, there’s the integrated Intel HD 5500 responsible for offering a smooth gaming environment. Well, that’s likely to happen only on low settings and resolution. For example, on such details Battlefield 4 should get only 20-25 frames per second. The popular GTA V would reach 20 or less. However, if your selection of games consists of older titles, such as Diablo 3 or Dirt 3, you can enjoy smooth frames even with some eye candy turned on.
Ports of HP Pavilion x360 13-a110dx include two USB 3.0 and one USB 2.0. That’s actually good, because for this price you usually get only one USB 3.0. You’ll also find HDMI output on the notebook which means it can be used through HDTV.
It looks like networking is done well on this model. It features a dual-band 802.11ac WiFi as the primary connection, with 100Mbps RJ-45 port acting as a backup. As a bonus, Bluetooth is enabled.
HP Pavilion x360 13-a110dx is many things, but for DVD burning it doesn’t work. At least not before you get an external optical drive. Luckily, they are rather cheap, costing around 30 bucks. The built-in SD card reader can be used too, but that obviously does the trick only if you have data on memory cards.
Some real tablets have two cameras, although this hybrid model has just one, a front-facing HD webcam with a microphone. It works for Skype video chats.
Any other things you should keep in mind?
HP Pavilion x360 13-a110dx should be a decent pick for traveling. At 13.3″ and 4 pounds it’s a breeze to carry around if you ask me. The 3-cell battery should work for ~6 hours, which is great for this cheap machine.
The keyboard is not backlit on this model. Also, despite the fact product image shows so, the laptop has no numeric keypad on the right.
Only looking at the price of HP Pavilion x360 13-a110dx might lead you think you’re getting a B class computer. But after inspecting its performance and features further I can say it’s a very decent rig. You’ll be getting a new Core i3 processor, 360 degrees turning touchscreen, two USB 3.0 ports and an A/C WiFi. In addition to daily tasks, also some gaming is possible, just remember the limitations of an integrated graphics unit. Tough upgrade of RAM and hard drive might be seen as small disadvantages. But all in all, I can see mostly positive things – especially for this low price. If you can catch the laptop for discount (~20% at the time of writing this review), I definitely recommend going for it.