HP EliteBook x360 830 G6 review: Compact and solid, with good security and battery life

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  • Editors' rating
    8.3 Excellent

Pros

  • Very solid build
  • Mobile broadband option
  • Sure View privacy screen
  • Sure Sense anti-malware
  • Very good battery life

Cons

  • Poor viewing angles
  • Disappointing speakers
  • No privacy cover for the webcam
  • Stylus has no on-board housing/charge slot

HP's EliteBook range of professional laptops keeps growing, the latest addition being the 13.3-inch EliteBook x360 830 G6, a 360-degree rotating, ultraportable 2-in-1 convertible. It comes in three iterations in the UK at the time of writing, starting at £1,234.80 (inc. VAT). You'll have to spend more (£1,438.80 inc. VAT, to be precise) to get our review unit, which included a 1000-nit touch screen, a stylus and HP's excellent Sure View screen security system. All models come with HPs Sure Sense anti-malware security software and Wi-Fi 6.

HP's EliteBook laptops have a sleek but solid industrial design, and the 830 G6's aluminium chassis provides plenty of protection for the innards, and the lid is among the toughest I've seen: I could not bend or bow it at all in my hands.

Open up and you'll find the distinctive stippled speaker grille sitting above the keyboard, with Bang & Olufsen branding below it in a discreet grey.

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The EliteBook x360 830 G6 is a 360-degree screen-rotating convertible, powered by 8th-generation Core i5 or i7 processors. Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) is supported, along with optional mobile broadband. Our review unit weighed 1.35kg.

Images: HP Inc

The 360-degree rotating hinge means you can use the laptop in tablet mode and all points in between. The hinge is well made -- easy to move around, yet rigid when the laptop is in the position you need.

The stylus is magnetic, and will cling to the right edge of the chassis and to the wrist rest. In the former location it obscures many of the ports and connectors, while the latter is impractical if you want to type. There's no housing on the chassis to accommodate the stylus, and its battery has to be charged independently. These features make it far less attractive than styli that live inside a laptop and charge in situ. For comparison, see the Fujitsu Tablet Lifebook U939X and Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga (4th Gen).

This laptop's thin edges taper ever so slightly towards the front, and the whole thing measures a very portable 306mm wide by 21mm deep by 16.9mm thick. My smallest 15-litre backpack had no trouble accommodating it. However that strong and tough chassis means this isn't the lightest of compact laptops, with a starting weight 1.35kg.

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The EliteBook x360 830 G6 in tablet mode, with the stylus attached magnetically on the side (where it obstructs a number of ports).

Image: Sandra Vogel/ZDNet

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The screen sits inside narrow short-edge bezels and much deeper long-edge bezels. Narrow bezels are great for reducing a laptop's overall size, and for delivering a compelling viewing experience -- especially for video watching. But deeper bezels are better at preventing accidental screen presses when you're working in tablet mode. Deeper bezels on the long edges, as found on this laptop, make for a good tablet-mode experience if you stick to portrait orientation, which seems like a good compromise.

My review unit had a 13.3-inch FHD (1,920 x 1,080) IPS touch screen with 1000-nits brightness. Touch was responsive and brightness perfectly good enough for working outdoors -- although my testing was during fairly dull October days rather than full summer sun. The screen has a matte finish, which will be welcome if you find reflective screens challenging. However, viewing angles are limited on both the vertical and horizontal planes. It's rare these days to see a laptop with such poor viewing angles, and sharing information with someone sitting next to you may be a challenge. 

SEE: 20 pro tips to make Windows 10 work the way you want (free PDF)    

On that front, our review sample of the EliteBook x360 830 G6 comes with Sure View, which is a very effective security feature that makes it difficult for anyone on either side to view the screen. Indeed, I'd go further. Turn Sure View on by tapping the F2 key and someone sitting next to you will have to crane their neck to see what you are doing -- in fact, they'd almost need to bump heads with you to see. The downside is that you might have trouble seeing what you're doing too, as Sure View significantly dims the screen to achieve its goal. 

A 360-degree rotating laptop should be good for media viewing, but the matte finish and poor viewing angles of the EliteBook x360 830 G6's screen are not ideal for this use case. The speakers could be better, too: I found them a bit too treble-rich and bass-poor to really satisfy. Take note if you do a lot of laptop-based presentations, video conferencing or video watching.

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Despite the x360 830 G6's compact dimensions, the keyboard is comfortable -- if somewhat noisy -- to type on.

Image: Sandra Vogel/ZDNet  

The keyboard is a pleasure to use. The keys are well weighted, and bouncy, springing back after being pressed. The keys are quite clacky and typing generates a fair amount of noise, so this may not be the ideal laptop for ultra-quiet working environments. The backlight comes on automatically as you start to type, and can be cycled through two brightness levels via a Fn key. The cursor keys are well thought-out, with left/home and right/end both full-size keys, while the up and down keys are half height and about 1.5x standard width.

The Enter key is double width and single height, but I didn't find this problematical. Considering this laptop's compactness it was extremely comfortable to work with, and my touch-typing speed was not compromised at all.

As is usual with HP EliteBook laptops a pair of keys on the Fn key row cater for calls. In versions of this laptop with mobile broadband support, the pop-out SIM slot is on the right edge of the chassis. The touchpad is large and responsive. 

There is a fingerprint scanner in the wrist rest, and the EliteBook x360 830 G6 supports Windows Hello via its webcam. HP Sure Sense is also included among the security features. This anti malware software is, says HP, more sophisticated than other services. It incorporates deep learning to help it gauge files as 'OK' or 'suspect', and like other tools, relies on off-device systems to keep itself up to date. 

Given HP's focus on security, it's surprising that there's no privacy cover for the webcam. Other manufacturers deploy this straightforward but useful feature, and we'd like to see HP follow suit.

An ultraportable laptop can easily suffer in the battery life department, but HP has done a good job in this respect. I deployed my usual real-world use test involving writing into a web app while streaming music and some occasional video, and reading web pages. I let the laptop set screen brightness to its recommended level for working on battery, which was a shade below 50%. I might raise this a little for some tasks, but I found it perfectly fine for office based working.

In a three-hour period of continuous working the 50Wh battery depleted by 27%. This suggests that all-day working should be entirely possible without access to mains power, provided you are disciplined about charging.

HP has brought the EliteBook x360 830 G6 bang up to date with Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) support. My review unit had an Intel Core i5-8365U processor, 8GB of RAM, graphics courtesy of Intel's integrated UHD Graphics 620 GPU and 256GB of SSD storage. The OS was Windows 10 Pro.

The left edge has the power connector and a USB 3.1 port, plus a SmartCard slot. There's also a volume rocker here, which comes in handy when working in tablet mode.

Most of the connectivity is on the right edge, where, as noted earlier, the stylus can get in the way if you use its magnetic attachment system. Here you'll find another USB 3.1 port, two USB-C ports with Thunderbolt, a full-size HDMI port and a 3.5mm headset jack, plus a round-pin charge connector.

One oddity relating to that charge connector: the power brick I was supplied with uses one of the USB-C ports, rendering that dedicated round-pin redundant -- and, irritatingly, blocking a USB-C port into the bargain.

Conclusions

HP's EliteBook x360 830 G6 isn't the lightest 13.3-inch laptop around, but it's among the most solidly built. The screen's 360-degree rotation is based on a strong and secure hinge, optional mobile broadband is welcome, and the many security features -- including Sure View and Sure Sense -- are compelling. Battery life is impressive too.

On the downsides, viewing angles are poor even before you use Sure View, the stylus suffers from an awkward tethering system and no on-device housing/charging system, the speakers could be better, and there's no privacy cover for the webcam.

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Specifications

System
Notebook Type 2-in-1

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