Privacy and security should be at the top of mind for anyone using a computer. Generally, this means having a strong password or passphrase when you log on, possibly biometric security and 2FA as well, and encrypting data. But the hardware we use everyday can go a little further. HP's Elitebook x360 is an example of what can be done on the hardware side to protect your data.
When it comes to everyday use, the Elitebook x360 ticks all the boxes you'd expect from an enterprise-ready notebook computer. The review unit I tested shipped with an Intel Core i7 vPro that's more than powerful enough for business users. Throw in 8GB of DDR4 memory (you go to 16GB) and a capacious 256GB SSD (there are options ranging for 128GB all the way to 1TB) and you've got a very handy business companion.
Wireless connectivity is covered off with 802.11ac WiFi, Bluetooth 4.2 and NFC. You can hook up external gear over HDMI, a pair of USB 3 ports with Type A connectors and USB C port with Thunderbolt. A microSD slot and 3.5mm combo microphone/headphone jack rounds out the plugging and playing side of things.
The display on my review unit did a great job with business apps, movies, photos and anything else I could throw at it. And while I had the 1920 by 1080 version, you can opt for the 4K version of the 13.3-inch display. And that display pivots all the way around so the x360 can used as a tablet with the pen that's supplied in the box.
In a market filled with great portable computers, all that sounds great but does little to make it stand out from the crowd.
HP has added some nifty security features to the Elitebook x360 that separate it from many of the other computer it competes against.
When you first boot the Elitebook x360, you'll see a message telling you the computer is "Protected by HP Sure Start".
Sure Start is not new. It was first announced back in 2013 as a way to protect the BIOS from being altered by malware. Sure Start is able to detect if a system's BIOS has been tampered with. Earlier this year, HP released the third generation of this technology.
If Sure Start detects tampering with the BIOS, it is able to restore things by using a copy that is securely held is what the company calls "Private Sure Start Flash" before the system boots to the operating system.
In addition, there's a fingerprint scanner that will not only allow you to authenticate logging in to the operating systems but also when you power the notebook on.
One of my colleagues is quite protective of what's on his screen and has a privacy screen over his display. HP has incorporated a system called Sure View that is invoked by pressing the F2 key. That's a far neater solution that a clip/stick on screen.
Sure View works with a proprietary backlight technology and with a screen coating developed by 3M called Light Control Film. When you press the F2 key, the backlight uses two light sources to disperse the light, making it very difficult to read the screen unless you are sitting right in front of it. It reduces the viewing area from around 70 degrees to under 20 degrees.
The system is very effective. You can adjust the effect by using the F3 and F4 keys, which adjust the backlight. And while you might expect such a feature to diminish battery life, HP says it can, depending on settings, improve battery life by up to 15%.
When it comes to the crunch, the key features that separate the HP Elitebook x360 from tis competition are the security features. Sure Start is great but it's the sort of thing many users will simply forget about.
But if you're trying to get security front and centre, Sure View is a great way to help people become more conscious of privacy.
As tested, the HP EliteBook x360 retails for $2799 and ships with a three-year next day onsite warranty.