HP EliteBook x360 1040 G7 First Impressions

Posted on November 12, 2020 by Paul Thurrott in Hardware, Mobile, Windows 10 with 3 Comments

In 2019, I reviewed one of the best portable PCs I’ve ever used. And so it is with a certain sense of anticipation that I now present its successor, the HP EliteBook x360 1040 G7. It has big shoes to fill, but my initial reaction is that HP appears to have delivered a worthy sequel.

The basics, of course, are the same: The new EliteBook 1040 x360 is a 14-inch premium and business-class convertible PC with impeccable build quality, professional looks, great productivity performance, and a nice combination of new and legacy ports.

HP EliteBook x360 1040 G7 (top) and G5 (bottom)

That said, there are changes. Key among them is that the new EliteBook x360 1040 is significantly smaller from a footprint perspective than its predecessors. It’s literally almost an inch less deep from front-to-back.

The display bezels, too, are much smaller and are finally right where they need to be: HP says that the display to body ratio is now an incredible 89 percent.

In keeping with other 2020 HP premium PCs, the new EliteBook x360 1040 features a more angular look, with tapered edges, and it’s really starting to grow on me. It does look a bit weird around the back corners and isn’t functional as it is on the recent Spectre x360s.

But on the display lid and front of the keyboard deck, in particular, it’s a great look.

Also in keeping with other 2020 HP premium PCs, the new EliteBook x360 1040 gets a nice keyboard upgrade with an integrated power button and fingerprint reader. I really like this design, and while the previous-gen 1040 was a long-time favorite, this seems even better in early testing.

Of course, the keyboard change also means that the new EliteBook x360 1040 no longer has a power button and volume buttons on its sides as did previous versions. The old placement of these buttons was due to the devices’ convertible form factor, so they could be accessed no matter the configuration. But I suspect HP discovered that few customers were leaving their x360s in tablet mode. Whatever the reason, I prefer the new layout too.

Beyond those buttons, the port arrangement is basically unchanged from last year. There is a full-sized USB-A port, a nano-SIM card slot, and a headphone/mic jack on the left, as before.

And there is a full-sized USB-A port, an HDMI-out port, and two Thunderbolt 3/USB-C ports on the right.

As before, the placement of those USB-C ports can be problematic: The bundled power adapter is USB-C based, and that means that the power cord will always be placed more towards the front of the PC than I’d like, and if you use an external mouse (and are a righty), that cable can get in the way.

From an internal components perspective, the new EliteBook x360 1040 is a logical upgrade from the previous generation, but the review unit is quite a bit less capable than the version I reviewed last year: That’s fine, as this version is better optimized for portability and battery life. This time around, the review unit includes a 10th-generation Intel Core-i7-10810U CPU, 16 GB of RAM, and 512 GB of SSD storage. The display is a step down too, and for the same reasons: It’s a not-particularly bright 16:9 1080p panel, but it’s anti-glare and low-power, and outputs 400 nits of light.

Speaking of battery life, HP says that the review configuration is good for 19.25 hours of video playback, so real-world battery life should be about half that, maybe 10 hours or so, which is fantastic. There is fast-charging, too, so you can get a 50 percent charge in just 30 minutes, also fantastic.

Included in the box: a USB-A to USB-C adapter, a smartpen, and the power adapter

I would normally save this for the review, but there are some software features worth mentioning here.

The first is a unique capability called Presence Aware that uses an HP proximity sensor to determine whether anyone is front of the PC. When you step away, the display dims and then the PC locks. And when anyone returns to the front of the PC, Windows Hello facial recognition can then automatically sense if it’s you and, if so, sign you back in automatically. I normally just use a fingerprint reader, but I’ll use the camera too so I can test this.

The second is particularly interesting for fans of Windows: HP is integrating its power management controls directly into the Power slider that appears when you select the Power icon in the system tray. As you may know, this lets you configure the power mode between best battery life and best performance, but most people probably don’t think about it too much when plugged in. That’s where HP steps in: If you select best battery life while plugged in, the 1040 will offer a quieter operating experience with less fan noise. And if you move it all the way over to best performance, you’ll get what HP calls a massive performance boost; it’s reportedly up to 22 percent better; will also be testing this.

Pricing starts at $1649. As reviewed, the HP EliteBook x360 1040 G7 will set you back about $2499.

There’s more going on here, of course, but that’s what the review is for. More soon.

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