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HP Envy x2 review

Laptop? Tablet? Ultrabook? Who cares, the HP Envy X2 is just plain awesome

Our Verdict

In the end, though, we see so much potential in the Envy x2 we're willing to overlook some of its awkwardness. It's the type of device that is sure to improve over time, and it's showing the way to the undeniable future of ultralight laptops.

Product features

  • Screen Resolution : 1366 x 768
  • Processor Core : Dual-core (2 Core)
  • Rear Camera Resolution : 8 Megapixel

View full specification

For

  • Excellent hybrid design
  • Exceptionally long battery life
  • Light and runs very cool
  • Runs all Windows applications

Against

  • Tablet a bit oversizeD
  • Paltry mass storage
  • Limited tablet-optimized apps
  • Poor 3D graphics performance

The line between tablets and laptops is getting very blurry very fast. After all, except for high-end portable workstations and gaming rigs, a typical laptop PC is little more than a tablet with a keyboard. HP merges the two types beautifully with its Envy x2, creating a hybrid Windows 8 tablet/laptop that works equally well in both guises.

There are two ways to conceptualize the Envy x2. One way is to think of it as a notebook where the screen comes off and can be used as a tablet. It's better, though, to think of it as a tablet with an optional keyboard that also functions as a docking station. This docking station offers sundry connectors and a second battery.

If you're used to the traditional paradigm of a laptop PC, the keyboard base takes some getting used to. Of course, in a normal laptop, the guts are all located in the base of the computer and the screen is just that - nothing more than a display. The Envy x2 turns this paradigm on its head. The screen includes the guts of the computer, including the CPU, memory, and storage. The keyboard includes nothing essential to running the computer, though it does include a second battery.


HP ENVY x2

So, it's best to think of the keyboard base as more like a docking station than anything else. There are no moving parts of any kind inside the keyboard - no DVD drive and no mechanical hard drive. Its main function, beyond providing a keyboard and touchpad, is to offer connectors for peripherals and for the power supply. The second battery provides the only real internal functionality.

Keyboard

We were very impressed with how easy it is to connect and disconnect the tablet from the keyboard. The keyboard base has three connectors on it: two magnetic posts which guide the tablet down onto the main proprietary connector which delivers the power and data. It's easy to securely make this connection just by feel, and once connected, it's a very solid fit.

There's only a few seconds delay between connecting the keyboard and being able to use it. The transition is seamless since all the processing and memory are housed in the tablet. It's much like connecting a USB mouse to a laptop. Disconnecting it is just as easy. You simply move the slider at the top of the keyboard to release the latch and the tablet comes free.

The docking base features a full-sized "island style" (read: chiclet) keyboard which we found responsive and pleasant to use. The trackpad is wide and responsive and includes a button which lets you turn it off or on.

On the left side of the keyboard you'll find a full-sized HDMI connector for connecting to an external monitor, projector or TV, one USB 2.0 port, and a combo headphone/microphone jack. You can plug a regular pair of headphones into this jack or you can use a headset which supports this type of mini-jack to connect both a microphone and headphone. However, if you just want to plug a regular microphone into this jack, or if want to use a separate headphone and microphone, you'll need to use a splitter.

On the right of the keyboard base, there is a second USB 2.0 port and the power connector. HP uses a proprietary flat power connector which has a small light which lets you know when the system is finished charging. You'll also find a slot for an SD card, so you can upload photos from your camera. HP's covered the basics with these connectors, but all things being equal, we would have preferred one or two more USB ports and separate connectors for a microphone and headphones.

An Ethernet connector is the main thing lacking from the keyboard base. This isn't surprising, since the base isn't really thick enough for the industrial designers to squeeze in an RJ-45 jack. However, since the system runs Windows 8, it would be no problem to purchase an inexpensive USB Ethernet adaptor. That, of course, is the advantage of a Windows-based hybrid computer like this: standard PC peripherals and adapters work seamlessly. However, the tablet has no USB ports; if you want to use USB peripherals, you the tablet needs to be docked into the keyboard base.

Tablet functions

Using the Envy x2 as a tablet, the first thing you'll notice is its size. It's really big. It might even be a little too big. Not only is it about half an inch wider than an iPad, it's over two inches longer. The display is 11.6 inches measured diagonally, compared to only 9.7 inches for the iPad. That's a big difference, and for some uses, it's a definite bonus. For others, we think it might get annoying. For instance, in reading a book, we found it a bit unwieldy when trying to hold it with one hand.

The screen resolution is 1366 x 768 with a 16:9 aspect ratio. That's pretty much ideal for watching videos, and the pixel density is comparable to the iPad 2. In this age of Retina displays, though, you might find it a bit grainy for reading books or doing other close-up work. That's not likely to be a problem when using it in laptop mode. Overall the LED-backlit IPS Display screen is bright and clear, and looks excellent from a wide viewing angle. However, like most tablets, we found it very reflective in the sunlight; it isn't ideal for beach time work.

HP ENVY x2

Besides the gargantuan proportions, it's a pretty standard tablet design. There is a large Windows Start button at the bottom that lights up and vibrates the whole device when pressed. This button seems to be disabled when docked to the keyboard.

On the back there is an on/off button and volume buttons which are completely flush against the brushed aluminum exterior. They are a bit hard to find at first, and since the buttons feel pretty similar except for their size, we think it would be pretty easy to accidentally turn it off when you are trying to change the volume and vice versa.

The power supply connects to the Envy x2 through a proprietary connector that looks similar to the original flat iPod connector. It's possible to plug the power cable directly into tablet or to recharge it via the keyboard. There's no technical reason why HP couldn't produce an accessory allowing you to output an HDMI signal directly from the tablet, without needing the keyboard base, but the company hasn't yet released such an accessory.

Tech Specs

Product TypeNet-tablet PC
Green CompliantYes
Processor ManufacturerIntel
Graphics Controller ManufacturerIntel
Graphics Controller ModelHD Graphics
BluetoothYes
Wireless LANYes
Optical Drive TypeNo
Graphics Memory AccessibilityShared
Solid State Drive Capacity64 GB
HDMIYes
Backlight TechnologyLED
Product FamilyENVY x2 11-g000
Operating System PlatformWindows
Processor ModelZ2760
ColourNatural Silver
Operating SystemWindows 8
Brand NameHP
Form FactorHybrid
Processor Speed1.80 GHz
Processor TypeAtom
Screen Size29.5 cm (11.6")
Number of Cells2-cell
Screen Resolution1366 x 768
Standard Memory2 GB
Weight (Approximate)1.41 kg
Cache1 MB
Processor CoreDual-core (2 Core)
Green Compliance Certificate/AuthorityENERGY STAR, EPEAT Silver
Memory Card ReaderYes
TouchscreenYes
Graphics Memory CapacityUp to 782 MB
Display Screen TypeActive Matrix TFT Colour LCD
Wireless LAN StandardIEEE 802.11a/b/g/n
Rear Camera Resolution8 Megapixel
Height19 mm
Width303 mm
Depth206 mm
Screen ModeHD
Memory TechnologyLPDDR2
Product Series11-g000
ManufacturerHewlett-Packard
Product Model11-g000ea
Product NameEnvy x2 11-g000ea
Product LineENVY x2
Aspect Ratio16:9
Manufacturer Part NumberC0U47EA#ABU
Manufacturer Website Addresshttp://www.hp.com/uk
Marketing Information

Twice the fun

With Beats Audio™ and dual speakers, the HP ENVY x2 is designed for the best sounding, richest audio available on a PC. Get an HD webcam in front for face-to-face conversations.Plus an 8.0 MP camera in back for shooting crystal clear photos and video. You'll come off looking good with 1080p-any way you look at it.
Package Contents
  • Envy x2 11-g000ea
  • 2 x Lithium Polymer Batteries
  • AC Adapter
Limited Warranty1 Year