Microsoft created its Windows 8 OS with touchscreen in mind, with a number of traditional PC users most likely groaning at the thought of reaching out to their monitor in order to open up a program. Mobile computers like laptops, ultrabooks and tablets seem to be making the best use of the new OS since their screen is within an easily reachable distance.
HP introduced its Envy X2 last August which is an 11.6” touch-screen slate PC that easily brings the portability of a tablet with the productivity of a light laptop when it’s connected to its keyboard dock. When we originally put our hands all over it, we walked away extremely impressed, but we knew we had to get this thing into our review lab to put it through all of our tests to see just how good it is.
Using a laptop and a tablet offer different experiences for me. On one hand, I find laptops to be better used when creating content is important like writing news stories, editing and publishing video or anything else that would require the power a laptop can offer. On the other hand, tablets are better for taking in content such as reading stories, social media updates or watching videos.
Having a product that can be considered to be both should be something most people would want to have as you would expect to gain the best of both worlds. That’s what I’m hoping for and will do my best to review the Envy X2 as an entire package, rather than focusing squarely on it being a tablet or a laptop.
11.6” HD LED-Backlit IPS Display 1366 x 768 (400 nit brightness)
Dual-core Intel Atom (Z2760 1.80GHz) + Intel Graphics
2GB 533MHz LPDDR2 SDRAM
Windows 8 (32-bit)
WLAN Multi-band Wi-Fi a/b/g/n + Bluetooth + NFC
HDMI, Audio Out / Microphone
2x USB 2.0, SD Card Slot
302.2mm x 206.2mm x 16.7 ~ 19.3mm with laptop dock (11.93” x 8.12” x 0.66 ~ 0.76” with laptop dock)
1.41kg (3.11lbs) when connected with keyboard dock; 0.6kg (1.5lbs) for the tablet alone
25Wh in the Envy X2, 21Wh in the keyboard dock = 46Wh when combined
Official specifications on HP.com
When you first look at the HP Envy X2, you’ll first notice it’s completely covered in a premium-looking brushed-aluminum finish. Portions of the backside of the HP Envy X2 are highlighted with a silver plastic material to call your eye’s attention to its volume control, power button and the area where the rear-facing camera are located. On the center of the HP Envy X2’s back is the HP logo, which is a mix of brushed-aluminum and a reflective metal.
The front of the HP Envy X2 has a 1 ½-inch thick black bezel surrounding its LED. In the middle of the bottom part of the screen is a Windows 8 logo, which when the Envy X2 is in being used as a tablet, initiates the “Windows” command when pressed. The top portion of the screen is where the front-facing HD camera is located.
The HP Envy X2’s included keyboard dock is equipped with a set of magnets to help guide the tablet into it smoothly, and a lock fully secures the Envy X2 into it. The lock is extremely secure as we shook the Envy X2 by its screen to hopefully get it to release, but no matter how hard we tried, the lock never let the tablet portion loose.
Keyboard: Considering the majority of my day is spent writing, the keyboard portion of any device is extremely important to me as I’ll be spending a lot of time with it on a regular basis (you may have different priorities). The palm rests continue the look of aluminum found throughout the HP Envy X2 and offers a cool touch when you first lay your wrists on them. The aluminum also allows for your wrists to slip and slide wherever they need to go without feeling fatigued during long-term typing.
The trackpad was one of my least favorite portions of the HP Envy X2 as it has a slight texture to it, which is actually a circular texture. If you’ve ever seen a 3D poster or trading card, that’s pretty much the same material the trackpad feels like when it’s touched. I’ve always been a fan of smooth trackpads, so when I come across a trackpad that has any kind of material, I usually freak out. Again, this is very personal, and you may not mind as much, but I thought that I would point this out.
The right-mouse click is performed on the trackpad by clicking below a line that cuts through around the lower ⅛ portion of the trackpad. If you’re used to trackpads that have designated mouse clicks located to the left or right-lower portion of the trackpad, then being able to make your right mouse clicks anywhere on the lower-portion of the trackpad may feel weird to you. Left-clicks, on the other hand, are performed with a simple tap of the trackpad or a full click.
The keys also have a slight texture to them that feels extremely dry when you touch them. We’re not entirely sure what material they’re made out of, but we found them to slow down how well our fingers can roll off each key to get to the next one. When pressed, the keys give off a mixed feeling of being clicky and squishy. If you’re the kind of person to make a lot of noise typing on a regular keyboard, that sound may be cut down if you use the HP Envy X2’s keyboard, although you’ll get a nice feedback from each press.
The LED display on the HP Envy X2 is 11.6” and provides a resolution of 1366 x 768, which is about the typical resolution for device this size. It’s capable of delivering a 400 nit brightness, which means you’ll most likely be comfortable in a dim-lit room at around 30% – 40% of its full brightness. At its most powerful brightness setting, the HP Envy X2 is capable of performing well on a sunny day, as long as you’re not sitting in direct sunlight.
The HP Envy X2’s view angle was also very good as I didn’t notice any degradation of image quality no matter what angle I was viewing the device from. The image got slightly dimmer when viewing it from extremely extended angles, but if you’re looking at the Envy X2 at that angle, we’re pretty sure you’re probably peaking in on somebody else using it.
The HP Envy X2 features two cameras: a rear-facing 8MP camera and a front-facing HD camera. As you can see from the images below, we compared the Envy X2 with a 3rd-generation iPad, considering both of them offer similar camera experiences.
The front-facing camera on the HP Envy X2 dulls down the colors in its image, although it does provide a wider image than the iPad since it’s a widescreen device. The image produced, though, is less noisy than the 3rd-generation iPad’s front-facing camera.
The 8MP rear-facing camera on the Envy X2 is also guilty of dulling down the colors of its images when compared to the iPad’s rear-facing 5MP camera, which happens to share the same optics as the iPhone 4S.
There are certainly both pros and cons for the front-facing camera in low light on the HP Envy X2. Sure – the colors are dull like they are in our daylight shots, but the images are a bit less noisy than they are with the 3rd-generation iPad under the same conditions.
The rear-facing camera on the HP Envy X2 did pretty well in our low-light tests as the camera is able to take a decent image, although finer details are certainly lost. The image quality is a bit more noisy than the 3rd-generation iPad’s image quality, although the image the HP Envy X2 takes is much larger when using its 8MP setting.
Performance (relatively low)
The HP Envy X2 is more tablet than it is an actual laptop, which means you shouldn’t expect it to be at all powerful. It does contain a dual-core processor, but it’s an Intel Atom processor, which isn’t exactly known for its ability to knock anyone’s socks off. On the other hand, the Intel Atom processor’s main selling point is its lower power consumption when compared to the standard i3 / i5 Intel processor.
The PCMark 7 benchmark is used in order to simulate real-world tasks such as opening applications, booting up your computer and doing some mild graphical tasks.
In our benchmark test using PCMark 7, the HP Envy X2 performed as low as we expected it to with a score of 1435. This has everything to do with its Intel Atom CPU as well as its 2GB of RAM. A similar device to the HP Envy X2 is the Microsoft Surface Pro, which you can see from our tests is nearly 3x more powerful.
We started using 3DMark11 recently in our performance portion of our reviews to test how devices we test would do as gaming machines if the user would decides to run games on their computers that require some serious processing power. The HP Envy X2 has its Intel Atom processor handling its graphics, which resulted in our tests not even being able to run (that graphics chip does not support the new DirectX features). We did notice our PCMark 7’s graphics portion of its tests resulted in a performance of 1fps, which means you shouldn’t even consider running a good majority of games on the Envy X2.
This takes us to our last benchmark, Geekbench. We use Geekbench due to its ability to gauge the CPU’s performance as it can do this by throwing mathematical computations at it that would probably give 100% of human beings a very bad headache if they attempted to solve any of its equations. We always like to preface this test as being a benchmark purely of the PCs CPU and in no way reflects on its ability to run real-world applications.
Once again, the HP Envy X2 shows what it’s made out of, or isn’t in this case as it scored a rather low 1400 in Geekbench’s tests. This goes to show just how powerful the Intel Atom processor is inside of the HP Envy X2, even going as far as being below the power of the fourth-generation iPad and Galaxy Note 10.1.
Value for the weight, price
We know when purchasing any PC, people tend to look at its internal specs and purchase a computer based on what they currently need. One factor many overlook is its weight as more powerful portable computers will most likely be heavier than PCs that aren’t as powerful. That’s why we also like to look at a PCs performance relative to its weight so we can see if all of that power is worth you breaking your back over or if a PC’s weight isn’t worth its sub-par performance.
Since the HP Envy X2 is a hybrid of a laptop and a tablet, we decided to run two different equations for its value based on its weight. When it’s connected to it’s keyboard dock, the Envy X2 weighs in at 3.11lbs, which when you factor in its relatively-low performance, drops its value substantially.
As a tablet, the HP Envy X2 can offer the performance per lbs as dedicated laptops like the Samsung Series 9 and MacBook Pro /w Retina (2012), although the Microsoft Surface Pro seems to be the tablet / laptop hybrid king when factoring its value based on its weight.
One of the main selling factors for the HP Envy X2 is its excellent battery life, which is being promoted as lasting up to 10.75 hours for the tablet alone, and 19.25 hours when the Envy X2 is connected to its keyboard dock. Our real-world test of leaving the Envy X2 on with nothing running on in the background while connected to Wi-Fi resulted in about 9 hours of battery life for the tablet itself, while if you have it connected to its keyboard dock, you can expect a maximum of 17 hours of battery life, which is huge for a system that can run a “real” Windows OS.
Since we know you’re going to want to actually use the HP Envy X2, we also conducted some tests while watching some videos. Running a 1080p video locally with 50% brightness and the sound off will result in a 15% drop in battery after one hour of play, which translates to 6.6 hours of playback time. Streaming a 1080p video under the same conditions resulted in an 18% drop in battery, which translates to 5 hours of playback time.
Battery Charge Speed
We all have busy lives and often need instant gratification no matter what we’re doing. That’s why we feel it’s important to rate the charge speed of our devices going from completely and utterly dead to around 93%. Why not 100%? Simple. It’s because the majority of batteries have difficulty when it comes to charging from 90% to 100% (it takes a very long time for the final few %).
The HP Envy X2 takes roughly 2 hours and 20 minutes to charge from 0% to 93%. That is only for the tablet portion of the device. If you want to recharge both the Envy X2 and its keyboard dock, expect to have it sucking up electrical juice for 3 hours and 30 minutes with the majority of the juice going directly to the Envy X2.
Conclusion (premium feel, but make sure it is fast enough for you)
I personally use a keyboard connected to my iPad at all times as I enjoy the tablet, but also enjoy the feel of a real keyboard at the same time. The HP Envy X2 is geared to someone like me who likes to go back and forth between a laptop setting to a tablet setting at any time. I found if you think of the HP Envy X2 as the best of both worlds, that it’s done very well and certainly stands out in my opinion due to its great battery life and display.
The HP Envy X2 also gives a premium feeling to it with its brushed-aluminum exterior and when it’s paired with its keyboard dock, no one would think twice if that was a tablet docked into a keyboard. They would just think it’s a laptop, which means the look HP was probably going for the HP Envy X2 was a success.
If you find its keyboard and trackpad are comfortable by possibly having a feel down at the local Best Buy or any other major retailer showcasing the HP Envy X2, and its low performance is something you can live with, then we certainly recommend you give the HP Envy X2 a try if you’ve been wanting a true Windows 8 tablet that offers the familiarity of a laptop.