Intel Clover Trail Atom tablets can do one thing that the ARM based Windows RT tablets can't – load and run regular x86 applications. How does the HP Envy x2 fair as an all-day computing device?
Past computer operating systems have been brought into the market with personal computers (PCs) firmly in mind. There have been tablet versions of PC operating systems, starting from XP all the way to Windows 7. However, the tablet had never really caught on as the supporting hardware was just too bulky and heavy for most consumers’ liking. In recent years technology has caught up, and with the introduction of Windows 8, a revolutionary new operating system has been introduced with both tablets and PCs in mind.
It was only a matter of time before someone thought about having a lightweight tablet which could also double as an Ultrabook of sorts. Asus was technically the first to have thought of that, but their use of Android as an OS made their hybrid models more of a ‘tablet with a keyboard dock’. HP has now gone one better, with tablet that has both a keyboard dock and a full PC operating system.
Lo and behold, we present to you the Envy x2.
Looking at the picture above, Apple fanboys are almost certainly going to cry foul and label it as a rip-off of the Macbook Air. However, the two couldn’t be more different. For one thing, the keyboard dock has a full HDMI port, two USB ports, and a SD card slot capable of reading up to 64 GB. The tablet section has the power button and the microSIM slot, allowing for wireless connectivity on the go.
The build quality is also significantly better than the MacBook Air. Brushed aluminium makes up both the tablet and dock bodies. This reviewer is usually wary of consumer products made of pure aluminium since producers seem to go for cheaper alloys with lower impact resistance to cut costs. A Google search of ‘dents in aluminium laptops’ is very enlightening. The HP Envy x2 appears to buck the trend of poor aluminium alloys, though. The build quality appears to be very solid, with no noticeable flex in the keyboard dock underside and tablet case upon manual pressure. Some relatively negligible flex was noted in the keyboard and palm rest areas.
The tablet and keyboard dock each weigh roughly 700g, making the full set a very lightweight 1.4 kg, comparable to the Thinkpad X1 Carbon that is making waves among business-minded professionals. Docking and undocking the main tablet is relatively simple, involving sliding a small catch to the left. Don’t be fooled into thinking that the latching mechanism is flimsy, for flipping the entire laptop upside down did not cause the tablet to drop out or even jiggle in its slot (WARNING: VR Zone will not accept any responsibility for viewers who actually do that).
Of note is the fact that when the tablet is docked, opening the screen to its viewing angle lifts the edge off the table surface slightly. This makes for a more ergonomic typing experience.
That said, there are problems that are evident on first use with this tablet/laptop hybrid. For one thing, there is no Ethernet LAN port, and one would have to use a USB-to-Ethernet adaptor for this purpose. This is admittedly quite a standard feature in most Ultrabooks, but it would have been nice if a LAN port could have been crammed into the dock. Also, it is unclear as to what glass the display is clad in, but it appears to be Gorilla Glass. While this allows for an impact-resistant display, it also makes for a very glossy surface that reflects light easily even in dim conditions.