The HP Envy X2 is a hybrid laptop tablet running Windows 8 that should satisfy most consumers and even some business users, depending on how it is used.
First, itís a lightweight laptop that at 1.4Kg (while screen is docked to the keyboard) gives users a very long battery life. Thatís because of its dual battery design (one in the tablet itself and another in the keyboard dock). When docked the HP Envy X2 can go for almost ten hours without recharging.
The keyboard dock provides the system with multiple ports (including two USB 2.0, HDMI and SD card slot) for expansion and wireless support for WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n, Bluetooth and NFC (Near Field Communication) and two cameras: a front facing 1080p HD camera and a 4 megapixel camera in the back.
When removed from the keyboard dock the remaining battery is still good for around four to five hours of use supporting a 1366x768 tablet (11.6Ē 16:9) with a microSD card reader slot.
The system itself is pretty responsive even if the specs arenít mind blowing. We are talking about a tablet here and battery life is part of the balance. The Intel Atom Z7260 CPU with an Intel Media Graphics Adapter platform delivers enough power for most consumer and business applications, even though the standard 2GB RAM wonít allow many apps running simultaneously.
But thatís where things change: itís a tablet, with a keyboard. The interface moves the user towards running single apps each time instead of the multitasking environments we used to be running on laptops and desktops. And when you consider that, apps start fast, switching between those works well and the experience is pretty good.
Remember, this is a Windows 8 tablet first so the new modern tile UI is at forefront as well as the connected experiences.
For example with 64GB SSD itís a fast machine to boot (even though most of times you would just have it sleeping really) but that may not be enough space to store everything you want. Thatís when using a Microsoft account to login makes more sense than using your local account.
Although a Windows 8 feature not specific to the HP Envy X2, using a Microsoft login account makes things easier. Customisations applied to one Windows 8 laptop or tablet are automatically synchronised to the HP Envy X2. Accounts (Twitter, Facebook, Office 365) created in another tablet automatically appear on the new device when you first login.
And those 64GB SSD are suddenly a bit larger when you consider Skydrive, which stores your documents in the Microsoft online storage service. This means if you use the HP Envy X2 for light travel and leave a work laptop at home or office, all the documents from that laptop can be available on Skydrive and even without downloading the entire content of your cloud space you can read, edit, save and create documents that will be automatically downloaded to your work machine when it is turned on.
Unlike the HP ElitePad 900 the HP Envy X2 does not have mobile broadband built-in but itís WiFi should get you covered, be it connecting to a hotel network, cafť hotspot or to your smartphone for a mobile network sharing.
In terms of entertainment, the screen is very good and quite readable even under sunlight. While not a high end gaming rig, it can certainly be used to play casual games (plenty available in the Microsoft Store) or for playing digital content. Streaming 720p HD videos from my NAS over WiFi did not seem to have any problem and playback was without any hiccup. Having said that the WiFi status reported a 65 Mbps connection while other devices on the same access point could connect up to 130 Mbps.
The textured trackpad is interesting as it is a metal one instead of the usual plastic. That goes with the HP Evny X2 design, which is completely curved brushed aluminium. The trackpad can be disabled with a double tap to the top left corner, avoiding accidental taps while typing documents and emails (or playing games!)
The keyboard is good, similar to the model used by HP in their other small notebook lines. The keys are easy to press, with short travel but good feedback and good space between then. Unlike some other models thereís no backlight on this keyboard dock. The usual HP function keys are present (brightness, video output, media playback controls, volume up/down and mute, wireless switch) and work as expected by pressing the Fn key and one of the function keys.
I donít usually like lots of preloaded OEM software but in this case HP seems to have done well. The only few things I can see here (apart from the standard pre-installed Windows 8 apps) is a link to Snapfish Photos, an Office 365 demo link, PageLift (an app that lets you scan documents using the built-in camera) and the HP Support Assistant.
Another pre-installed software is sMedio 360, a media streaming/client app that allows you to stream content from media servers in your network or push the local media to other devices in your network. Installing the sMedio 360 client on an Android device for example allows you to stream content from your HP Envy X2 to the smartphone by simply touching a NFC-capable smartphone to the tablet, initiating the streaming.
The HP Support Assistant worked pretty well too, advising me there was a few new driver software to install and even a BIOS update. All these were updated pretty quickly, with minimum intervention.
If this is your first time getting an HP device, I recommend you use their tools to create a recovery USB media, then removing the ďRECOVERYĒ partition. This will give you almost 11GB of usable local storage that can boost your total available space. You donít have to do this, but if space is at a premium, thereís always this option. I have had many HP devices over the years and always created recovery media immediately after opening the box.
The system comes with 2GB RAM which seems to plenty enough for the modern UI apps that run on Windows 8, but since the installed operating system runs 32 bits apps only you might want to check if a 64 bit version is available if you need to run more memory intensive tasks.
As I said at the start of this review, a good machine for consumer or business workers who want to travel light and fast.
- Superb battery life
- Brilliant screen in terms of size and touch sensitivity
- Pre-installed software are useful, no bloatware
- Responsive and good performance