Since the release of Windows 8, there have been a slew of hybrids (notebook to tablet convertibles) hitting the market, especially in 2013. While the ElitePad 900, HP’s first Windows 8 tablet on the market, has a separate dock available for purchase, it isn’t quite a default hybrid device. The ENVY x2, however, is. Even the name, the “x2,” conveys the 2-in-1 theme. Having entered the market space relatively compared to its competitors, HP had some catching up to do. How does the device feature as a standalone tablet or as a fully functional laptop?
The ENVY x2 looks very similar to the EliteBook 900 tablet, and the other laptops from the EliteBook business range once connected to the dock. It’s clear to see, then, that this is an HP device. As with the other HP devices, the ENVY x2 has a premium look and feel, and build quality. The brushed metal finish, coupled with the inscribed HP logo on the lid, gives the ENVY x2 a sleek look about it. The 11.6” touchscreen display (tablet portion) is easily recognisable thanks to its smooth glass finish around the screen, as opposed to the purposefully included bezel on the non-touchscreen devices. The display alone weighs in at around 680g, and 1.4KG with the dock.
The tablet portion provides only three ports for use, the docking port, an audio jack, and SIM card slot. Other inclusions are the power button, capacitive Windows button, volume rocker, and the rear and front facing cameras. Overall, there’s nothing obtrusive on the simple, yet effective, display. When connected to the dock/keyboard, there are immediately a host of other ports and features at hand. Apart from the keyboard and touchpad, the dock also includes two USB 2.0 ports, a propriety power port, audio jack and an HDMI out. The dock also includes a stand, which is non-negotiable, and pops out once the device is flipped open.
Connecting and disconnecting the display is a breeze; much simpler than many of the other hybrids I’ve seen. Having two guiding sliders makes it easy to position the display in place to connect to the dock, with a simple sliding button to release. Keyboards and touchpads are often a touchy subject when it comes to laptops and docking stations, especially when working with smaller screened devices. The 11.6” display on the ENVY x2 means that the keys on the keyboard are smaller and relatively close to one another, which takes a bit of getting used to. After a few short minutes, you’ll be typing emails and messages with ease. There is also sufficient room to rest your wrists on either side of the touchpad.
The touchpad provides plenty of gimmicks, mimicking the touchscreen’s swipe and touch gestures. The touchpad is also very responsive, which is where many of the issues lie. You will often find yourself accidentally clicked and moving the cursor, as the both the pad and the ‘buttons’ are overly sensitive. While not very intrusive when typing mails, it becomes a major issue when editing documents or images. It would be much easier including a separate mouse on your purchase for using alongside the dock.
There loads to be had in terms of the device’s performance; from its graphics and processing capabilities, to the camera and battery life. The ENVY x2 packs a 1.8GHz Intel Atom Z2760 CPU under its hood. Although this isn’t Ultrabook territory, there is sufficient power to run pretty much all your basic computing needs, plus some extra. One of the poor aspects of the device is its read/write speeds, clocking in at 34MB/s and 83MB/s for writing and reading, respectively. Still, there are a lot slower benchmarks out there, as the device still manages to cold boot in less than 20 seconds. While the boot times may read as impressive, loading software and apps, don’t have the same haste about them.
The 1,366x768px resolution display provides ample amounts of colour, with crisp imagery and wide viewing angles, albeit without the full HD experience. The 8MP rear-facing camera allows for fairly decent photo snaps, especially in well-lit environments. The only major talking point in terms of negative aspects is that the camera often tends to take some time adjusting the focus, and sometimes takes blurry photos if you’re not precise enough.
Interestingly included with the ENVY x2 is the Beats Audio technology. On first knowledge of this, I was fairly excited to experience what kind of audio it would produce, which quickly turned to disappointment when, in reality, there was nothing to write home about with the, often soft and tinny, sound quality. The dock includes its own battery, which means it provides additional battery life when you attach the display. Under normal conditions when docked, the battery lasted the entire day, and around 13-14 hours of continuous usage, which drops to around 10 hours if used for gaming. Separated from the display you’ll be looking at anywhere from 6 to 10 hours depending on your usage.
There’s a lot more to love about the ENVY x2 over the ElitePad 900, even without the included dock. Hybrids are proving that they’re here to stay for the foreseeable future, which can only be a good thing for the consumer who would then only have to purchase one device instead of two; when done correctly that is. The HP ENVY x2 provides some useful features and performances, making it a lovable device.
Even better is that it is more affordable than the ElitePad 900, at a RRP of R9,999, which includes the dock. While I would have loved to have seen more power packed underneath the hood, it’s difficult to expect that from a device that has everything built into the display. Although there may be a few hybrid competitors on the market with enhanced specs and others with more affordable pricing, the HP ENVY x2 is able to stand up quite well to the majority of those.