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Lab Notes Blog

Itís a Tablet. Itís a Laptop. No, itís the HP Envy X2

April 8, 2013

Tags: Hewlett Packard, HP, Envy, Tablet, Laptop, Computer Outlook

In March, we attended a graphics workshop with Christiane Lemieux of Dwell Studio, sponsored by Hewlett Packard, that we wrote up in our Team Grotta blog. The event was creatively interesting and inspiring. When it was over, HP gave us the Envy X2s that we were using during the workshop to take home with us. For the past couple of weeks, weíve been putting them through various lab and real world tests. Here are some of our PRO/CON notes on our findings.

The HP Envy X2 is a dramatically stylish, handsome aluminum-clad clamshell of a hybrid, weighing only 3.11 pounds and only about ĺĒ thick when closed. With the fully independent 11.6Ē tablet latched onto the detachable keyboard, it works and feels like a full functioning laptop. It uses a full-blown version of Windows 8.

  • It can run any Windows 8-compliant software.

  • The tabletís touchscreen is comfortably responsive, neither over- nor under-sensitive.

  • The tablet is surprisingly light and thin, plus the aluminum backing helps protect it.

  • The detachable keyboard includes USB 2.0 and HDMI ports.

  • The tabletís battery lasts about 7 hours. When you attach the keyboard, its additional battery extends the deviceís life to 12.5 hours.

  • Although the keyboard is a chicklet type, it is full size, and easy and comfortable to use.

  • The tablet portion accommodates micro-SD cards, for additional storage.

  • The keyboard portion accommodates regular SD cards, for additional storage.

  • The LED-backlit IPS Display (1366 x 768) is bright and very legible, and line text is more like a laptop than a netbook.

  • Itís great for watching movies in bed, because of its clamshell design that makes the screen very accessible.

  • It runs clunky, cumbersome Windows 8, not the more familiar and easier to use Windows 7.

  • The Atom CPU is very underpowered, making the machine painfully slow.

  • With only a 64GB SSD (a more expensive version has 128GB), it doesnít offer enough storage for many applications and uses.

  • Although photos look good, itís too underpowered and limited to run full-blown imaging programs like Photoshop or Lightroom.

  • Apparently, the maximum density for micro SD and SD cards is 32GB each. (HP provides no information on compatibility. Weíve sent an inquiry to them about this and will report on their response.)

  • The touchpad is overly sensitive, and it frequently flips to another screen or program when you accidentally brush the touchpad while typing.

  • Like most tablets, the screen is very reflective. That means it can be difficult to read in bright light or in busy environments where reflections of lights and objects can obscure what is on the screen.

  • The biggest pro is that the Envy X2 is so convenient and lightweight that Daniel has taken to carrying it everywhere. Itís become a major productivity tool for him, especially after installing MS Office 365 on it, so he can work on a book and various other projects at odd times and places. Heíll be writing up his findings on Office 365 in a future Lab Notes Blog.

    NOTE: We discussed our findings and impressions of the HP Envy X2 in a Computer Outlook Contributors Corner podcast.


    1. April 9, 2013 11:10 AM EDT
      I have an Acer netbook with a 1.6ghz Atom CPU and 1.5GB of RAM running WinXP Home. Acer's intent was a lightweight machine intended for portability and "on-the-go" usage. It wasn't meant to be a full scale workstation. There are things I might do on my desktop where I would expect a disappointing experience on the Acer, because the Acer wasn't designed to do that. I *can* do them, but things will be much slower. I know that going in, and put limits on what I expect from the Acer.

      64GB of SSD on the basic HP Envy has similar design assumptions. There's a limit to how much they expect you to install/store on the box. They probably think 64GB is adequate for the use cases of the average buyer, and I think they're right.

      And given the above, the fact that Photoshop/Lightroom won't run well is not a surprise. The likely response to complaints will be "Why are you *trying* to? It's an on-the-go solution good for letting you *view* pictures. It's not an imaging workstation."

      The Cons you are running into all have roots in attempting to use the device for things it isn't really meant to do. They are cons for you. They may not be for most users.

      - DMcCunney
    2. April 9, 2013 4:02 PM EDT
      You are correct that Photoshop isn't going to work on any system with these kind of specs, nor are most people expecting it to. However, given that I am known for my photography and imaging, and that our tests and reports are followed by many other graphics users, we felt that it was something important to mention. It's simply addressing some of the issues of interest to a good percentage of our readers.
      - Sally Wiener Grotta
    3. August 3, 2013 10:08 AM EDT
      Do you happen to know is it compatible with HP Slim Travel Power Adapter?
    4. September 1, 2013 9:12 AM EDT
      for latest & update news about how to charge a tablet battery please click on the anchor text.......
      - alex