HP Envy x2 review
A stylish Windows 8 hybrid device with great battery life – but the price is too high
Review Date: 26 Feb 2013
Reviewed By: Darien Graham-Smith
Price when reviewed: £667 (£800 inc VAT)
Features & Design
Value for Money
The Intel Atom brand tends to find itself attached to bargain-basement hardware. But HP’s Atom-based Envy x2 is an upmarket convertible. It runs full Windows 8, sports an 11.6in detachable touchscreen, and supports both desktop and tablet-style apps.
In fact, at first glance the Envy x2 looks like a premium Ultrabook. The robust aluminium chassis measures a slender 19mm thick, and inside a solid, spacious MacBook-style keyboard bespeaks the Envy x2’s suitability for serious work. The assembly feels a little heavy in the hand, but that’s a trick of its compact frame: in reality, the keyboard and screen together weigh an eminently portable 1.41kg. In detached mode, the tablet part on its own comes in at only 710g – little more than the iPad’s 652g, despite the distinctly larger display area.
It seems quite nippy in use, despite its low-power architecture. Windows 8 is far more responsive than its predecessors on lightweight hardware, and the Atom Z2760 (codenamed Cloverview) is a step up from the netbook CPUs of yore. Full HD videos on YouTube and hi-definition iPlayer shows play without a hitch, and look great on the Envy x2’s 1,366 x 768 IPS panel, with its vibrant 416 cd/m2 brightness and solid 849:1 contrast ratio. The compact speakers set into the bottom of the tablet/display aren’t exactly loud, but they’re clear and balanced enough for music and movies.
To be clear, this still isn’t a system we’d recommend for 3D gaming – or for demanding desktop applications for that matter. An overall benchmark score of 0.21 confirms that the modern Atom remains nowhere near as powerful as even a budget Core i3. But for light media duties, everyday browsing and word processing it’s fine.
The upside of the Atom is great battery life. In standalone tablet mode, the Envy x2 achieved 10hrs 19mins hours of full-screen video playback. That compares pretty favourably to the nine hours achieved by the ARM-based Surface RT and the 9hrs 45mins of the fourth-generation iPad 4 – not bad for a full Windows 8 system. In its laptop-style configuration, the Envy x2 does even better, thanks to a second battery tucked away in the keyboard unit: in our standard battery test, the docked system achieved a terrific 20hrs 28mins of light use.
Yes, it is expensive, but then you are paying for all that aluminium, as opposed to the cheap plastics on the cheap tablets, which you constantly complain about.
You have to decide what is more important, price or quality.
That said, I bought the Samsung ATIV PC500, which is pretty much the same thing in a plastic case, but with the S-Pen (Wacom digitizer).
After reading the reviews, I was a little nervous about the performance, but I needed something that would work all day away from the plug, something which a "full" Core i5 tablet can't currently do, whilst still have desktop software available, something that an Android or iPad can't do.
The Atom system is a very good compromise, as long as you aren't expecting to play 3D games or do video or image editing on it.
For taking notes in meetings, reading, doing MS Office work etc. it is ideal for on the move. Connected to a 24" monitor back at base, it makes a decent enough desktop replacement - especially as we use Terminal Server for heavy lifting applications anyway and most users only get an Igel terminal.
By big_D on 26 Feb 2013
£800 for a netbook?
For an extra £50 I could get a MacBook Air with an i5.
By tirons1 on 26 Feb 2013
Then you're stuck with a Macbook Air?! I'd rather get the MS Surface.
Any word on the Atmel pen option?
By rhythm on 26 Feb 2013
So would I.
This only applies if I had a use for such a device, which I don't. In reality my Dell Latitude offers a bigger higher resolution screen, is much faster and still lasts all day.
By tirons1 on 26 Feb 2013
to a certain extent, yes.
The Air has the battery life, the Surface the flexibility, the HP has both, although less power.
I'd buy a cheaper tablet... What am I saying, I did. I use a Samsung ATIV as a Desktop replacement. It is a good tablet, a very good netbook, and connected to the dock, with Monitor, Keyboard and mouse, it makes a good enough Desktop replacement for 955 of what I need.
The Atom is enough for normal work, but it isn't man enough for video and photo editing.
By big_D on 27 Feb 2013
I posted before I had my first coffee, I realised after posting, that that is almost a repeat of my first post.
By big_D on 27 Feb 2013
Yes and no.
It's far more than a netbook.
The processor may be netbook class but that's where any similarity ends.
People are willing to pay over £600 for a tablet. This is faster than an tablet with better battery life and full fat Windows.
Has the advantages of a proper keyboard and the flexibility of a proper tablet.
It's definitely over priced however.
As big_D pointed out the Samsung ATIV is a cheaper alternative and the ASUS VivoTab (Atom version) is also cheaper and comes with a Wacom digitizer like the Samsung.
By Grunthos on 27 Feb 2013
The cure to tablet fatigue?
I saw this as the possible solution to my quandary. I'm currently getting it set up to figure it out.
My i5 laptop is too big and weighty; when you get it out on a table at a coffee meeting, clients brace themselves for death by Powerpoint. If you use it in anger, the battery's dead in 3hrs.
Meanwhile, my iPad is very handy, but I find myself out on the road reading RSS stories or mindlessly filing emails, because I need to wait to get back to my 'proper' laptop to work seriously. Keynote might render my slides correctly, and might not - if I can find and download the correct one from Sugarsync from the vast library I have on my PC only, before the client gets bored.
Is the X2 the answer?
I'm still working that out. But it is beautiful, different, and striking to the customers I meet. I do use the touchscreen a moderate amount; the tablet mode a little, so far.
I'm guarded about Win8 tablet mode. It feels clunky and wrong, whereas iOS just flows. But if you can accept a Win8 tablet, then I can't see why the X2 wouldn't be the perfect device.
Once I have all my favourite tools set up, and I have my Windows apps (PersonalBrain, Treepad, OneNote) which are unavailable or poor on iPad, then I'll see how I go.
But in productivity; why not? Read news or email in Tablet mode on the bus, then plug in the keyboard and do a serious email reply blitz and prep your preso in the cafe before your meeting when you arrive.
The Atom rarely causes me grief - it does pause for 2-3 seconds sometimes, which is just it catching up. It doesn't worry me though. I do miss a USB port on the tablet part too.
As for the price? Well... it seems massively high, but then so is what we pay for an iPad. HP are pricing against the *value* to you. I can charge it overnight, then sling it in a bag and have everything I need - nothing to forget, not having to choose my iPad or Laptop (or often, both).
I'll impress my client when I get there, and if I connect to internet it'll sync my cloud drives and email. It's a socially-acceptable business Swiss army knife. And it feels quality
A last point; some products just show that little bit extra thought - they overdeliver. Case in point for the X2 - not only can I use the tablet with a customer, but while the keyboard is sat in my bag, it'll charge my iPhone via USB. A small touch, but to me, so useful!
By damoske on 28 Feb 2013
Do you work for HP by any chance?
By tirons1 on 28 Feb 2013
Well, co-incidentally, yes, but not in marketing or even laptops or PCs. My opinion is mine alone.
Of all the convertibles out there, I actually liked the Lenovo Yoga most of all - more powerful, more flexible - but dislike the weight and lower battery life. I have the X2 because I can get a slight discount, but I genuinely like the concept. But genuinely haven't decided if it actually works, yet.
By damoske on 1 Mar 2013
Too slow and far too expensive
Processor Intel Atom Z2760
RAM capacity 2.00GB DDR2
Windows 8 32-bit
The processor is slow to useless, the RAM is 1/2 or 1/3rd what you need and the old, slow power hungry type. On W8x86, why does it even exist?
It's a can of air.
Who is going to sit with a laptop watching 10h of video? That's what a TV is for, and in small doses.
By skgiven on 7 Mar 2013
The processor is fast enough for the intended purpose. W8x86 exists, because the Atom doesn't support 64-bits.
As to watching video for 10 hours, I've probably watched about 20 minutes of video on my Atom tablet. The rest of the time I have been working on it. It is powerful enough for editing MS Office documents, heck, I have it connected to a 24" monitor in the office, working in dual-screen mode (extended desktop).
It won't do video editing or image editing, but it is fine for "normal" office work and taking notes in meetings, admin tasks, email, surfing etc.
By big_D on 11 Mar 2013
Expensive but very useable
Like the comment above, I was looking for something that sat between a tablet and laptop. I was a bit nervous of Windows 8 interface - I sue android on the Samsung galaxy II and my wife has the IPad which both had good OS's. I took the plunge though and I have been really pleased. Video playback is brilliant - I have office 2013 installed full suite. battery life is superb, light weight - whole thing is robust - been dropped twice...tablet touch screen is responsive. I also used this outside for a 4 hour astromony CCD viewing session and it ran the MEADE autostar SW with no glitches and took image frames with no bother at all. Video play back is superb and HD on lovefilm works great (so long as my broadband is doing its job).
Was it worth £800...at the time I handed over my credit card I thought I must be made but to be honest..I don't think about it as it works so well. Plus, as already mentioned it sits on my desk happily charging my phone - awesome battery bank. 4 and a bit out of 5 I would say.
By tabletman on 12 Apr 2013
avoid like the plague!!!
Whatever you do, save yourself an enormous amount of hassle and stay well clear of this machine, we've had 3 in total now, all defective, had to be returned under warranty, took ages to replace, seriously, the other one you were considering...get that one, rumour has it that they all have a defective screen issue and overheating problem, so you don't want the one that dies in the 13th month of owning remember!!!
By conzi on 14 May 2013
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