HP Envy x2 looks great and lasts a long time, but speed is just adequate

At a Glance
  • HP ENVY x2

    PCWorld Rating

Will the HP Envy x2 evoke jealous thoughts in the coffee shop? Given its sleek, brushed-silver looks and thin clamshell design, probably. Will it stir the deeper emotions that other, faster convertible Windows 8 tablet/laptops do? Sorry HP, no. Still, this thoughtfully designed portable delivers enough battery life and performance to more than adequately fill the roles of both tablet and small laptop.

Light, usable design

The Envy x2 sports a 1366 by 768 (16:9), 11.6-inch display that shows off video well and delivers more than enough usable brightness. The tablet portion weighs a comfortable (given its wide nature) 1.54 pounds, with the 1.56-pound keyboard/port dock bringing that up to 3.1 pounds. All told, toting the package is no great feat. The tablet portion locks into the keyboard dock, and is released via a slide switch.

Most of the EnvyxX2's ports reside on the dock, including a headset jack, HDMI video output, and two USB 2.0 ports. The lack of USB 3.0 or any other high-speed interface for backing up is a minor quibble given the light-use nature of the product. There's also a SDHC car reader, and a large power connector jack. Connectivity (all on the tablet) includes 802.11 a/b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.0, as well as Near-Field Communication, though there are few applications for the latter at the moment.

The tablet portion sports the usual features: a 1080 display-side Webcam, an 8-megapixel back camera, plus an ambient light sensor. There are only two ports--the power jack and the headset jack. With no USB or card reader, you'll need to load or offload data docked or via Wi-Fi. The tablet also has a power button and rocker-volume switch which are placed handily on the back, just a short reach from where your fingers fall when holding the tablet with both hands.

Tablet-level performance is competent

Managing performance expectations with a docked tablet that emulates a small laptop as well as the Envy x2 can be tricky. It simply looks fast. However, the Envy x2's Intel Atom Z2760 1.8GHz CPU, 2GB of low-power DDR2 memory and a 64GB eMMC SSD managed only an 18 on our WorldBench 8 test suite. The number says it's slow, but the Envy x2 feels lively enough that when you're hands-on, few will have complaints. It boots in 13.7 seconds, and there are no long lags.

The Envy x2's integrated Intel GMA GPU is good for rendering movies with bit rates up to about 1.5MBps, but not gaming, at least with any sort of modern game at a decent resolution. Both the aforementioned cameras performed well. The test shots and video were normal for the ilk--fine in good lighting conditions, not so fine when conditions are less than ideal. The Beats audio app provides an emulated surround-sound that gives a nice sense of space for tunes and soundtracks, but there's not even a hint of bass. Again, normal for tablets.

The Envy x2 has a dual-battery design: one 25-watt-hour unit onboard the tablet and another 21-watt-hour unit in the dock. Smart. The arrangement delivers excellent run times: 13 hours, and 22 minutes when docked and 8 hours and 31 minutes untethered as a tablet.

Nice-looking, nice-feeling design

The brushed-metal finish of the Envy x2 feels good in the hand, and the unit's input ergonomics are excellent. The keyboard is short-travel, but has enough feedback so that you can set up a nice typing rhythm. The volume, screen brightness, media transport, etc. functions take precedence on the top row of keys, so you must hold the fn key to invoke F1, F2, etc. That's sensible given the most likely usage scenarios, but you can change it in the BIOS if you wish to swap precedence to the older standard. The touchpad is a rocker type with an exceptionally nice feel. The click function is shorter-travel than many, but silky.

Software-wise, there's not a lot loaded beyond the standard applications. The OS is the 32-bit Windows 8 version (the Z2760 doesn't support 64-bit, but at least this is the full version, not RT), which, considering that you can't upgrade the memory past 2GB, is of no concern.

Pricing is competitive

The only upgrade available for the Envy x2 is a 128GB SSD for $100. The $700 price is a reasonable deal, and as of this writing it was available for even less than that from non-HP online stores, making it a very nice bargain.

The Envy x2 carries a one-year warranty, though you can up it to the three-year variety including for $229. That includes pickup and return. We saw no other option so you might get a better deal in a drop-off, three-year plan from a box store.

Nice as a light-use laptop

The Envy x2 is a looker, and a more than workable Windows 8 tablet. It's also eminently viable as a light-use laptop PC. All in all, a nice job, and yes, I was just a tad envious when I had to turn it back in.

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At a Glance
  • PCWorld Rating

    Pros

    • Attractive, unified brushed metal design and dock
    • Excellent battery life, with or without dock
    • Nice keyboard and touchpad

    Cons

    • Mediocre performance
    • USB ports on dock only, and only USB 2.0 at that
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