It's a funny world: Asus used to be the budget brand and HP offered everything from very high line equipment like the HP Envy 15 of late 2011-early 2012 to more affordable laptops and PCs. Now Asus offers some of the most desirable, cutting edge Windows 8 convertibles and Ultrabooks, and HP offers up mid-range and budget portables. In this case, the HP Split x2 13t-m000 is the budget alternative to the impressive but very expensive Asus Transformer Book TX300. Let's face it: not everyone has or wishes to spend $1,500 on an ultraportable or tablet hybrid, so the $699 HP Split x2 has broad appeal. Better yet, HP didn't cut corners in places where it counts: you get a full Intel Core CPU, a 128 gig SSD and a decent, though not stellar 13.3" touchscreen. Though priced higher, the Split x2 has more horsepower and higher end features than the extreme budget priced Asus Transformer Book T100 running an the Intel Atom Bay Trail platform with 32 bit Windows. Since we received this model for review, HP has introduced 13t-g100, 13t-m100 and 13t-h200 versions with Intel Haswell 4th generation Core i3 and i5 Y series CPUs. The Y series is a very low power design that clocks in slower than U series CPUs used in Ultrabooks, but it's still a reasonably snappy performer for productivity, web and video playback.
Design and Ergonomics
The Split x2 gets its name from the design: release a reliable and easy to use sliding lock and what looks like a 13.3" Ultrabook turns into a 2 lb. tablet with detachable keyboard dock. The base looks like and is a standard laptop bottom; it's not cheesy or lacking in ports and internals. There's a second battery in the dock that actually behaves in a more normal fashion than Asus' TX300, a bay for an optional secondary HDD, two USB ports, full size HDMI and an SD/MMC card slot. The base is a few ounces heavier than the tablet portion, so it's not tipsy like some transformer-style hybrids with lightweight docks.
From the name and relative success of the $699 HP Envy x2, we can guess that Split x2 was inspired by the Envy. We too loved the Envy x2, other than the steep price: it was light, had a sharp and bright IPS display and an attractive and well made aluminum casing. While the Split x2 13t-m00 shares the overall design, it's bigger at 13.3" vs. 11.6", it's a pound heavier (total weight for both parts), and it loses both the metal casing and the IPS display (the m000 lacks IPS while the g100 and h200 have IPS). Where the Envy was relatively expensive for an Intel Atom Windows 8 tablet, the Split x2 is the least expensive transformer Windows 8 tablet with Intel Core CPUs. That means HP had to make cost cuts to bring this lower priced model to market. We can live with the gray but serviceable plastic exterior, and the shape and industrial design are still pleasing even in plastic. It doesn't scream quality like the Envy x2, but it doesn't look low end either. HP's two piece convertible with a classier metal casing, the HP Spectre 13t x2 starts at $1,100.
Keyboard and Trackpad
The keyboard is low travel but serviceable, just like the Envy x2. The keys aren't backlit (a relative rarity on keyboard docks), and we wish the key masking was a bright white rather than subdued off white, so we could see them easier in dimly lit environments. At 13.3", the keyboard is as roomy as any Ultrabook and the Synaptics trackpad behaved well for single and multi-touch gestures.
The keyboard dock ports (2 USB 3.0, 1 USB 2.0 and HDMI on the 4th gen, 2 USB ports on 3rd gen Intel model) are on the sides and the tablet itself houses the brains of the operation: CPU, SSD, RAM and motherboard. Like many Windows 8 tablets that have companion docks, there's a dearth of ports on the tablet itself: you get a combo headphone-mic jack, a microSD card slot and charging port.
Deals and Shopping:
HP Split x2 Video Review
Performance and Horsepower
The base 13t-m00 model ships with Intel's third generation Ivy Bridge 1.4GHz Core i3-3229Y, and you can order it with the 1.6GHz Core i5-4202Y, which we recommend for Turbo Boost support and Haswell's improved battery life. All models are dual cores that come with Intel integrated graphics (HD 4000 for the 3rd gen model and HD 4200 for 4th gen models). For those with light computing needs comprised of email, web browsing, HD video streaming and some photo editing, the Core i3 is quite sufficient. But if you want to edit HD video, spend significant time editing high resolution photos or do software development, then you want the Core i5.
The convertible is available with 4 or 8 gigs of DDR3 RAM and the standard model has a 128 gig mSATA SSD. HP offers build to order options that include a 500 gig 5400 RPM HDD in the dock plus a 64 or 128 gig SSD in the tablet, much like the Asus TX300. The Core i3 model reviewed here has a single standard RAM slot, but the Core i5 Haswell model's RAM is soldered on board and isn't upgradable.
Our model shipped with Ralink RT3290 802.11b/g/n single band WiFi and Bluetooth 4.0, and you can order it direct from HP with WiFi 802.11ac. The m000 does not have an IPS display but the updated models (13t-g100, 13t-h200) have IPS displays, which we heartily recommend. The standard resolution is 1366 x 768, which is reasonable for a relatively low priced Windows 8 convertible with Intel Core CPUs. HP offers a 1920 x 1080 IPS option if you order direct from their web site. All models have touch screens but they do not have active digitizers and digital pens. You can use a capacitive stylus, just as you would with an iPad or Android tablet, but that's not as precise as an active digitizer.
The HP ships with a compact 45 watt laptop style charger. The tablet and dock have 3 cell batteries and HP claims up to 10 hours of use time for the Haswell models. Our Ivy Bridge 13t-m000 didn't come close to that, and we averaged 7 hours (in laptop mode using both batteries). Since Haswell brings great battery life improvements, we expect to see better runtimes from the Haswell models, but I'd be surprised if they lasted beyond 9 hours with dual batteries.
It's great to see a relatively affordable Windows 8 convertible with Intel Core CPUs, full size keyboards and fast SSD drives. The HP Split x2 brings novel and useful designs to a broader range of customers, and they've made a solid product. Obviously, even the $850 4th gen Core i5 model won't compete with high end Ultrabooks that have full HD displays and faster U series CPUs, but those cost $1,000 to $1,300 for Core i5 models. With the refreshed Split x2 with Haswell, you get a decent IPS display, dual batteries, a full size keyboard and a 2 lb. detachable tablet running full Windows 8 64 bit. Not bad.
Display:13.3", 1366 x 768 LED backlit display (IPS on 4th gen Haswell models). 1920 x 1080 available as on option on HP's website. Intel HD 4000 or HD 4200 integrated graphics. HDMI port on keyboard dock.
Battery: 3 Lithium
Ion rechargeable in tablet and base. Batteries are sealed inside. Note that battery in dock is optional for some SKUs.
Performance:Available with Intel 3rd gen Intel Core i3 Y series CPU (being phased out) and 4th generation Intel Haswell 1.3GHz Core i3-4010Y and 1.6GHz Intel Core i5-4202Y dual core CPUs. 3rd gen has Intel HD 4000 graphics and 4th gen has Intel HD 4200 integrated graphics. Available with 64 or 128 gig SSD drives (in tablet section) and optional 5400 RPM 500 gig HDD in keyboard base. 4 or 8 gigs of DDR3 RAM.
Size:13.38 x 8.5 x 0.44 inches (tablet); 13.38 x 9.05 x 0.92 inches (tablet and base). Weight: 2.36 lb (tablet); 4.89 lb (tablet and base).
Audio:Built-in stereo speakers with Beats audio, mic and 3.5mm standard stereo headphone
Networking:Integrated single band
WiFi 802.11b/g/n and Bluetooth 4.0. WiFi 802.11ac available if you order from HP's website.
Software:Windows 8 64 bit.
Expansion and Ports:2 USB 3.0 ports, 1 USB 2.0 port, HDMI, 3.5mm combo audio and
SD card slot.