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HP Split x2
What's Hot: Relatively affordable, doubles as a laptop and a 2 lb. tablet, available with decent core specs like IPS displays, SSD drives and Intel Haswell Core CPUs.
What's Not: Plastic casing is a little bland looking, single band WiFi on most models.
Reviewed November 11, 2013 by Lisa Gade, Editor
in Chief (twitter: @lisagade)
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.