Transformer style Windows 8 and Windows 8 RT tablets are quickly becoming the norm, and we have Asus to thank for popularizing the form with their Eee Pad Transformer and Transformer Prime Android tablets (isn't it amazing that Asus hasn't sued HP, Lenovo and Samsung for copying their innovative design?). HP is the most recent to market with the Envy X2, and it's the most sophisticated yet. Yes, the aluminum casing, very good keyboard and lovely IPS display come at a price ($849 list, but you can find it for $749 or $799 online), but road warriors looking for a highly portable second machine may find it worth the price of admission.
This is a 1.8GHz dual core Intel Atom Clovertrail machine with 2 gigs of DDR2 RAM and a 64 gig internal flash drive for storage. It runs full Windows 8 32 bit and it can run your Window 7 apps (x86 .exe apps like Adobe Photoshop and MS Outlook), which makes this a versatile tablet.
As a tablet and a notebook, the HP Envy X2 excels in terms of ergonomics. Unlike other transformer style tablets that have puny keyboards that are punishing to type on or that don't latch on securely, when the Envy X2 is docked with the included keyboard dock it's rock solid and looks and feels like a smaller HP Envy Spectre XT or the HP DM1.
The tablet itself weighs 1.5 pounds, putting it in the same class as the iPad with Retina Display and the MS Surface RT minus Touch Cover keyboard. Unlike 3 pound convertibles like the Sony Vaio Duo 11 and Dell XPS 12, it's easy enough to hold for longer web browsing and reading sessions. The 1366 x 768 IPS display is bright, sharp and colorful. HP stated that the tablet will work with a digital pen to be sold as an optional accessory, but it's not available yet. And we believe it will be Amtel rather than Wacom or N-Trig, so we're not assured of quality.
Why consider the HP Envy X2 over the more powerful MS Surface Pro, Acer Iconia W700 or Samsung ATIV 700T running on Intel Core i5 CPUs? This Envy is silent thanks to the fanless design and battery life is double (more when attached to the keyboard dock that has a second battery). Standby lasts weeks rather than hours or days and there's no need to shut it down (just put it to sleep). If your computational needs are light but you want a silent, cool and long-lived mobile tablet-laptop, then the HP and Intel Atom have their advantages.
The Envy X2 has dual band Broadcom WiFi 802.11b/g/n, Bluetooth and NFC. There's a 720p front camera for video chat in apps like Skype and a surprisingly capable 8MP rear camera than can shoot 1080p video. The tablet has an SDXC microSD card slot and a 3.5mm audio jack. The keyboard dock has two USB 2.0 ports, a full size HDMI port, 3.5mm audio jack and a full size SDXC card slot. Then HP Envy X2 is sold bundled with the keyboard, and it's priced between the relatively inexpensive Acer Iconia W510 and the pricey Asus VivoTab TF810C with keyboard. It's available now online and at local retailers.
Here's our HP Envy X2 video review. Our full written review will follow in the coming days.