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Posted in Articles on 05/5/2017
(updated on 03/5/2017)
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When you need to get work done mobility is important and HP have recently released a couple of products to help that, they are pretty pricey so let’s see if you get your money’s worth.
The HP Elite X2 is a 2-in-1 PC aimed at business professionals looking for a computer that’s light, portable, and stylish featuring Intel Sky Lake processors and a touch pen interface.
At first glance you can't help but notice the design similarities to the Surface Pro 4. It's roughly the same size and weight, a little heavier, the difference is the HP X2 is made out of aviation grade aluminium, resulting in a professional and clean looking notebook. The hinge on the back has 150 degrees of tilt and HP have designed it to be opened 8 times a day, 7 days a week for up to 5 years. As far as build quality goes it looks like it’s designed to take a few knocks out in the field.
So let’s get the specs out of the way, there's a couple of SKUs but the one we are looking at here has a Sky Lake core M7 and that’s fanless so the whole unit is completely silent, it’s also got 8GBs RAM and 256gb of M.2 storage.
In terms of ports you have a USB type C that doubles as a charging port. A micro SD card slot, USB 3.0, headphone jack, volume rocker, power button and on the back a fingerprint scanner which is kind of like those old school laptop ones. The screen is sitting at 12.3 inches at a nice a clear resolution but its just a little too dark. I had to keep that screen at 75-100% brightness when I used it and this did seem to chew into the battery life a bit. The panel is Gorilla Glass 3 so expect to have a small amount of glare but its durable against surface scratches.
Above the display we have a 2MP camera that can record 1080p video, it doesn’t support the Windows facial recognition feature, but will be adequate enough for video conferencing. On the back there’s also a 5MP camera, with a flash. I found that the camera had a bit of a hard time focusing but its good enough for scanning documents and signing them with the included Action Pen. The pen uses Wacom technology and has 2040 levels of pressure sensitivity which is double what you find on the Surface Pro 4. It has quick shortcuts for launching One Note and another two at the bottom that you can assign to anything you want. It's actually a really good stylus and I prefer it over the Surface pen; it is accurate, consistent and the palm rejection technology works well.
But unlike the Surface pen which has magnets built in, the HP action pen gives you nowhere to keep it while you move around. You can’t stick it to the side, and clipping it to the case just doesn't feel secure enough. They did actually include a small loop in the box that you can tie to the computer itself, but I didn't really consider this a good alternative.
The HP action pen is included in the box, along with the travel keyboard. That keyboard is actually pretty good too, it's thin and made of metal which makes it feel a lot stronger than most other folios. The keys are really nice, in my opinion they feel better than the Surface Pro type cover, with 1.5 mm of travel distance and 2 levels of backlight brightness. The glass track pad below is spacious but not the best, don't get me wrong it does the job but I didn't find it to be as accurate as other detachables out there, and found I was dragging my finger more than once to move the cursor most times.
Something strange is that this device comes with stereo Bang & Olufsen speakers which is a reputable company known for making high end gear, but I was actually quite disappointed in the speakers. The highs were decent, the mids were washed out and there was absolutely no bass, in fact the mono speaker on my iPhone got louder and in my opinion had better sound quality overall.
For consumers I believe there are better options out there, for businesses considering the Elite X2 for mass deployment it does contain all the HP security features such as HP bios protection and power on authentication. There's also no glue inside, so with a couple of suction cups to remove the front panel you're able to upgrade components or service the units quite easily which is a huge advantage.
It’s made to get work done, video creators and anyone that uses AutoCAD might want to consider something more powerful, but with that being said this 2-in-1 had no problem with having heaps of Chrome tabs, full HD video viewing and even a fair amount of Photoshop use was completely fine. It comes with Windows 10 Pro 64bit, and even has a sim tray for working and accessing the web on the go which is something the Surface Pro lacks.
All in all there is a couple of strange things, like how they there's a charging notification light but the included L shaped plug covers it so you can’t see when its finished charging. If you turn it upside down you can see the light but then you're covering the micro USB tray and USB port. Also having only one USB-C port means you cant hook the computer up to a monitor and charge the unit at the same time which is inconvenient.
There’s no place to keep the pen, the speakers are poor and battery life is average when you need to keep the screen on full brightness all the time. But really those small problems wont be deal breakers to the market this is aimed at.
This device has done a lot of things right; the stand is high quality and can be adjusted to any position, not just two or three adjustments, its light and portable and has enough power to run some pretty intense programs. The action pen is spot on, it comes with the HP enterprise and security apps, and HP have made this device easily serviceable by not gluing components down and using standard Philips screws. There's a Kensington lock built into the side, the fingerprint scanner works well and this all comes with some very high quality accessories already in the box. If you're thinking of buying this to deploy across the enterprise for upper management the Elite X2 is a solid choice.
There's also the Elite X3, which seems to be basically what the Lumia 950XL should have been, and takes business portability to the next level.
You can find our hands on review of the Elite X3 here.