HP Envy x2 vs. Microsoft Surface Pro 6

HP Envy X2 review
Mark Coppock/Digital Trends

The Envy x2 is HP’s attempt to apply Intel technology to improve the mediocre performance of its ARM-based version of the same tablet. With its 7th-generation low-power Intel CPU, the Envy x2 on paper promises decent productivity performance and solid battery life to go with always-connected internet thanks to its LTE support.

But Microsoft’s Surface Pro 6 was just released, and that premium tablet stands in the way of any upstart that enters into the increasingly competitive detachable tablet market. Does the Envy x2 have what it takes to challenge the most successful Windows 10 tablet ever?


Surface Pro 6 Review
Dan Baker/Digital Trends

The Envy x2 fits the detachable tablet mold perfectly, with an all-metal chassis (except for a strip along the top of the backside) that’s well-constructed and solid. It’s a conservative silver color with largish black bezels up front — in other words, it’s a good-looking device that doesn’t stand out in what’s becoming a sea of tablets. It’s a slim tablet at 0.31 inches, and it’s light at 1.72 pounds, meaning it’s easy to hold in hand and use as a slate with the included HP Active Pen. You’ll find two USB-C ports (no Thunderbolt 3, unfortunately) to go with an LTE SIM slot and a 3.5mm audio jack, and so connectivity is good.

Unfortunately, the included keyboard cover isn’t quite as nice. In fact, it’s rather poorly designed, supporting only three angles with none of them being particularly comfortable. The most upright angle isn’t upright enough, the second angle is too far back, and the flattest angle isn’t flat enough. In addition, the cover isn’t stable, meaning it’s one of the least lapable detachable tablets you’ll find on the market today. The keyboard mechanism and touchpad are good, which just highlights the poor design of the cover itself.

For its part, the Surface Pro 6 carries on Microsoft’s highly recognizable Surface aesthetic and robust design. It’s a sliver of silver-grey magnesium that’s light (1.72 pounds), thin (0.33 inches), and extremely well-built. The Surface Pro 6 looks and feels like a substantial chunk of metal and glass, and it’s likely the most elegant and modern Windows tablet available. It also has the market’s smoothest and most flexible kickstand built in, which is vastly preferable to the Envy x2’s snap-on option. The usual Surface connectivity hasn’t changed, however — or should we say, it hasn’t improved. There’s a single USB-A 3.0 port and a mini-DisplayPort matched up with the usual Surface Connect port for power and docking. You won’t find a USB-C port on Microsoft’s latest tablet, which is a shame.

At the same time, the Surface Pro 6 is an outstanding 2-in-1, with support for all the usual input methods. The Type Cover, a $160 keyboard add-on, has a snappy key mechanism and consistent backlighting with a Microsoft Precision touchpad that provides smooth support for the full range of Windows 10 gestures. And then there’s the $100 Surface Pen that offers 4,096 levels of pressure sensitivity, tilt support, and the quickest response times around. And, of course, the Pixelsense display is also touch-enabled.

The Surface Pro 6 is not only a better tablet, but it’s also a better laptop. It wins this round handily.


HP Envy X2 review
Mark Coppock/Digital Trends

This HP Envy x2 is actually HP’s Intel version, released alongside a Qualcomm Snapdragon version to offer better performance than the ARM processor could provide. By equipping an Intel Core i5-7Y54, the Envy x2 delivers performance that’s good enough for general productivity and media consumption use and not much more. The Envy x2 won’t be your video editing workstation, and the SATA solid-state drive (SSD) won’t win any storage speed awards either. The limited 4GB of RAM also means that multitasking performance will be limited.

The Surface Pro 6 received an upgrade this time around to Intel’s 8th-gen U-Series processors. The Core i5 and i7 processors are quad-core CPUs supporting eight threads, and they’re both efficient and fast. That means there’s significant power squeezed inside the Surface Pro’s slate that’s good for more demanding productivity tasks. Thanks to the fast PCIe SSD that Microsoft sourced for the Surface Pro 6, this is one fast tablet.

Considering the display, the Surface Pro 6 is again a step above the Envy x2. It uses a 12.3-inch IPS display that’s quite sharp thanks to a 2,736 x 1,824 (267 PPI) resolution, and it’s also productivity-friendly thanks to a 3:2 aspect ratio. HP used a 12.3-inch 1,920 x 1,280 (188 PPI) display that’s not nearly as sharp, and you’ll notice more pixels when you’re staring at text. The Surface Pro 6 also enjoys the significantly higher contrast and brightness, although both tablets have just average color gamuts for premium machines.

The Surface Pro 6 is faster and it sports a much better display. What’s not to like?


Surface Pro 6 Review
Dan Baker/Digital Trends

Both of these tablets on their own are equally thin and light and thus easy to carry around. Attach their keyboard covers, though, and the Surface Pro 6 is slightly more svelte. Even so, they’re just about lost when tucked inside a backpack, and that’s a good thing. But size and weight are just two factors to weigh when considering portability. Battery life is also important, and here these two tablets are again closely matched.

In our most demanding Basemark web benchmark, the Envy x20 managed over five hours where the Surface Book 2 petered out in less than four hours. Each tablet lasted right around nine and a half hours when browsing the web, and taking those two scores together you’ll likely get slightly more productivity work out of the Envy x2’s battery. But the Surface Pro 6 lasted for a very long 14 hours playing a local video while the Envy x2 shut down after 11 hours — meaning that you’ll get more video binging out of Microsoft’s tablet.

This category is pretty evenly matched, and your choice comes down to whether productivity or media consumption longevity matters more to you.

The Surface Pro 6 doesn’t get much of a challenge

surface pro 6
Dan Baker/Digital Trends

The Envy x2 is a relatively affordable tablet if you go by the current sale price of $900 (compared to a retail price of $1,150). That’s for a configuration including a Core i5-7Y54, 4GB of RAM, and a 128GB SATA SSD, and the keyboard cover and pen are in the box.

The Surface Pro 6 is more expensive, starting at $900 for a Core i5, 8GB of RAM, and a 128GB SSD in the Platinum color. However, the Type Cover isn’t included, meaning you’ll spend at least another $130. If you want to ink with the Surface Pen, then you’ll have to budget another $100. If you max out the Surface Pro 6, then you can spend as much as $2,300 on a Core i7, 16GB of RAM, and a 1TB SSD.

Yes, the Microsoft Surface Pro 6 is costlier, but the adage “you get what you pay for” applies here. You’re much better off spending the extra money to get a much better detachable tablet.

Product Review

Controversy has dogged the MacBook Pro lately. Is it still a good purchase?

The MacBook Pro is a controversial laptop these days -- and that's unfortunate. Due to some divisive changes Apple made to the functionality of the MacBook Pro, fans are more split. Does the 8th-gen refresh change that?

The best iPhone 6 cases for style and protection

No one likes a bruised Apple. Scratches, scuffs, and cracks on a new iPhone 6 are enough to ruin anyone’s day. Check out the best iPhone 6 cases and get some protection on that shiny new smartphone.

Should you buy the affordable MacBook Air, or is the MacBook Pro worth the price?

Though they both share Retina Displays and similar keyboards, there are still some specs differences and other changes that differentiate the new 2018 MacBook Air and MacBook Pro. In this guide, we stack the two up against each other.

Is it worth spending more for the Surface Pro, or is the Surface Go good enough?

The Surface Go versus Surface Pro -- which is better? While the higher price tag of one might make you think it's an easy choice, a deeper dive into what each offers makes it a closer race than you might assume.

Stop dragging windows on your Mac. Here's how to use Split View to multitask

The latest iterations of MacOS offer a native Split View feature that can automatically divide screen space between two applications. Here's how to use Split View on a Mac, adjust it as needed, and how it can help out.

It's not all free money. Here's what to know before you try to mine Bitcoin

Mining Bitcoin today is harder than it used to be, but if you have enough time, money, and cheap electricity, you can still turn a profit. Here's how to get started mining Bitcoin at home and in the cloud.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: camera with A.I. director, robot arm assistant

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!

Need a free alternative to Adobe Illustrator? Here are our favorites

Photoshop and other commercial tools can be expensive, but drawing software doesn't need to be. This list of the best free drawing software is just as powerful as some of the more expensive offerings.

What is fixed wireless 5G? Here’s everything you need to know

Here's fixed wireless 5G explained! Learn what you need to know about this effective new wireless technology, when it's available, how much it costs, and more. If you're thinking about 5G, this guide can help!

Fix those internet dead zones by turning an old router into a Wi-Fi repeater

Is there a Wi-Fi dead zone in your home or office? A Wi-Fi repeater can help. Don't buy a new one, though. Here is how to extend Wi-Fi range with another router you have lying around.

Heal your wrist aches and pains with one of these top ergonomic mice

If you have a growing ache in your wrist, it might be worth considering ergonomic mice alternatives. But which is the best ergonomic mouse for you? One of these could be the ticket to the right purchase for you.

These are the best indie games you can get on PC right now

Though many indie games now come to consoles as well, there's still a much larger selection on PC. With that in mind, we've created a list of the best indie games for PC, with an emphasis on games that are only available on PC.

Want a MacBook that will last all day on a single charge? Check these models out

Battery life is one of the most important factors in buying any laptop, especially MacBooks. Their battery life is typically average, but there are some standouts. Knowing which MacBook has the best battery life can be rather useful.

Want a Dell laptop with an RTX 2060? Cross the new XPS 15 off your list

The next iteration of Dell's XPS 15 laptop won't come with an option for an RTX 2060, according to Alienware's Frank Azor. You could always opt for a new Alienware m15 or m17 instead.