HP Envy x2 (Qualcomm) hands-on review

Slim and suave, HP’s Envy x2 is the Don Juan of Windows 2-in-1s

HP’s handsome Envy x2 will make you ask ‘where can I pre-order?’
HP’s handsome Envy x2 will make you ask ‘where can I pre-order?’
HP’s handsome Envy x2 will make you ask ‘where can I pre-order?’

Highs

  • Stunning design
  • Handsome keyboard cover
  • Attractive 1,920 x 1,200 display
  • 20 hours of battery life
  • Standard LTE

Lows

  • Just one USB-C port
  • Pricing is a big unknown

When we first head Qualcomm planned to offer its Snapdragon processor in Windows 10 laptops, our minds immediately thought of budget Chromebooks. Those inexpensive laptops can limbo under $200, but sacrifice a lot to get there.

One look at the HP Envy x2 and you’ll know it’s a different animal. The 12.3-inch detachable PC wraps the tablet portion in a luxurious blue leather keyboard cover that provides protection and serves a stand. Unwrap the Envy from the cover, and even the tablet alone proves formidably luxurious. Its smooth metal edges wrap around a beautiful 1,920 x 1,200 display that’s protected by Corning Gorilla Glass 4. It’s a sleek device, even down to details like the stand hinge, which is exposed and coated in eye-catching chrome. In fact, the Envy x2 is the most handsome Windows 10 detachable we’ve ever laid hands on. That includes the Surface Pro which, though undeniably solid, is nowhere near as suave.

The Envy x2 is the most handsome Windows 10 detachable we’ve ever laid hands on.

Unlike Asus’ NovaGo, the other Qualcomm-powered PC shown at the Snapdragon Tech Summit, HP’s Envy x2 looks built to capitalize on the LTE connectivity and long battery life promised by its mobile-first hardware. The tablet alone weighs just 1.5 pounds, and is less than 0.3 inches thick, putting it not far off the benchmark the iPad and most Android tablets. Adding the keyboard cover tacks on just an extra 1.1 pounds. Together, the entire device is well under the 3 pound weight of the NovaGo. It’s also a few tenths of a pound lighter than the Microsoft Surface Pro and Apple iPad Pro.

Surprisingly, the keyboard feels good despite its minimal weight. It’s not quite equal to the excellence of the Surface Type Cover, but it’s close — and certainly better than Apple’s Smart Keyboard. Key travel is quoted at 1.3mm, which is on par with most slim ultrabooks and 2-in-1s. The touchpad is quite large relative to the Envy x2’s svelte dimensions and it felt extremely responsive. We had no trouble waggling through Windows 10’s multi-touch gestures.

Matt Smith/Digital Trends

Inside you’ll find Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 835 processor, a dramatic departure from the Intel Core chips normally found inside 2-in-1s. Opting for mobile hardware does mean sacrificing some performance, as even Qualcomm’s own metrics show. That said, the HP Envy x2 didn’t feel slow at first blush. Apps do seem to take a moment longer to load at times, and some Windows 10 animations seemed not quite as smooth. Once loaded, though, applications like Edge, PowerPoint, OneNote, Calendar, and Calculator felt just as they do on any Intel Core device.

The optimization of Windows 10 S is partially to thank — but remember that unlike Windows 10 Home and Pro, it will keep you locked into using Windows Store software. We know that Qualcomm’s hardware can run Windows 10 Home and Pro, but we don’t know if HP intends to offer them with the Envy x2.

Battery life and wireless connectivity are the Envy x2’s priority, and the numbers look good on paper. HP says it can manage 20 hours of 1080p video playback and over 700 hours (or 30 days) of standby time. Microsoft’s Terry Myerson supported those claims with his own statements during the Snapdragon Tech Summit, claiming he was able to use a Snapdragon laptop all week without charging. The limited time we used it means we couldn’t test that claim, but we can say that HP presented all its demo units without chargers, and the one we saw easily retained over 96 percent of its charge.

Speaking of which, there appears to be only one place to charge -– or plug anything in. A single USB-C port. A headphone jack is also included, but like the 12-inch MacBook, that appears to be it for ports.

LTE connectivity was not operable on the unit we tested, but we don’t need to use it to know why it’s important. Like the Asus NovaGo and other unannounced Snapdragon-powered PCs, the HP Envy x2 can connect to your mobile data plan. That’s particularly useful with the Envy, since its tablet portion can be separated from the keyboard and is light enough to throw into your bag worrying it’ll drag you down. In fact, the Envy x2 is so small that we can see it becoming an “everyday carry” item for some people, just as like an iPad with LTE.

There is one piece missing from the puzzle. Pricing. While we know the HP Envy x2 will arrive in spring of 2018, we don’t know how much it’ll cost. Given its 8GB of RAM and “up to” 256GB of solid state storage, we imagine it won’t be cheap — $1,000 looks entirely possible. That sounds like a lot for a device that doesn’t have Intel inside, but we think a long look is all you’ll need to start wondering where you can pre-order.

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