Google started pushing Chrome OS tablets a few years ago, but with the Pixel Slate being a pretty spectacular failure, the task of bringing that idea to life has fallen to the company’s partners. Lenovo was the first to achieve excellence with its IdeaPad Duet in 2020, and now HP has taken vision one step closer. I’ve spent a few weeks with the HP Chromebook X2, and I think it’s a bit closer to the âidealâ Chrome OS tablet.
The HP Chromebook X2 first impressed me with its physical hardware. Taking it out of the box, the weight of the metallic slate immediately reminded me of my iPad Pro, and in a way, it feels even better than this much more expensive machine, at least to me. Bypassing that hardware, there’s a SIM slot, volume rocker, and two USB-C ports on the left side. I’m not a fan of putting both ports on the same side, but it’s something you can live with. The alternate side has a magnetic docking point for the included USI stylus.
The top has a power button with a built-in fingerprint sensor – and that’s great! – as well as two microphones. To round things out, the bottom has a docking port for the included keyboard / trackpad. The metal back of the tablet is also packed with magnets for the included kickstand, which adds a lot of grip when using the device as a tablet, as well as a very sturdy kickstand.
The hardware alone made me love the Chromebook X2 from the get-go, and that’s a feeling that continued into the rest of the build. The 11-inch, 2160 Ã 1440 display is crisp, easily beating the next best Chrome OS tablet, Lenovo’s IdeaPad Duet. I wish it had some form of built-in anti-glare, but it does the job well, and it’s bright enough that I can use it in my garden on a sunny day, albeit in the shade. The 3: 2 aspect ratio is also great for getting things done, especially as a writer.
The HP Chromebook X2 is built on Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 7c chip, and specifically on the older Gen 1 version of that chip. This comes with better battery life and better LTE (something I personally haven’t used), but with the slight drawback of less than impressive performance.
Like last year’s Lenovo IdeaPad Duet, the X2 struggles with anything beyond the basics. Reading online content, using basic Android apps, and streaming games from services like Stadia and GeForce Now is fine, but the experience of using this machine for work wasn’t that great. The biggest issues I encountered were with WordPress, which was quite behind the 7c chip due to the resource-intensive block editor format. It works and I can easily get through a day’s work on this machine, but it’s just not as fast and smooth as recent Intel or AMD Chromebooks I’ve used. The 7c even meant I couldn’t use the new Adobe Photoshop web app.
It’s no worse than the IdeaPad Duet, but it’s not better either. This is an important thing to note.
Is this compromise worth it? It will depend on what you are doing! If the X2 is to be used primarily for web browsing and other low-resource tasks, I doubt you have any issues. When I used this machine to read an article, refer to a recipe while cooking, or just play videos it was solid, but the power here just wasn’t enough to run it more often in my usual workflow.
When it comes to battery life, I haven’t really spent enough time using the X2 in a continuous session to give a correct estimate. I will say, however, that the standby time has been quite good, in my experience, and I never really had to worry about the battery. This is probably mainly thanks to the Snapdragon 7c chip. Charging is done via USB-C and requires a 20W power source for reasonable speeds. Kinda hilarious, and in a situation most people would never use, I tried plugging in two 18W cords I had at my desk and it actually took power from both, promising a full charge in less than an hour from less than 10% at the start. I doubt this is something HP would consider common practice, but it’s good that it actually seems like an option!
The other little obstacle to my workflow was the keyboard. It’s not bad at all, really. The keys are downright ideal for travel and they have a nice click, they’re just small. I felt cramped typing on this keyboard, and the flex in the bridge would sometimes cause the enter key or other keys to hit unexpectedly. Maybe it’s because the âdeckâ is raised, but if so, it’s a compromise that I consider useful. This angle greatly facilitates typing.
The spacing is about as good as you can get in this small size, but there’s just no workaround for the size constraint of trying to use a keyboard with a small 11 tablet. inches while trying to get a trackpad in the mix. I think things would feel a lot better if the next variation of HP upgraded to 11.5 or 12 inches. Somehow, as it stands, the keyboard spacing of the Lenovo tablet is better despite having a slightly smaller footprint. One thing this keyboard does a lot better than the Lenovo version is that it holds in place when closed instead of sliding across the screen. It is a much better experience when you carry the tablet from one place to another.
The HP Chromebook X2 is by far the best interpretation of a Chrome OS tablet I’ve tried so far, with better build quality, a vastly larger display, and an integrated fingerprint sensor putting it a few steps down. above the IdeaPad Duet. But it’s still not worth its retail price. $ 599 is way too much for what you get, especially on the performance side. At this point, I would wholeheartedly recommend an iPad Air with a keyboard before that. However, the X2 often drops to around $ 399, like this week. At this price, the story changes completely, and I think it’s absolutely a worthwhile purchase if it fits your needs.
At the time of publication, Best Buy is currently selling the X2 for that price of $ 399 in blue and gray.
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