HP Envy x2 review: Hands-on

Windows 10 has finally arrived on Snapdragon and the HP Envy x2 is the first tablet to be announced on the platform. Here’s our hands-on review from the Snapdragon Summit in Hawaii. 

Price

One of the big issues we have at the moment is we don’t know how much the Envy x2 will cost. HP has only said that it will be available ‘Spring 2018’. 

Although the Asus NovaGo  has been announced as another Windows 10 device on Snapdragon with a price of $599, we fear that the Envy x2 won’t hit this price point and could well be $100+ more for the base model.

That said, it’s likely to be cheaper than some key rivals.

HP Envy x2 stand

Design and build

In terms of design, the Envy x2 is hardly anything new, but is a little different to the likes of the Surface or even HP’s own Spectre x2.

Instead of a built-in kickstand, it’s part of the keyboard cover so it’s a sort of all-or-nothing situation. You can still use it in various different modes but it’s all a bit more fiddly and limited. The case is faux-leather and certainly feels like plastic. 

The keyboard is decent enough and backlit and the trackpad is also a good size for a 12in device and responsive.

The good news is that the Envy x2 looks and feels great. It’s a stylish and desirable gadget. Build quality is premium with machined aluminium and that’s one of the reasons we think HP will be going for a higher price than the NovaGo. 

One of the things having Snapdragon inside brings is the possibility for thin designs. HP has made that promise a reality with the Envy x2 thinner than a lot of flagships smartphones out there at just 6.9mm.

HP Envy x2 tablet and pen

It’s impressive and that also means the devices is light at 680g. However, it does have drawbacks. You’re probably used to using Windows with various gadgets and peripherals but the Envy x2 only has a single USB-C port rather than any full-size.

So this means getting additional adapters or Bluetooth accessories – not quite the ‘every port you need’ as HP suggests. A rep says some markets might get an adapter in the box.

There’s a mircoSD card slot, which is handy but many would prefer a full-size SD slot – particularly photographers.

Specs and features

There’s nothing dramatic about the display here. It’s 12in and uses a 1920x1280 resolution. It’s perfectly suitable for the job and we’re impressed with how crisp and bright it is.

The display supports the HP Digital Pen stylus which we’re told is included in the box. 

HP Envy x2 screen

It’s what’s hidden beneath that’s really important here and why you’ll want to buy the Envy x2 over rivals with Intel. The problem is that all these key elements need properly testing to see if it’s all it’s cracked up to be.

This starts with performance, as we don’t know how well Windows 10 runs on the Snapdragon 835. Especially when it comes to things like emulation of win32 software. However, Qualcomm says it has worked hard with Microsoft to make sure everything is smooth. Office 365, for example, has been optimised for ARM.

It appears good after some hands-on time but we need to run proper benchmarks and push the device to see what the limits are. Qualcomm has already said this kind of device isn't made for gaming.

A key point is connectivity, so the X16 modem means Gigabit LTE wherever you go. No need to plug in a USB dongle, find Wi-Fi or hotspot to your phone. Using a Windows device in the same way as you phone in this way sounds great but we don’t know what it’s like in the real world yet.

There’s also the big question of how much a data plan from mobile networks will cost.

HP Envy x2 case

Battery life is the other headline feature here with HP touting a whopping 20 hour battery life of local video playback. That’s three hours more than the Surface Book 2 which is much bigger, heavier and has two batteries. 

With 700 hours of standby, the Envy x2 is supposed to be always on like your phone. With this level of power efficiency, Microsoft says you’ll be able to use it for a week before charging - although this will be with occasional use rather than a full-on day of work.

To achieve this from something so small and light would be quite something and potentially the game changer, so we’re looking forward to seeing whether it lives up to the hype.

Onto the somewhat more boring specs and the Envy x2 comes with up to 256GB of storage. It also has a 13Mp rear camera, 5Mp front camera and comes with Windows 10 S so you get features like Ink, Cortana and Hello. You can upgrade to Windows Pro for free if you like.

SHOULD I BUY HP ENVY X2?

There's no question that the HP Envy x2 is a nice Windows tablet with good build quality and decent specs. The keyboard case including the kickstand is a little bit fiddly but there are more pressing issues. 

For starters, we don't know the price and worry HP holding back means it's not good news. There's also far too much to test in terms of Windows 10 on Snapdragon - namely battery life and performance - before we can say whether the new category is a goer.