HP Envy x2 review
The Intel Atom brand tends to find itself attached to bargain-basement hardware. But HP’s Atom-based Envy x2 is an upmarket convertible. It runs full Windows 8, sports an 11.6in detachable touchscreen, and supports both desktop and tablet-style apps.
In fact, at first glance the Envy x2 looks like a premium Ultrabook. The robust aluminium chassis measures a slender 19mm thick, and inside a solid, spacious MacBook-style keyboard bespeaks the Envy x2’s suitability for serious work. The assembly feels a little heavy in the hand, but that’s a trick of its compact frame: in reality, the keyboard and screen together weigh an eminently portable 1.41kg. In detached mode, the tablet part on its own comes in at only 710g – little more than the iPad’s 652g, despite the distinctly larger display area
It seems quite nippy in use, despite its low-power architecture. Windows 8 is far more responsive than its predecessors on lightweight hardware, and the Atom Z2760 (codenamed Cloverview) is a step up from the netbook CPUs of yore. Full HD videos on YouTube and hi-definition iPlayer shows play without a hitch, and look great on the Envy x2’s 1,366 x 768 IPS panel, with its vibrant 416 cd/m2 brightness and solid 849:1 contrast ratio. The compact speakers set into the bottom of the tablet/display aren’t exactly loud, but they’re clear and balanced enough for music and movies.
To be clear, this still isn’t a system we’d recommend for 3D gaming – or for demanding desktop applications for that matter. An overall benchmark score of 0.21 confirms that the modern Atom remains nowhere near as powerful as even a budget Core i3. But for light media duties, everyday browsing and word processing it’s fine.
The upside of the Atom is great battery life. In standalone tablet mode, the Envy x2 achieved 10hrs 19mins hours of full-screen video playback. That compares pretty favourably to the nine hours achieved by the ARM-based Surface RT and the 9hrs 45mins of the fourth-generation iPad 4 – not bad for a full Windows 8 system. In its laptop-style configuration, the Envy x2 does even better, thanks to a second battery tucked away in the keyboard unit: in our standard battery test, the docked system achieved a terrific 20hrs 28mins of light use.