A week with: The HP Slatebook X2
Wednesday 21 August 2013
* Price: £379.99
* 2-in-1 design offers both a tablet and notebook experience
* 10.1-inch screen with 1080p display
* 32GB onboard storage with two SD card slots; HDMI, USB inputs
* Latest 1.8GHz Tegra 4 processor from Nvidia for gaming and video playback
What is it?
A new hybrid computer from HP. A 10.1-inch screen easily attaches to a keyboard base (91 per cent full-sized, so very usable) with the finished setup supposedly combining "the flexibility of a tablet" with "the productivity of a notebook".
How is it as a tablet?
Brilliant. The screen is gorgeous with full 1080p resolution, sharp colours and a pixel density of 224ppi, making it easily the visual equal of other 10in tablets such as the Nexus or the iPad. It runs a pretty much pristine version of Android (4.2.2) with minimal bloatware (extra guff), giving you everything you'd expect from Google's tablet experience: Gmail, Maps and Chrome.
However, the real joy of using the SlateBook is just how quick and responsive it all is. This is thanks to 2GB of RAM and the quad-core, 1.8GHz Tegra 4 processor. The latter, technically a system-on-a-chip rather than a processor, combines both a GPU and CPU and is heavily orientated towards running graphic-intensive programs. It's been touted as ideal for gaming but the real benefits are smoother web browsing and zero wait times on apps.
How is it as a notebook?
Whether or not the SlateBook will work as a notebook really depends on what you need it for. If your work involves juggling a couple of text documents, email, and a small gaggle of browser-tabs, then the user interface just isn't slick enough. Hardware-wise, the SlateBook is more than capable of keeping all those balls in the air, but with a mushy trackpad, a preponderance of full-screen apps and the lack of persistent dock or taskbar you're likely to feel lost.
Despite all this, the base component and keyboard doesn't feel like a useless add-on. Although you certainly couldn't tap away on the thing for hours, it's perfect for going through your emails or doing some work on the go. Speedy boot times and an all-day battery life (there's actually two packs – one in the screen and one in the base) make it a great companion device if you're moving about during the day.
How does it compare to the competition?
The SlateBook is pretty uniquely positioned. There are a lot of hybrids about (including HP's own Envy x2) but they tend to be bigger, pricier devices that run Windows 8. Microsoft's Surface RT does beat the SlateBook in terms of cost (they go for as little as £279) but its use of the much-maligned Windows RT platform and a flimsy kickstand make it difficult to work on.
If you're just looking for a tablet for fun, you're better off waiting for the next Nexus 7 (£239 for the 32GB model, out 28 August) but if price isn't an issue and you think you'll want to work on the go every now and again, then it's definitely worth checking out the SlateBook x2 for yourself.
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