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HP ZBook x2, a detachable designed for the creative class

Well-designed and feature-packed, the ZBook x2 G4 workstation delivers the color accuracy and stylus feel a lot of creatives want.

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Lori Grunin
Hp ZBook x2
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Design

I'm not a huge fan of the x2's aesthetics, but it does look pretty good from this angle.

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No disconnect

When you detach the x2's keyboard, it automatically switches to Bluetooth so you can keep using it. This lets you use the tablet section like a tablet, without giving up keyboard shortcuts.

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Not cookie cutter

The ZBook has an unusual design aesthetic that forgoes modern sleek lines for something more muscular-looking. While it's not really rugged, it's designed to be more durable than a typical consumer detachable.

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Left side

In addition to the power switch, the headphone jack and volume buttons sit on the right side.

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Keyboard

You can tilt the keyboard for comfortable typing or lay it flat.

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Keyboard

The keyboard has a pretty good feel for a detachable. The backing is stiff, there's a reasonable amount of travel with a touch of kick and it has a nice big touchpad.

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HP ZBook Pen

HP and Wacom worked together on the EMR stylus -- that means no batteries -- which supports 4,096 levels of pressure, tilt and rotation, and feels nicely balanced.  It's only got a single button on the barrel though, plus the eraser, which makes it impractical for some 3D work. And you can't use Wacom's styluses with the x2.

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Creative Cloud

HP targets Adobe Creative Cloud users with the laptop; it comes with the Creative Cloud app preinstalled, and the company sells the x2 in preconfigured models in the US that are sort of optimized for specific applications. For instance, the $2,700 Photographer config is supposedly for using Photoshop and Lightroom, but there's no reason a Digital Artist needs a lesser $2,280 system for those applications plus Adobe Illustrator. I'd ignore the "helpful" categorizations while shopping.

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Kickstand

The kickstand has good tension and can prop at fairly acute angles. 

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Kickstand

You can also lay the tablet back at a pretty obtuse angle.

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Size

It's a 14-inch notebook, which for some reason looks huge in this photo. It's not light though at just under 5 lbs/2.2kg.

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Vents

The x2 stays surprisingly cool given the hardware that's inside. It's got two fans, which pull cool air in through the sides and vent the warm air through the top.

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Connections

It doesn't charge through USB so it has a dedicated power connector. There are two USB-C/Thunderbolt ports, an HDMI connection and a USB 3 Type-A. There's also an SD card slot and a fingerprint reader.

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QuickKeys

Like Wacom's MobileStudio Pro, the x2 has a set of programmable buttons on both sides of the display which are relatively easy to differentiate by feel.

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QuickKeys close up

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Camera

There's a low-resolution camera on the back of the tablet.

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Not the best angle

This isn't the most comfortable position in which to use the stylus, but I'm just posing for the photo.

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B&O speakers

The speakers are on the top of the tablet. As you'd expect, they're not great, and I find that the B&O-optimized profiles don't help.

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Keyboard

Here the keyboard is flattened. Interestingly, many people who saw the system assumed that this is the correct position for the keyboard.

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Magnets

You can see the connections where the keyboard attaches to the tablet.

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QuickKeys

The buttons are physically the same on both sides, but you can program them separately.

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Touchscreen

It's actually more comfortable to scroll with your thumb rather than torquing your wrist. But once again, posing.

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Moar keyboard

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I write therefore I type

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