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HP Chromebook x2 review: Gives Surface Pro, Pixel Slate, iPad Pro a run for their money

The Good The x2's compelling design makes it simple to shift from laptop to tablet and back. Stylus and keyboard included. The touchscreen looks good and is responsive. It has two cameras, and great speakers. There's a sufficient array of ports and connections. Battery life is respectable.

The Bad Integrated storage is limited to a measly 32GB. The keyboard is a bit mushy. Awkward stylus holster.

The Bottom Line HP’s Chromebook x2 raises the bar for the two-in-one category, combining effective design, peppy performance and a fine display at a killer price.

8.5 Overall
  • Design 8
  • Features 9
  • Performance 8
  • Battery 8

Let's get right to it: I love the HP x2. It's a terrific Chromebook laptop with a great display, a keyboard that's comfortable to type on and surprisingly peppy performance. And it's also a fabulous tablet -- thin and lightweight, responsive to touch and stylus and perceptive to orientation. Plus -- and this is a big one -- it comes with stylus and keyboard included at a time when many premium hybrids insist you buy them separately.

If you can live without the few remaining apps that require Windows or Mac OS -- and trust me, most of you can -- the Chromebook x2 is your jam.

Accessories included

Priced at $599, the x2's closest competitor is Google's new Pixel Slate, which also runs Google's stripped-down Chrome OS and starts at $599 (though higher-end configurations cost more). But the Pixel Slate comes without two vital accessories, and adding the $99 Pixel stylus and $199 keyboard jacks up the price to $899.

021-hp-chromebook-x2
Sarah Tew/CNET

You run into the same problem with Microsoft's Surface Pro 6, which starts at $899, and the 12.9-inch version of Apple's newest iPad Pro, which starts at $799. Adding the stylus and keyboard adds hundreds more to those already hefty price tags.

Simple, straightforward and fast

Now, the x2's specs aren't particularly impressive, especially compared to the devices named above, with the exception of the entry-level Pixel Slate, which runs an inferior Celeron CPU. The x2 comes with an Intel Core m3-7Y30 processor, 4GB of RAM and a pitiful 32GB hard drive. 

HP doesn't offer alternate configurations in the US, though the version it sells in the UK has twice the RAM and storage capacity for £799, which converts to roughly $1,015 -- a price that totally undermines the x2's appeal. It's not yet available in Australia.

008-hp-chromebook-x2
Sarah Tew/CNET

And yet, somehow, these components come together in way that surpassed my expectations. Often, two-in-ones seem confused -- staggering when you switch from laptop to tablet, or just moving slowly in general. But the x2 is positively zippy. I experienced zero performance lag, in tablet or laptop mode, when loading up websites or opening apps. I hit the button to install Spotify, blinked, and it was done. 

HP Chromebook x2 (12-f015nr)

Price as reviewed $599
Display size/resolution 12.3-inch 2,400x1,600-pixel touchscreen
CPU Dual core 2.6GHz Intel Core m3-7Y30
Memory 4GB LPDDR3 SDRAM 
Graphics Intel HD Graphics 615
Storage 32GB HDD
Webcam Built-in 5-megapixel camera (front), 13-megapixel camera (rear) and dual array mic
Networking 802.11ac wireless, Bluetooth 4.2
Operating system Chrome OS

Yes, a 32GB hard drive is lame -- but this is a Chromebook, after all. Some degree of reliance on internet-connected apps and storage services is part of the deal, and when it works, it's fast. That noted, Chromebooks have evolved; they're no longer confined to online-only apps and tools. Most, including this one, support the Google Play Store, which lets you download and use almost any Android app, whether you're connected to the internet or not.

Convertibility, uncompromised

Like the Surface Pro 6 and Pixel Slate, the x2 has a 12.3-inch touchscreen. Though it has the lowest resolution of the bunch (2,400x1,600 pixels) and is no match for the iPad Pro's Liquid Retina display, it's more than good enough for writing documents and reading articles. Whether I used a finger or the included stylus, the x2 was responsive and accurate. And the x2 converts elegantly to a standalone tablet -- simply lift the display off of two plastic protrusions connected to the keyboard.

018-hp-chromebook-x2
Sarah Tew/CNET

I watched the Netflix stand up comedy miniseries Bumping Mics -- I recommend it, by the way -- and some short documentaries on the New York Times' website. Video looked bright, vibrant and super crisp. I don't mind the x2's significant bezel, which makes for a good grip when in tablet mode. And the Bang & Olufson stereo speakers are better than average: surprisingly loud and balanced, though, like nearly all laptops and tablets, weaker on the low-end.

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