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HP Envy x2 (Snapdragon 835) review: A huge gas tank, but not enough horsepower

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MSRP: $999.99

The Good The HP Envy x2 looks slick, has terrific battery life and comes with LTE connectivity. The included HP Digital Pen lets you take advantage of the sharp 12.3-inch touchscreen without smudging it up.

The Bad The Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor that powers the Envy x2 just isn't powerful enough. It only has one port, a USB-C slot.

The Bottom Line While it has many strengths, the HP Envy x2 doesn't have enough processing power to make it an easy recommendation.

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7.6 Overall
  • Design 8
  • Features 7
  • Performance 6
  • Battery 9

Review Sections

Every year, new smartphones come out with fancy new processors that promise quicker speeds than you've ever experience. Every year, I buy one of these smartphones and find that, yeah, it's fast, but that new power isn't really needed to browse the internet or surf Instagram.

That's why when Microsoft and Qualcomm announced a new line of Windows 10 ARM laptops and two-in-one's, using smartphone processors, I thought I wouldn't notice a huge day-to-day difference. My phone has been fast enough for years, so the latest smartphone processors should be more than robust enough to power most basic laptop functions.

Unfortunately, the transition isn't all that smooth.

HP Envy x2

Price $999
Display size/resolution 12.3-inch 1,920x1,280 touch display
CPU 2.6GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 Mobile Processor
Memory 8GB 1866MHz LPDDR4x onboard
Graphics Adreno 540 710MHz
Storage 128GB SSD
Networking 802.11ac Wi-Fi; Bluetooth 4.1
Operating system Microsoft Windows 10 S/Pro

The HP Envy x2 is 12.3-inch tablet that doubles as a laptop thanks to an included keyboard case. It runs on Windows 10S, a modified version of Windows 10 that only allows you to use programs from Microsoft's app store, although it's easy to upgrade to the full-fledged Windows 10. The hook? Thanks to the Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor inside, which replaces the more traditional Intel CPUs found in most laptops, the Envy X2's battery can last up to 22 hours, at least according to HP. Plus, it has always-on LTE connectivity.

The catch? With a starting price of $999 (£999, AU$1,999), it's noticeably slower than similarly priced laptops. It can do all the tasks a regular productivity laptop can, but you'll notice more lag than you'd like. Also, note that you'll also have to pay your service provider separately for that always-on LTE connection.

Bells and whistles worth envy

The laptop's underperformance is a bummer, because there's a lot to like here.

For one, it's a snazzy-looking device. The tablet itself, while rather big at 12.3 inches, is slick, and its 1,920x1,080-pixel display is bright and beautiful. The front bezel is a deep black with just the right amount of gloss, while the sides and back are professional-but-not-boring silver.

The leathery keyboard case is similarly regal, and feels more substantial than others like it. I was pleasantly surprised by how pleasant the keyboard is to use. The trackpad, meanwhile, is far from bad, but you're going to want a mouse for long sessions. And, of course, the keyboard cover is included, while Microsoft's Surface Pro line makes you buy it separately.

It comes with HP's Digital Pen, which, equipped with a pressure-sensitive tip, mimics the feeling of pen to paper. It's nifty, as it lets you use the tablet's touchscreen without smudging it up with your finger, though it's an accessory that only auteurs will reap meaningful benefit from.

Ian Knighton/CNET

The base model comes with 128GB of storage, though there's also a configuration with double that. All models support Hello Windows, which lets you unlock the computer with your face. There's a 5-megapixel front camera, and a 13-megapixel rear shooter.

What it doesn't have, however, is ports. There's no HDMI or even traditional USB port, just USB-C -- and there's only one of them. This isn't unusual in tablet-land, but the chief concern the Envy x2 is designed to assuage is battery life, and people who need all-day battery life tend to use their laptops for productivity purposes. Those people, I would hazard to say, would be disappointed by the lack of ports.

And yes, Apple exclusively offers USB-C ports in its new MacBook Pro lines, but Apple's gonna Apple. 

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