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HP's Split x2 doubles up on storage and battery

With an SSD in its detachable tablet and a HDD in the keyboard base, HP's Split x2 has fewer compromises than other hybrids.

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Dan Ackerman
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Dan Ackerman

Editorial Director / Computers and Gaming

Dan Ackerman leads CNET's coverage of computers and gaming hardware. A New York native and former radio DJ, he's also a semi-regular TV talking head and the author of "The Tetris Effect" (Hachette/PublicAffairs), a non-fiction gaming and business history book that has earned rave reviews from the New York Times, Fortune, LA Review of Books, and many other publications. "Upends the standard Silicon Valley, Steve Jobs/Mark Zuckerberg technology-creation myth... the story shines." -- The New York Times

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HP's Envy x2 was one of the most buzzed-about of the first-generation laptop/tablet hybrids. Amid a flood of Windows 8 launch systems with sliding and twisting screens, the Envy x2 looked and worked much like a normal laptop, until you popped its screen off as a standalone Windows 8 slate.

But, the original x2 was trapped in a small 11-inch body, with an underpowered Intel Atom processor -- kind of like a tablet mixed with an old netbook laptop, and not suitable for all-day, every day work as your main PC.

The latest version, called the Split x2, is a bold reworking, moving more firmly into the laptop category, with a thin, 13-inch body and hardware closer to what you'd find in a full-time laptop.

I got a chance to get my hands on a nonfunctioning demo unit of the Split x2, and it certainly looked and felt a lot more like a standard laptop than nearly any other hybrid I've tried, similar to Lenovo's Yoga 13, another hybrid that scored by not compromising the laptop form. The matte-black body also brings to mind the classic black polycarbonate MacBook, although the x2 is thinner and lighter, with edge-to-edge glass over a touch screen.

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More importantly, the Split x2 uses a current-gen Intel Core i-series processor, rather than the Atom chip found in the original Envy x2. That makes it essentially the same as any other 13-inch ultrabook-style laptop, and should be fine for all-day Web surfing, e-mail, productivity, and media playback.

The CPU is in the tablet-like top half of the system, along with the RAM, battery, and SSD storage (presumably 128GB). However, the keyboard base unit is capable of not only having a second battery (common enough in hybrids), but also a larger platter hard drive. That way, you could use the SSD in the lid for programs and frequently used files, but keep, for example, a 500GB HDD in the base for your archives of movies and music.

The HP Split x2 is still a ways off. HP says it will be available in August, starting at $799. A similar Android hybrid, called the Slatebook x2, will also b available at the same time, starting at $479.

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