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.
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