HP, finally, has a good answer to the iPad

Hewlett-Packard has come up with slick design that -- perish the thought -- could give the iPad a jolt.

Brooke Crothers Former CNET contributor
Brooke Crothers writes about mobile computer systems, including laptops, tablets, smartphones: how they define the computing experience and the hardware that makes them tick. He has served as an editor at large at CNET News and a contributing reporter to The New York Times' Bits and Technology sections. His interest in things small began when living in Tokyo in a very small apartment for a very long time.
Brooke Crothers
2 min read
HP Envy x2.
HP Envy x2. Hewlett-Packard

Could Hewlett-Packard trump the iPad?

With Windows 8 general release due on October 26, it's a good opportunity to take a look at the competition coming down the pike.

In this case, from Apple's Silicon Valley neighbor, HP.

It took way too long -- Apple announced the iPad in 2010 -- but HP now has a real iPad alternative -- the Envy x2.

Or, put another way, should I think about swapping my iPad for the x2?

Personal musings aside, HP has a different design philosophy from Apple -- so it's not simply a question (for me at least) of which device is better spec for spec.

For example, the iPad's 9.7-inch Retina 2,048-by-1,536-pixel display is the clear winner in raw specs and image quality. But HP's 11.6-inch IPS 1,366x768 display (no display quality slouch, according to CNET Reviews) has been conceived as more than just a pretty touch display.

The x2's screen is an integral part of an organic whole: designed to be a laptop when that's needed and standalone tablet when that's called for.

And it's clear HP wanted to make sure the mechanism (see video below) for docking and undocking the display would pass muster with fastidious corporate customers as well as finicky consumers. In other words, it's not a third-party dock: the docking connectors (including magnets) are built into the screen.

And the keyboard dock also packs an extra battery to extend battery life.

HP also appears to have made sure it's well-made. No flimsy plastic screen bezels here.

Inside the device -- i.e., the electronics embedded behind the screen -- is an Intel Clover Trail system-on-a-chip, which runs Windows 8 just fine, according to early reviews.