HP Pavilion x2 10-n003na Tablet/Laptop Hybrid First Impressions
Update: sadly I decided to return this little beauty to Amazon today because of reliability problems. In almost all ways it had proved to be excellent, albeit a little slow, but every couple of days the mouse, keyboard or both would stop working and it would need to be restarted. I have a very low tolerance for reliability issues so I decided to return it. I’m not sure whether I will be replacing it either, now that I have my iPhone 6S I might decide to travel with just that and my iPad, embracing travelling really light!
This little hybrid laptop/tablet arrived yesterday, it was pre-installed with Windows 8.1 but the first thing it did was offer to upgrade to Windows 10, which took it most of the evening. I really started to use it this morning and so far it’s blown me away. To provide some context for this review though lets start with the price from Amazon, £279 for the model with the 64GB SSD, which is definitely the model to get, but for that price you also get a year’s subscription to Office 365 personal. Since I already have a subscription to Office 365 home, I was pleasantly surprised to see that it automatically added 9 months to that subscription, which has a value of about £50, so the x2 really cost me £229. Now consider what you get for this:
- 64GB of storage
- Intel® Atom™ Z3736F with Intel HD Graphics
- IPS touch screen
- Detachable keyboard
- 7-10 hours of battery life, depending on who you believe, 7 is more likely if you like your screen bright
This might not sound like that great a deal at first sight, but a few features of the x2 really made me smile:
- Although it’s not in the spec sheet, the screen supports pen input with an active stylus. I happened to have an old Dell stylus and I just tried it out and it works really well. Palm detection works and it’s better than the Dell I used the stylus with originally. This is a huge plus for me and was the only feature that I thought I would miss by going for the x2 rather than a Microsoft Surface. Using Fresh Paint on it is a real joy!
- The keyboard is fantastic. I’m typing this blog post on it (of course) and to be honest it’s almost as nice an experience as the ThinkPad keyboard that I’m used to, even though a few of the keys are a little cramped, due to the size
- The screen is great, it’s only a 1280*800 resolution, but it’s bright with good viewing angles and to be honest I think Windows works best at this resolution on such a small screen. I’ve used the Surface Pro 3 for a while and everything is too small to my aging eyes, even with scaling enabled. My ThinkPad’s screen is a similar 1024*768 so I’m very happy.
- The x2 charges over USB type C, I’ve plugged it into my portable battery charger and it works just fine, which is an added bonus for those few days when I need to extend the battery life, for example a coach trip down to Amsterdam later in the month
- It supports Micro-SD cards and also has a full USB port. I’m going to be putting all of my DropBox onto a 128GB SD card and all of my TV shows, Music and Movies on a 64GB low profile USB stick. The result is a 64GB drive just for Windows 10 and 192GB for data, the equivalent of a 256GB SSD (albeit a little slower) but much more flexible
- I like to travel light so I now only need to take the x2 and it’s tiny charger with me, I can charge my phone and iPad from the x2’s powered USB port!
- It comes with Bluetooth, so it’s trivial to pair it with my phone for tethering
- With the keyboard attached the x2 is really stable and I’ve used it on my lap for hours this morning. The keyboard acts as a great little stand when I’m using the touch screen as well. Even better is the fact that the way the screen detaches from the keyboard is really slick and easy and it’s reversible, allowing the screen to fold back on the keyboard or for the keyboard just to be used as a stand, tacked away behind the screen, when watching movies for example.
- The tablet completely detaches from the keyboard as well of course, which is perfect for sketching or browsing the web
- Music sounds great from the two front facing speakers!
Functionality wise then it’s really amazing for the price, but what about performance? Well it’s an Atom processor with 2GB of memory, contrary to my expectation this seems just fine to me so far. Writing in Windows Live Writer, browsing the web in Chrome, playing music in the background using Amazon Music, watching TV shows in VLC all work smoothly. I’m currently watching YouTube in a floating window while writing this blog post with 6 apps running and 4 tabs open in Chrome and performance is great!
Are there any downsides at all? Well the touchpad isn’t as natural for me as the ThinkPad’s TrackPoint, but it’s serviceable, mostly because I find myself using the the touch screen a lot instead. The screen is glossy and not that great in sunlight or when there’s a lot of reflections about, the arrow keys and enter key on the keyboard take a little getting used to and it’s all plastic (which I don’t mind at all, it looks fine). I suspect performance will suffer if I’m synching lots of data in the background, doing batch updates to my books in Calibre or god forbid doing anything involving video editing, but that’s not what I’m looking for.
So how am I planning to use this little beauty? Well it’s going to be my travelling companion, it fits in my overnight backpack (where the water bladder would normally go) and it fits in my tiny day pack, which itself fits in my multi-day rucksack. It’s going to allow me to dramatically reduce all of the cables and chargers that I normally take with me and work as a sketchpad, laptop, media centre and tablet, although I’m still planning to take my iPad with me because the Windows apps are not comparable.
Windows 10 works pretty well on the x2, I found myself disabling the Continuum feature and Tablet Mode and I configured the start menu to work in full screen, but other than that everything worked well out of the box. Note that when using the Micro-SD card for data I set it to mount as a folder, so that it was seen as indexable by Windows. I will be describing how I set up the x2 in a later post.
Just one note of caution so far, I’ve lost the connection between the keyboard and tablet once, it just needed to be detached and re-attached to get it working again though, I’m also slightly concerned that the Micro-SD card is a little exposed and might pop out if knocked about in my bag.
Full disclosure, I did attach an external mouse while editing this post.
I’m writing this at my desk in my conservatory office at home, it’s sunny outside so I’m stopping now to go and do some gardening. The photo for this post is of Filey beach, my destination for next week and I will be testing out the x2 for real on that trip!