- Good battery life with power keyboard
- Ample performance for most tasks
- Attractive design and quality
- Business security features
- Intel WiGig technology
- Most ports in the power keyboard
- Power keyboard should allow tablet to tilt back further
The HP Elite x2 is a notebook-replacement tablet designed for business. Its Core M-5Y71 processor, 8GB of RAM and fast SSD provide plenty of performance for everyday applications. Business users will appreciate the extra security features including its biometric fingerprint reader. Our review unit was equipped with the optional power keyboard which has a built-in battery for extra runtime and an abundance of ports including full-size DisplayPort. At $1,629 as equipped, the Elite x2 is a good deal more expensive than many high-end Ultrabooks and one of the most expensive tablets on the market. We nonetheless found a great deal to like about the x2 and were able to send it off with a recommendation.
The Elite x2 is easy to mistake for a small notebook when the power keyboard is attached. Detaching the tablet portion is accomplished by pressing the silver button centered in the display hinge. We found the best way to do this was by holding the tablet from one side and lifting it straight up. Reattaching the tablet portion is a cinch as it clicks right in. The tablet and power keyboard are on the chunky side when connected at 0.82 inches thick and weighing a total of 3.63 pounds.
The Elite x2 tablet is impressively rigid with no sign of flex. It weighs 1.92 pounds by itself which is acceptable for a tablet and can be held one-handed for extended periods without causing fatigue. Unlike other detachable tablets we’ve used, we like the fact the side of the Elite x2 that docks to the power keyboard has smooth edges which give it a more natural feel. It’s quite comfortable to hold in both portrait and landscape orientations.
The silver backing is plastic although of good strength and thickness while the display side is glass. The display has a fiddled plastic edge which protects the glass in the event of a bump or drop. The display bezel is rather large but this works out favorably when using the Elite x2 in tablet mode as it’s a place for fingers to rest without contacting the display.
The upper part of the power keyboard is smooth aluminum. The keyboard is inset so that its keys rise up to the height of the surrounding edges. The bottom of the power keyboard has a rubberized silicone coating which helps prevent slippage if you’re using the Elite x2 in your lap. Like the tablet, its strength is also impressive with almost no perceptible flex. It weighs almost as much as the tablet portion at 1.71 pounds which would normally be a cause for complaint but this power keyboard contains a secondary battery and doubles as a port replicator. Our main complaint about the power keyboard is that it doesn’t allow the tablet to tilt back far enough. It goes back about 30 degrees past vertical but we were hoping for at least 45 as most notebooks are able to achieve.
The Elite x2 has a classy appearance that’s appropriate in a business environment. Its overly rounded corners are a bit consumer-like but work better than squared-off edges while in tablet mode.
Input and Output Ports
Although HP sells the Elite x2 as a tablet only, think twice before passing up on the power keyboard as it’s where nearly all of the port selection resides. Aside from the dongle connector, the only port on the tablet itself is the headphone/microphone combination port located on the bottom side where the tablet docks to the power keyboard.
A series of buttons are located on the back of the tablet including a power button, volume rocker and display orientation button. The power button requires intentional effort to slide which we never engaged accidentally although we did inadvertently hit the volume rocker a few times. One other feature on the tablet’s backside is a flap which is tricky to open unless you have strong nails; inside is a SIM card slot for the optional 4G functionality and a micro SD card slot for storage expansion.
The picture descriptions are left to right and describe the ports on the power keyboard.
Screen and Speakers
The Elite x2’s 11.6″ display is one of its best features. It has all but unlimited viewing angles thanks to IPS technology. The FHD resolution (1920×1080) is ideal and provides for a detailed image though some scaling is required to enlarge text for readability at this screen size. Saturation is good with lively colors. There’s moreover plenty of brightness for outdoor viewing though be careful of sun reflections off the glass surface. The touch functionality worked without issue in our testing.
A pair of speakers project out the Elite x2’s bottom edge. We were expecting a lot more from this setup considering HP put them behind a classy perforated grill. As it stands these speakers have adequate volume but a tinny and harsh sound signature without any bass which makes most listening unenjoyable.
Keyboard and Touchpad
The power keyboard includes comfortable full-size Chiclet-style keys. Certain keys are one-third sized such as the function row and the up and down arrows. Although some keys are set as secondary functions in the arrow keys like PgUp and PgDn in the up and down arrows, respectively, we were very pleasantly surprised to see the Home and End keys as their own keys in the upper right of the keyboard. The overall tactile experience is excellent with limited travel but a solid engagement and feel and no flex whatsoever. There are two levels of white backlighting which can be toggled by pressing the Fn and F11 keys.
The touchpad is HP’s ForcePad which has neither physical buttons nor a pressable surface. Clicking is accomplished by tapping the surface which we weren’t entirely sold on as there’s no physical feedback. There is however audible feedback via the tablet’s speakers. The ForcePad supports some unique gestures such as pressing harder to scroll faster. This setup is essentially the lesser of two evils as there clearly isn’t enough room to accommodate dedicated buttons.