IT had been rather surprising that the Windows 10 2-in-1 market did not have a lot of competition to the Microsoft Surface Pro 4 for a long time. The regular suspects like Dell, Lenovo and HP have been slow to roll out their competing devices. That has started to change in the recent months.
From HP, we finally have the Elite x2 1012 G1, a 2-in-1 that competes directly against Microsoft's Surface Pro 4.
The Elite x2 measures 11.8x8.4x0.3 inches. Adding the keyboard increases the thickness to 0.6 inches and the weight tips the scales at 1.18 kilograms. This makes it slightly heavier than the Surface Pro 4. Unlike the Microsoft tablet, the keyboard is included in the original price - a very wise decision.
HP goes to great lengths to emphasise the durability of the new Elite X2. The company claims that the Elite x2 can withstand a drop onto a wooden floor from the height of over a foot. While that might be true, the same ruggedness does not extend to the magnets attaching the tablet to the keyboard. It feels slightly less powerful than it should be.
But the keyboard itself feels better than the one that comes with the Surface Pro 4. Decked out with LEDs, the keyboard has aluminium fringes. Although not quite as comfortable as the larger keyboards that come with most laptops, it is still sufficient for long usage in the office. The touchpad is also extremely responsive.
The kickstand is also different from the one in Microsoft's convertible. HP has opted for an aluminium frame with a hollow middle instead of a full metal piece. The overall impression is that the Elite x2 is a rugged device that will withstand some abuse.
But there is one major niggle. The stylus included with the Elite x2 does not have its own slot in either the tablet or keyboard. Instead, it has to be manually attached to the edge of the tablet using a twine, like a naughty pet dog. If you are putting the 2-in-1 in a bag, the stylus will need to be untied or you risk scratching the display or sides.
The Elite x2 features a 1920x1080 12-inch screen. Like premium smartphones, it is protected by Corning's Gorilla Glass 4. While the display itself is good, it cannot be termed as exceptional. The Surface Pro 4 display has a higher resolution and is slightly brighter. Also, compared to the Surface Pro 4 or even the older iPads, the default colours are slightly muted. But touch responsiveness is excellent.
Our test version of the Elite x2 comes with the Intel Core m5 integrated CPU running at 1.1GHz. Slightly less powerful than the top-of-the-line Core i5 and i7 CPUs, it also consumes less power.
The tablet also has 8GB of memory and 256GB of storage. The storage can be further expanded by another 200GB using a microSD card. The Elite x2 also has a full-sized USB 3.0 port and a smaller USB Type-C connector which also supports Intel's Thunderbolt technology. A pair of stereo speakers from Bang & Olufsen takes care of the audio output.
Compared to smartphones these days, the cameras are a bit underwhelming. The rear camera has a five megapixel resolution while the front camera for video conferencing is just two megapixels.
As expected, the Elite x2 is slower than the Microsoft Surface Pro 4 which has the advantage of the faster Core i5 and Core i7 processors. Also, rather strangely, while trying our Unigine benchmarks, the touch screen refused to work.
Although slower than the more expensive Microsoft device, the Elite x2 has absolutely no problem running regular office applications. Since the tablet has 8GB of RAM, playing a few casual games from the Windows Store is also not out of the question.
HP claims a battery life of over 10 hours in its marketing literature for the Elite x2. With screen brightness set to maximum, we found that it is closer to seven hours if you combine office work and some video entertainment. That also does not set any new records.
The audio output is among the best we have heard from a tablet. Although crisp and loud, without a dedicated subwoofer, it is lacking in bass.
It is obvious that HP has a clear target market for the Elite x2 - the office user. While the Microsoft Surface Pro 4 has better performance and is still the 'Ferrari' of Windows 2-in-1s, it is also considerably more expensive. With a price of a little more than RM5,000, the Elite x2 does very well in the price to performance column. If you are in the market for a new Windows 10 2-in-1 and do not wish to break the bank, the HP Elite x2 is a very good choice.
Rating: 4 out of 5
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