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HP Chromebook x2 review: A price cut away from great

HP Chromebook x2 review: A price cut away from great

 November 23, 2021 at 8:40 am   |     Author:   |     Technology  

HP Chromebook x2 11-inch two-in-one.
Enlarge / HP Chromebook x2 11-inch two-in-one.

For tech enthusiasts, Chromebooks can be an acquired taste. Advanced users don’t need a stripped-down operating system, and the low computing power generally disqualifies Chromebooks from being a serious, primary PC. But Chromebooks can often find a welcome spot in an enthusiast’s home as a secondary or (after the phone) tertiary device. And when that Chromebook comes in a detachable form factor with a screen that’s slightly larger than most competitors, it fits that role well.

The HP Chromebook x2 two-in-one makes a play for this space with an 11-inch display that offers more screen area than rivals like the 10.1-inch Lenovo Chromebook Duet, the 10.5-inch Microsoft Surface Go 3, or even similarly priced iPads. HP’s portable, bendable (and did we mention blue?) Chromebook is ripe for travel and less intensive tasks.

Specs at a glance: HP Chromebook x2
Worst Best As reviewed
Screen 11-inch 2160×1440 IPS touchscreen
OS Chrome OS
CPU Qualcomm Snapdragon 7c Compute Platform
RAM 4GB LPDDR4x-2133 8GB LPDDR4x-2133
Storage 64GB eMMC 128GB eMMC 64GB eMMC
GPU Qualcomm Adreno 618 (integrated)
Networking Qualcomm Atheros 802.11a/b/g/n/ac (2×2) Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5
Ports 2x USB 3.1 Gen 1 (Type-C), 1x microSD card reader
Size 9.9×7×0.3 inches (252.5×176.8×7.6 mm)
Weight With keyboard and kickstand: 1.2 lb; Tablet only: 1 lb
Battery 32 Wh
Warranty 1 year
Price (MSRP) $570 $680 $600
Other perks HP Rechargeable USI Pen 4G LTE HP Rechargeable USI Pen

Despite an MSRP of $600-$680, depending on the configuration, I’ve seen the HP Chromebook x2 at more appropriate sale prices of $370, $400, or $480. Considering its level of power, its touchpad that demands a hard surface, and a keyboard cover that feels like a temporary solution, you’ll want to wait for that discount.

A little color never hurt anyone

I appreciate a piece of tech that’s not afraid to show some color. Those who like a typical-looking computer can get the Chromebook x2 in Shade Gray. But for those craving more flavor, there’s Night Teal.

The computer itself is silver (with thick black borders) regardless; HP isn’t that bold. What Night Teal gets you is a detachable keyboard and back cover/kickstand in an exciting ocean-like shade of blue. That blue makes the white font on the keyboard pop and is just dark enough not to look childish—a fine line to walk for any Chromebook.

Powerful magnets secure the back cover to the tablet and help guide the keyboard into place with five-point pogo pins. Attachments required minimal work; the magnets just pull everything right into place.

On its own, the back cover is thin but hard. It didn’t give when I tried bending it, except with firm movements at the designated metal hinge. I still felt secure with the Chromebook angled back at the maximum 170 degrees, allowing me to type in my most aggressive fashion or mark away at the screen with the stylus.

The blue option is much more fun than the gray one.
Enlarge / The blue option is much more fun than the gray one.

Scharon Harding

Thin, detachable keyboards like this aren’t long-term solutions for hardcore typists, but I was happy with how readily the system connects to the keyboard. It reliably woke from sleep when opened and closed, just like a true clamshell. However, every now and then, the on-screen keyboard would fail to show up when I needed it (logging out or restarting always fixed that issue, though). This could be a fault of Chrome OS, but it’s still a potential downside to opting for a detachable.

The two accessories are coated in polyurethane, with a nice, mildly textured finish. The system itself has the reflective HP logo on the back, kept company by a Chromebook logo and a camera bump.

The detachable weighs one pound without its attachments.
Enlarge / The detachable weighs one pound without its attachments.

Scharon Harding

With the kickstand on, the only visible branding comes from the Bang & Olufsen stamp on the left-side trim. Two USB-C ports at 5Gbps and a microSD card reader also live there, separated by a volume rocker. At first, I thought it was odd for a volume control to interrupt the flow of ports. But this turned out to be a smart layout because I ended up using the USB-C ports and volume rocker the most. The USB-C ports are about as good as it gets for Chromebooks, offering USB Power Delivery and DisplayPort 1.2, so you can connect a supporting monitor.

All ports are on the right side.
Enlarge / All ports are on the right side.

Scharon Harding

On the right side of the screen is a WWAN LTE slot. Opting for 4G LTE requires both payments to your service provider and the most expensive configuration of the Chromebook x2, which, for some reason, doesn’t come with a stylus (you can buy HP’s pen separately for $49). I wish you didn’t have to pick between 4G or a stylus.

The computer weighs one pound without the kickstand and keyboard and 1.2 pounds with them attached. Keep the kickstand and keyboard on during travel, because even with those parts, three sides of the computer’s edges are exposed. The machine is made out of one piece of CNC-milled aluminum and uses Gorilla Glass on the screen to fight scratches, so it’s not cheaply finished, but it is possible for the power button to get accidentally pressed or for the stylus to be pushed off the side of the screen.

An 11-inch screen provides a bigger playground than the 10.1-inch Lenovo Chromebook Duet or the 10.5-inch Surface Go 3. Yet it doesn’t make for a heavier system. If you’re using the keyboard, the x2 is lighter than the Chromebook Duet (2 pounds). If you’re not, HP’s device weighs the same as the Lenovo and a hair lighter than the Surface Go 3 (1.2 pounds).

The bigger screen does mean a bigger system, but not by much. HP’s Chromebook is 9.9×7×0.3 inches, Lenovo’s Chromebook Duet is 9.6×6.3×0.3 inches, and Microsoft’s Surface Go 3 is 9.7×6.9×0.3 inches.

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