GADGET WATCH: HP Envy x2

One of the biggest trends over the past year has been the release of hybrid laptops. These are laptops which detach from the screen to become a fully functional tablet.

Microsoft has been pushing this trend as a key way to show off its Windows 8 software, which runs in both a traditional desktop environment and, ideally, on tablets as well. These hybrids, in theory, get the best of both worlds.

So does the HP Envy live up to its promise in delivering two outstanding experiences?

Hardware and features

The HP Envy is powered by a 1.8Ghz dual-core Intel processor, running on Windows 8. The device itself is 8.12-inches high, and between 0.66- and 0.7-inches thick. The screen is 11.6-inches wide, and features a 1366×768 resolution.

Storage-wise, the device comes with a 64GB SSD hard drive, while also features two cameras – one capable of recording 1080p quality video, and a rear camera with an eight megapixel lens.

The laptop also features an SD card slot, two USB 2.0 slots, and an HDMI port along with Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and NFC.

What’s the consensus?

Over at The Verge, the publication noted that when the device is closed, it actually looks a lot like the Apple MacBook Air – strikingly so.

“But frankly, there are worse laptop designs to copy, and the x2 is a very good-looking device even if it’s not the most original one. It’s well made, with no flexing or creaking, and it definitely feels like a premium device,” it said.

The publication also said the button and port locations are all good, despite the volume controls being a little hard to find. It also took some issue with there being two separate headphone jacks on both the laptop, and the screen in tablet mode.

Over at Engadget, the publication said connecting the keyboard to the tablet feels good and secure, noting that it won’t fall out of place unless you pull the specialised latch.

However, it did have some bad things to say about the keyboard, saying the keys were mushy and didn’t give satisfying feedback.

“On a typing test we notched a lower wpm score – and a higher error rate – than we typically muster. We wouldn’t classify this keyboard as horrible, but it’s less comfortable than its looks would suggest.”

It also said the touchpad was too sensitive, and ran into several mistakes as a result.

But Engadget approved of the gadget’s screen, noting the clear picture despite a lower pixel count.

“We were able to view content on-screen when we moved to the far right and left, but tipping the panel forward more than a bit causes images to wash out. This issue aside, though, colours look accurate, and text is crisp.”

At CNet, the publication put the dedicated tablet to the test. IT had good things to say, especially with the device’s own volume controls. “It’s comfortable to hold and a little larger than a Retina Display iPad, but still a well-designed tablet,” it said.

But what about performance? At Laptopmag.com, the site said the screen was perhaps a little too wide to use the on-screen keyboard. That the device doesn’t support a stylus could be a problem for some users.

It also said the performance was good, although struggled with some processor intensive tasks. It also noted the device couldn’t run intensive graphics programs.

Battery life ran for about six hours and 52 minutes, half an hour under the average for its category, the publication said.

Who’s it for?

The HP Envy is one of many laptop-tablet hybrids, but it’s certainly not at the top of the pack. It’s a fine device and built well, and the sub-$1,000 price point is a good attraction. But given the slow performance, and the mediocre battery life, customers shopping for a hybrid device are better off looking elsewhere.

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