As with rival 11.6in detachable convertibles in the sub-£1,000 range, the HP Envy x2 has an Intel ‘Clover Trail’ 1.8GHz dual core Atom Z2760 beating at its heart. It’s backed by 2GB of RAM and there’s 64GB for storage.
With around 9GB eaten by Windows 8 and essentials, about 30GB is left to play with after making allowances for page file, hibernate and recovery. That’s not a huge amount, but do keep in mind that – unlike the iPad 4 or Google’s Nexus tablets, you can store media on a microSD card of up to another 64GB.
Unfortunately, as soon as we start talking performance we’re confronted by the fact that Clover Trail is still Atom, and Atom is still not in any way, shape or form a performance chip – and that 2GB RAM maximum doesn’t help here either.
Here the Core i3 machine's hard drive holds it back from trouncing the Atom system more thoroughly.
Don’t get us wrong, for navigating through Windows and average daily use such as browsing the web and running apps or light programs, the Z2760 in the HP Envy x2 runs smooth as butter. Performance is consistently superior to that in the netbooks of yore, especially when it comes to HD video playback and light multi-tasking, and most non 3D-gaming apps you’ll find in the Windows store should run without a hitch.
However, proper multi-tasking; running intensive HD video simultaneously with another program; or using demanding programs like an image editor can still quite easily bring this kind of machine to its knees. In other words, as a tablet the x2 performs admirably, but as a laptop replacement you have to be prepared to put up with its limitations.
3D gaming in anything but the most casual titles, meanwhile, is also a big no-no. Even at minimum settings our test games simply refused to run or crashed after getting through the menus. Mind you, this is not surprising given that Intel’s integrated GMA 3600 chip paired with the Atom Z2760 is derived from an old PowerVR design the benefits of which Windows drivers don’t fully bring out. Hopefully updated drivers will eek out more performance.
The advantages you’re getting in exchange for the trade-off in power are passive (i.e. silent) cooling, light weight and of course jolly impressive battery life. HP claims up to 14 hours for its convertible tablet when combined with the dock, and this is almost exactly what the HP Envy x2 achieved in our light productivity test which includes some web browsing. The tablet on its own managed just under half that, at 6 hours and 55 minutes. This is what you’d expect given that the keyboard base adds a second battery of a similar capacity.
Battery (40 percent screen brightness, mixed productivity and web-browsing)
6 hours 55 minutes (tablet only)
14 hours 4 minutes (tablet plus dock)
While these figures are very impressive in their own right, the Asus Vivo Tab managed a whopping 19 hours, or just under 10 for the tablet on its own. Remember, both these convertibles share the same 11.6-inch size, and the Asus has to power a Wacom digitizer layer and a brighter 600nits screen.
There’s no nice way to put this: at £800 the HP Envy x2 is simply overpriced – especially as both the Vivo Tab and Samsung Ativ Smart PC can be had for around £700. Both these convertible tablet/laptops offer the same specs, better connectivity (although they do lack full-size SD card readers), and bundled pressure-sensitive Wacom pens. The Asus also gives far superior battery life and a brighter screen. The Envy may be better-built, but considering its lesser feature-count, that hardly justifies the extra £100 it demands from your wallet.
The HP Envy x2 is a beautifully built Windows 8 convertible tablet/laptop. As long as you don’t stress its Atom processor it’s generally a pleasure to use and sounds great. Unfortunately similarly specced rivals offer better wireless and physical connectivity, bundled Wacom styli, and longer battery life, all for £100 less. In other words, unless you really want the x2’s premium looks, its full-size SD card slot or its decent speakers, there’s little to envy here.