Similarly to nearly every other 11.6-inch Windows convertible running Atom, the Envy x2 sports an IPS screen with a 1,366 x 768 resolution. Naturally this isn’t up to the ‘Retina-like’ resolutions of the Apple iPad 4, Google Nexus 10 and Microsoft Surface Pro - but keep in mind that until recently this was the standard amount of pixels on far larger displays, and on one this size, it’s adequate.
If you want to move up to Full HD, you’ll have to gun for one of the higher-end convertibles like the Samsung Ativ Smart PC Pro, which will also have the grunt to drive it.
All the usual perks of a quality IPS panel are present here: superb viewing angles, smooth gradients, reasonably accurate colours, and excellent dark detailing letting you see even the subtlest grey shades. It’s also reasonably bright at 400nits.
Our only niggle is some backlight bleed from the right bezel, but thankfully in daily use you should only notice this during dark scenes in movies or games.
Unlike many more expensive Windows 8 Core-i tablets which only support five-finger touch (like the Lenovo ThinkPad Twist S230U), the HP Envy x2’s screen will take input from up to 10 fingers simultaneously. It responded beautifully to even the lightest touch or swipe, making Windows 8’s Modern UI (we can’t call it Metro anymore) a pleasure to navigate and great for multiplayer tablet gaming.
There are plenty of scenarios where touch comes in handy even in ‘laptop’ mode, as it’s much nicer for complex selections in imaging software, certain gaming situations (point and click adventures particularly spring to mind, as the Atom processor should have little trouble running these), and for Draw Something.
If your digits are too clumsy, HP also offers an optional pressure-sensitive stylus for handwriting – or at least, the website claims it does. Unfortunately, it’s not a Wacom model, and HP’s reluctance to put a brand on it suggests it’s not even N-Trig. Rather, we suspect it’s Atmel, which only offers 256 pressure levels compared to Wacom’s 1,024. Either way it doesn’t really matter, as you can’t get the optional stylus for love or money weeks after the product’s release. All HP gave us was a vague indication of availability early this year.
HP definitely deserves some kudos for its speaker implementation. The front-facing stereo speakers are subtly integrated into the bottom bezel so that you won’t even spot them unless you know they’re there.
They also sound pretty great, considering they’re housed in a super-slim tablet. That’s not to say you won’t get far better sound from the average pair of headphones though, as they still distort at their maximum and bass is a little lacking. But the Envy x2 certainly joins the tablet elite on the audio front.