HP takes on Microsoft's Surface Book with its new detachable Chromebook with a stylus.
HP today announced the launch of a new Chromebook, the HP Chromebook x2. While this looks to provide a generic Chrome OS experience, it does so through a premium approach in every sense of the word. In fact, this seems to be one of the major selling points with the Chromebook x2 as HP wants this to be viewed as an ultra-premium hardware option available at an affordable price.
Design and hardware
The most noteworthy aspect of the Chromebook x2 is that it is a 2-in-1 type of device. More specifically, it is a detachable Chromebook and so users are not only able to adjust the form of the Chromebook for use in a 'tablet mode' but the actual keyboard can be detached at any point to provide a true tablet experience. An aspect which effectively makes this Chromebook more comparable to the Surface line of products by Microsoft. Further adding to its premium design, and also drawing more parallels with the likes of a Surface Book, HP is also throwing in a Wacom stylus with the Chromebook x2. The two aspects combined together easily make the Chromebook x2 one of the most versatile Chrome OS devices currently on the market. The premium aspect of the design is not just reserved to the main components either as HP is also promoting the smaller and more accent-like premium design cues that are in effect. For example, the Chromebook x2 makes use of a metal unibody design along with an AED coating which further adds to the Chromebook's durability and scratch-resistance, while also adding a ceramic-like look and feel to the device. In addition, the keyboard has also been outfitted with a leather palmrest for increased comfort, and the hinge connecting the two components (keyboard and display) is of the magnetic variety. This last point should mean detaching and attaching the two is very quick and simple to do.
With this being a product that can be used in multiple forms including in a true tablet mode HP is making a big play in terms of the display and drawing on the screen properties as further evidence of the product's premium placement. As a result, the Chromebook x2 features a 12.3-inch display making it larger than the majority of small Chromebooks but still compact enough to justify its use as a viable 2-in-1 machine. The resolution comes in at 2400 x 1600 which also represents a step-up compared to a number of traditional Chromebooks while the PPI is listed as 235. This is a "ultra-bright" display which draws on IPS technology and is protected from daily use by the inclusion of Corning Gorilla Glass.
The Chromebook x2 is going to be available in multiple variants although they are designed to start at a minimum level ensuring the continuation of its premium stance. For example, the baseline version will feature 4GB RAM with the option for buyers to increase the RAM up to 8GB. Storage is set at 32GB across the models and with this being a new Chromebook it will come with the added Chrome OS benefit of access to two year's worth of 100GB Google Drive storage for free. This is in addition to the inclusion of a microSD card slot which offers the option to expand the storage by a further 256GB. The processor in use will be a 7th Gen Intel Core m3-7Y30 although this may vary a little across the different options. As for battery life, HP states the included 48-watt battery will offer up to 10.5 hours of power off a single charge, while connectivity is further bolstered by the inclusion of two USB Type-C ports.
Generally speaking, cameras are not the most common or touted aspect associated with a Chromebook. Although, once again, with HP positioning this as a premium model, and especially when considering this is also positioned as a viable tablet, the Chromebook x2 does come with a heightened camera experience compared to similar products. The front-facing option designed primarily for selfies and video calling is a 5-megapixel camera with WideVision support, and the rear-positioned camera (for outward video capturing) will be available courtesy of a 13-megapixel camera.
As this is a premium device, and one which places some of its focus on its entertainment features (such as a heightened display size and resolution) HP has equipped the Chromebook x2 with audio features to complete the experience. This includes front-facing speakers which the company states have been fine-tuned by Bang & Olufsen through B&O Play for a more custom sound. In addition, the audio experience also draws on HP's own Audio Boost technology along with a built-in amplifier to ensure the sound output is as loud, as rich and as bass-focused as it can be. For those more inclined to use a Chrome OS device with a set of headphones, the Chromebook x2 does provide a 3.5 mm jack port for wired connections, as well as Bluetooth 4.2 for wireless connections.
Android app support
HP states it is fully aware of how important Android app support has now become to those considering picking up a new Chromebook and as a result, the Chromebook x2 will arrive with Google Play Store and Android app support from launch. In addition, this is one of the added reasons the stylus has been included (as well as improved touch sensitivity in general) with users able to make the most of all stylus-enabled features available through Android, as well as Chrome OS. To add to that, HP has looked to ensure the Chromebook x2 experience is as akin to an Android tablet experience as possible by loading the device with many of the sensors often found on a tablet, including an accelerometer (doubles as a gyroscope), and ambient light sensor, hall sensor, and a compass.
Availability and pricing
HP has not stated full and detailed information on pricing as the Chromebook x2 will be available in multiple variations with the price rising depending on the configuration chosen, and will likely vary depending on the region. However, the company has confirmed the baseline model (with 4GB RAM) will start at $599.99 in the US. This price is inclusive of the keyboard and the stylus, which as a package is where HP expects the real value to be seen by consumers and especially when compared to similar 'complete packages' from other manufacturers, including Apple, Google, and Microsoft. Likewise, HP has yet to announce the exact date the Chromebook x2 will be available, although the company did confirm its new detachable Chrome OS solution will begin to hit shelves online and in-store from June of this year.