Gives Surface Pro, Pixel Slate, iPad Pro a run for their money
- Outstanding build quality
- A lovely aesthetic that really stands out
- Great performance
- Excellent keyboard base makes for a compelling clamshell
- Very good battery life
- Screen is a little wobbly in laptop mode
- A bit heavy to hold when attached to keyboard
- No backlit keyboard
The Surface Go is getting a lot of attention, but the HP Chromebook x2 ($599) is better than Microsoft’s cute 2-in-1 in three key ways. You get a bigger 12.3-inch screen, an in-lap typing experience and longer battery life. Unfortunately, the Chromebook x2’s performance leaves something to be desired, its bezels are on the thick side and it’s heavier than the competition. Still, HP has innovated in the Chromebook world with this fantastic detachable laptop.
The HP Chromebook x2 is a white, anodized aluminum tablet that attaches to a rubber, leather-textured keyboard, and snaps in both as a laptop, and in reverse as a tablet. While I appreciate the tablet’s unique colorway and its chrome HP logo, I’ve noticed small scratches have appeared on it over the last few weeks, as I moved the x2 out of a desk drawer that contained other laptops.
Watching YouTube videos on the Chromebook x2, I caught myself wanting a larger screen, or more specifically, thinner bezels. That’s the current trend from other manufacturers, and one that the next Google Pixelbook looks like it will adopt.
As I used the Chromebook x2 in my lap, I found it pleasant for typing, and preferable to the Surface Go, which requires you balance the kickstand on its back against your legs. The one trade-off, though, is that the x2’s display wobbles a little bit, as it’s heavier than the keyboard, and rests all its weight in that connection.
At 3.2 pounds and 0.6 inches thick (when docked), the Chromebook x2 is heavier and thicker than the Microsoft Surface Go (1.15 pounds, 0.3 inches) and the Google Pixelbook (2.5 pounds. 0.4 inches), and heavier than the Samsung Chromebook Pro (2.4 pounds, 0.6 inches).
The Chromebook x2’s dual USB Type-C ports are split between its left and right sides, and its SD memory card is on the left, while the headphone jack is on the right.
The keyboard and tablet dock with two big rubber connectors and a proprietary port.
As I watched the Captain Marvel trailer on the HP Chromebook x2, I admired its 2400 x 1600-pixel panel. Colors looked great on the x2’s display, from the jade of Captain Marvel’s uniform to the rich, inky black of a dark corridor she walked through. Details — such as the spotted pattern on the underwater masks — also came through clearly.
The Chromebook x2’s screen produces a solid 114 percent of the sRGB spectrum, which beats the 89 percent category average, but trails the 129 percent mark from the Surface Go and is slightly behind the Pixelbook (117 percent) and the Chromebook Pro (118 percent).
Colors looked great on the x2’s display, from the jade of Captain Marvel’s uniform to the rich, inky black of a dark corridor she walked through.
The Chromebook x2 is on the brighter side of the laptops we’ve tested, emitting up to 403 nits, a rating that towers over the 246-nit mainstream laptop average and beats the 376-nit Chromebook Pro. The Surface Go (415 nits) and Google Pixelbook (421 nits) get even brighter. This allows for wide viewing angles with color retaining at 70 degrees to the left and right. However, its glossy screen means that light bouncing off the display may obscure your content.
MORE: Screen Guide
The touch screen on the Chromebook x2 offers accurate and responsive input tracking. Not only did Chrome react speedily to my taps and scrolls, but the app drawer on the bottom of the screen moved up and down quickly as I flicked open and close.
Keyboard, Touchpad, Active Pen
Despite the keys having a shallow 0.63 millimeters of travel, the HP Chromebook x2 offers a solid, comfortable typing experience. Testing it on the 10fastfingers.com typing test, I hit a rate of 77 words per minute on the Chromebook x2, both on a desk and in my lap, which is close to my 80 wpm average.
The x2’s 4.1 x 2.1-inch touchpad offered decent responsiveness. As I tapped and swiped around the desktop, I noted how it kept up with me for the most part, but there was a rare stutter here and there.
I found varying degrees of input speed when doodling with HP’s included Active Pen. In Google Keep, it kept up with even my fastest drawing, as I annotated a screenshot. The worst behavior came in Microsoft OneNote, running via Android emulation, where my flourishes stuttered. The Android-based Sketch app was somewhere in between, where it was usable, but could have been better.
The HP Chromebook x2 provides enough volume to fill a medium-size conference room. As I listened to “Colossus” by Idles on it, I noted how the drums sounded crisp, the bass guitars came out with the accurate amount of fuzz and the vocals emitted clearly. This lovely audio quality may be due to the x2’S B&O Play-branded audio from Bang & Olufsen.
Armed with an Intel Core m3-7Y30 CPU with 4GB of RAM, the Chromebook x2 packs a decent punch. I saw no lag after splitting the screen between a dozen Chrome tabs (including Giphy and Google Docs) and a 1080p YouTube video. Throughout the process, everything stayed smooth as I scrolled through GIFs and typed sentence after sentence.
On the Geekbench 4 general benchmark test, the Chromebook x2 notched a score of 6,637, which is less than the 8,988 category average, and is near the 7,927 from the Pixelbook (Core i5-7Y57 with 8GB of RAM). The Microsoft Surface Go (Intel Pentium Gold 4415Y with 4GB of RAM) posted an even-lower 3,749.
Armed with an Intel Core m3-7Y30 CPU with 4GB of RAM, the Chromebook x2 packs a decent punch.
On the WebGL graphics test, the Chromebook tied with the Pixelbook, with both laptops rendering 5,000 fish at up to 33 frames per second. Regarding gaming, the Asphalt 8 racing game ran smooth enough for play, but PUBG Mobile (which now runs on Intel-based Chromebooks!) had too much clipping for serious competition.
The HP Chromebook x2 offers very good battery life, outlasting the field.
The detachable lasted 8 hours and 50 minutes on the Laptop Mag Battery Test (web surfing at 150 nits), which beats the 6:50 from the Pixelbook, the 6:06 from the Surface Go and the 7:27 category average.
The 12.5-megapixel camera on the rear of the Chromebook x2 takes pretty decent photos, capturing a range of hues in a fern in our office.
The 4.9-megapixel selfie cam will do for Google Hangouts and Skype calls. However, I noticed there was a lack ofdetail in my hair and in the texture of my dress shirt.
The HP Chromebook x2 stayed fairly cool in our testing. After I streamed 15 minutes of HD video on the x2, our heat gun picked up temperatures of 75.5 to 76.5 degrees Fahrenheit on its keyboard and underside. Its tablet screen and back hit a high of 95 degrees, which is our threshold for comfortable use.
The recently released Chrome OS version 69 brings more of Google’s Material Design visual aesthetic to Chrome. Its most visible feature is the brighter Chrome browser, which has redesigned tabs. Chrome OS also gained a better password manager, as well as improvements to the search bar (which Google calls the Omnibox).
Price, availability and warranty: How much does the Chromebook x2 cost?
Holiday sale pricing at Best Buy has knocked the HP Chromebook x2 down to $499. That’s a savings of $100, as the model we tested (Core M processor with 4GB of RAM, the only configuration) normally costs $599.
HP includes a one-year limited hardware warranty (with online chat during that year), and 90 days of phone support. Check out how HP fared in our battle of the tech brands competition.
The Chromebook x2 includes its attachable keyboard and HP Active Pen, while the $999 Pixelbook doesn’t include its $99 Pixelbook Pen and the $499 Surface Go doesn’t include its $99 Surface Go Type Cover or its $99 Surface Pen.
I love the Chromebook x2’s bright, colorful display and its lengthy battery life, which combined, should make you take Chrome OS seriously. If only it were as light as its competitors, I’d recommend this laptop without a moment’s pause.
For a faster Core i5 processor and a lighter laptop, consider the $999 Google Pixelbook, though Google’s premium Chromebook is much pricier and doesn’t offer a tablet-only mode. So, if you’ve wanted a Chromebook that’s also a tablet, the HP Chromebook x2 is a fantastic option.