HP TECH TAKES
Exploring today's technology for tomorrow's possibilities
HP Chromebook x2: A Complete Review
December 29, 2018
If you already know a bit about web browsers, chances are you’re quite familiar with Google’s popular Chrome browser - and may even be using it to read this article. Built out of Google’s most basic functions with an uncluttered homepage designed to mirror the company’s primary focus on search, Chrome has become the go-to browser for most users .
But you may not be quite as familiar with the company’s line of laptops built in collaboration with HP. Since 2013, the two have teamed up for the HP Chromebook, which has gone through different iterations, including the popular HP Chromebook x2. In this review, we’ll break down exactly what an HP Chromebook is and dig more into the HP Chromebook x2 series to reveal what makes it one of the most distinctive laptops available.
The basics of the HP Chromebook and Chrome OS
For many years, personal computers have slowly but surely been shifting toward technology better adapted for web applications. And as this tech develops and its potential becomes more realized, some truly impressive devices are being designed.
The HP Chromebook is a great example of this tech. A collaboration between HP® and Google, it incorporates some of the financial and technical benefits made available by off-site, cloud-based computing.
The “cloud” is no doubt a familiar term, as many of us interact with it many times each day through various intermediaries like Dropbox, Amazon Web Services, and Google Drive. The cloud is at the heart of the HP Chromebook and it’s this tech that helps make it a stronger value for the consumer.
This device offers a robust PC experience that’s optimized for the web, with a streamlined OS that reduces the strain put on the computer’s memory and battery power. Let’s change focus now to operating systems and talk more in detail about the Chrome OS, how it works, and how it can add value to your experience.
How Google’s Linux-based Chrome OS works
As described above, the Chrome OS is an outgrowth of Google’s popular Chrome browser. Now only a couple years shy of its first decade of service, the web-optimized OS helps shift processing stress away from your laptop through its focus on web applications.
You’ll find integrated media and filing systems, just like with a regular OS, in addition to support for Chrome apps and full access to the Google Play Store’s library of apps so you can flesh out capacity and functionality. For Android users, the HP Chromebook is also a great opportunity for easy integration with your smartphone because it also supports Android apps. There’s even an older freeware version you can download without an HP Chromebook, the Chromium OS, launched by Google in 2009.
Free up space with 2 years of free Google Drive access
One of the other primary ways HP® and its Chromebook line are able to offer a more efficient and affordable alternative to traditional laptops and operating systems is in the approach to storage. While HP Chromebook laptops feature their own onboard storage options, you’ll keep your device running smoothly thanks to Google Drive and the included 2 years of free access with your purchase.
Rather than having big files stored directly on your device, you can use Google Drive to seamlessly interact with those files through the cloud. This saves your laptop some strain, reduces the potential for clutter, and keeps your system running smoothly.
The affordable and versatile HP Chromebook x2
Shifting focus specifically to the HP Chromebook x2, this detachable device model is undoubtedly one of the most distinctive variants on the design to date. Want something that’s easy to handle on the couch or easy to slip into your bag when you just need a powerful tablet PC? Built for flexibility and performance, the HP Chromebook x2 is designed for you.
On the surface, it features a smooth ceramic white cover and a dark oxford blue keyboard frame. Underneath the exterior finish, it’s designed from the ground up to adapt with you and your routine.
In particular, its design opens up users to a far greater variety of mixed-use scenarios than a standard laptop configuration. The detachable design will probably add the most value to situations when a traditional desk or workspace is either used less frequently, is not available, or simply is not desired.
On the couch or on-the-go, there are tons of situations where a full laptop configuration can feel unwieldy. They can even be riskier in terms of product safety, with more edges and angles to catch compared to a slim tablet.
This adaptability is the biggest advantage of a true detachable 2-in-1, although the HP Chromebook x2 can boast some simpler selling points. For one, it offers a surprisingly competitive entry price for a detachable HP Chromebook or any convertible client-based laptop design.
Now let’s move on technical specs and cover some of HP Chromebook x2’s hardware basics. Though most critical components should be recognizable, a detachable has some unique characteristics, and you should remember the configuration is designed for efficiency with robust cloud support.
Under the hood
At the center of your HP Chromebook x2, you’ll find a dual-core Intel® Core™ m3-7Y30 processor, offering a 1 GHz base frequency and up to 2.6 GHz with Intel Turbo Boost Technology. It also features integrated Intel HD Graphics 615 and 4GB of LPDDR3-1600 SDRAM to keep you moving. If you’re concerned about maintaining at least some local storage, you’ll be glad to know there’s 32GB of fast eMMC storage available.
Touch screen display with free HP stylus pen
If you prefer working with a wireless tablet or detached keyboard, you’ll no doubt depend on the HP Chromebook x2’s touch screen display.
The 12.3-inch diagonal 2K WLED display has a native resolution of 2400 x 1600 pixels and backlighting for extra comfort and convenience. It also ships with a free HP stylus pen to help make the touch interactions even smoother.
Switch from laptop to tablet with the easy-to-use magnetic hinge
The HP Chromebook x2 features a strong magnetic hinge that extends across the bottom rear of its display to help make opening and closing the device easier than ever.
And if you want to use it as a tablet, simply detach the display and keyboard by separating them from the hinged magnetic panel. There’s nothing else to it - just grab and go at your leisure.
The HP Chromebook x2’s balance of display space, keyboard, and layout mostly centers on overcoming the limitations of a smaller device. It has a practical configuration with a full keyboard for comfort despite the compact size in addition to a centrally located touchpad featuring multi-touch gesture support.
Depending on your routine, you may spend more time working via touch, but it always pays to have a comfortable and reliable setup in place for when you need it. This HP Chromebook also features a lighter keyboard that weighs in at just 1.45 lbs when you detach it from the display.
How is the audio quality?
Many laptop designs skimp on multimedia, and audio is often seen as an acceptable sacrifice for a lot of users. Whether you can connect your device to a suitable audio system or not, a laptop should still provide audio worthy of using.
With the HP Chromebook x2, you’ll find dual speakers with specialist tuning from the sound experts at Bang & Olufsen’s B&O PLAY imprint. That means you won’t make any sacrifices when you’re streaming movies or TV shows, and you’ll enjoy a clear listening experience when you switch over to music.
Portability and battery life
Most users wouldn’t appreciate the extra flexibility of a convertible or detachable PC if it wasn’t also portable and easy to use - if it isn’t convenient, why would you bother?
To support comfortable mixed use and the extra screen space from its 12.3-inch display, the HP Chromebook x2 boasts a lighter weight and trim measurements. In tablet mode, it weighs just 1.62 lbs. And when you use the traditional configuration with the display and keyboard attached, it’s only 3.07 lbs.
For battery life, the HP Chromebook x2 delivers a maximum charge of up to 12 hours and 30 minutes, which is more than enough for the average school or workday - and then some. To guarantee a fast charge and extra connectivity, it also features two USB 3.0 Type-C™ Gen 1 ports.
When to consider a detachable
While a new hybrid laptop configuration can be tempting, it can also be a daunting choice to make if you don’t understand the market or your needs. With many detachable designs, their drawbacks are tied to production limitations: small keyboards, bulky configurations, or exorbitant opening prices.
Otherwise, the advantages can be substantial, whether you’re a student, professional, creative, or any combination of those. Anyone who prefers a relatively flexible work routine or values the opportunity for a more mobile work or creative setup, a detachable could be a great fit for you.
If you’ve been considering adding a tablet to your tech collection, a 2-in-1 could save you some of the extra space and expense of owning two separate devices. As far as space and clutter concerns go, that’s the primary advantage of folding both devices into a single configuration - lighter than most laptops, but way more powerful than your average tablet.
The advantage over hinged 2-in-1 laptop designs
The primary gains from choosing a detachable over a hinged convertible laptop or 2-in-1 model are clear. You get additional space savings and a lower weight when you’re working on-the-go.
With the HP Chromebook x2, you nearly halve the laptop’s combined weight when you detach your display to work in tablet mode. Also, a detachable also offers a slimmer profile compared to hinged convertibles, which essentially stack your keyboard and display just like a closed laptop. If you prefer something light and slim, a detachable is for you.
Other detachable laptops from HP®
If you like the idea of a detachable but aren’t sure you’re web-focused enough to warrant an HP Chromebook, there are plenty of other detachable laptop options. Just browse HP®'s full line and choose between models from HP ENVY, HP Spectre, and HP EliteBook lines to name just a few. You’ll find plenty of high-powered variants, alternative size configurations, and even designs with strong adjustable hinges for multiple work modes.
Alternative HP Chromebook configurations
Or maybe you like the sound of an HP Chromebook but don’t think you’ll need a detachable? While the market offers plenty of choices for laptops of different sizes and types, one of the biggest advantages of the HP Chromebook line is the sheer range of options you’ll find across the full line.
To give users more control, HP® offers models that range from 11 inches through 14 inches, so you can pick whatever is most comfortable for you. There are also EE (Education Edition) models geared specifically toward students and teachers. Even better, since HP Chromebook variations are priced competitively, you won’t have to sacrifice if you prefer a larger display or laptop layout.
The bottom line: Is the HP Chromebook x2 right for me?
Of course, your biggest question should still be if a detachable adds value to your computing experience. A traditional laptop can offer some boosted internal specs, but the unique configuration of a web-enhanced detachable may provide a better experience for many users.
If you know that you value mobility, spend most of your time on the internet, and prefer working on a tablet-style surface, then a detachable may help you save across the board: not just money, but space and time as well, when it comes down to the details of your routine.
You’ll also need to balance performance against flexibility. If you need something easy and comfortable to use, the HP Chromebook x2 could be the best and most affordable option for you.
About the Author: Dwight Pavlovic is a contributing writer for HP® Tech Takes. Dwight is a music and technology writer based out of West Virginia.