HP Envy X2: Design and Build Quality, Software Setup
A one-piece brushed aluminum chassis gives the Envy X2 a solid feel and a crisp aesthetic that might lead to comparisons with a MacBook or iPad Pro. Add to that an ultra-thin detachable keyboard and the overall impression one gets is one of quality and first-rate engineering. The fact that the keyboard, cover, and active digital stylus are included in the purchase price is a nice touch as well, especially when they are an additional expense with many similar devices in this class. The speakers (dual Bang & Olufsens tuned drivers) output a much more powerful sound than one might expect, which adds to the total effect. All in all, this is a classy machine that will more than suffice for most people in a variety of use cases.
The magnetic hinge on the cover for propping up the device gave me pause at first. It doesn't look that solid, and honestly, there's not much to it--just a thin bar and 10 tiny connector pads. As it turned out, though, the combination hinge/docking system worked flawlessly and latched on to the heavier slate with no problem. (But don't pick it up by just the front cover; the magnetic bond isn't that strong.)
Software setup on the Envy X2 is minimal: just run through the typical Windows 10 machinations and then the LTE connection dialogs. I opted out of having Cortana "assist" me as I clicked through the standard options, and once the appropriate LTE SIM was inserted into the tray on the right side of the display, cell connectivity was essentially automatic; just a brief pause while the system consulted its masters at Verizon, and then we were up and running. I should also note that the SIM tray is not easy to pop out that first time, and if you yank on it too hard, it will fly clear across the room, almost certainly landing on some textured or mottled portion of a counter or floor where it will be just about impossible to find. Don't ask me how I know this.
The move to an Intel dual core chip in this iteration of the machine was an interesting one. The previous version of the Envy X2 was dinged for its inconsistent performance, most of which was due to the emulation necessary for the Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor that was used. The 7th-Gen, low-power Intel Core i5 1.2GHz processor (which can crank itself up to 1.61GHz when necessary) gives the little beast native x86 compatibility and some additional muscle, though not enough to compete with some more powerful (and often more expensive) laptops. In typical office, media consumption, and video streaming scenarios, though, the Envy X2 more than holds its own. (Heavy-duty gaming and serious video editing will be another story, of course.)
The 12.3" HD WUXGA (1920 x 1280) touchscreen display held up well, indoors and out, with vibrant colors and sharp imaging throughout. Protected in layers of Corning Gorilla Glass, the unit is resistant to cracks and scratches but, as with most glossy displays, is prone to smudging. Wide bezels mean you lose some screen real estate, but they make holding the display in tablet mode much easier, so they are there for a reason.