HP SlateBook X2 Assessment: HP Takes On ASUS With A Dockable Android Pill

HP SlateBook X2 Assessment: HP Takes On ASUS With A Dockable Android Pill

Till now, ASUS hasn't had much competition in dockable Android tablets. Sure, www.sitelinks.info we have seen the odd mannequin from Lenovo and different firms, but for the most part, "Transformer" has develop into one of those words like "Kleenex" -- you realize, the type that refers just as much to a class as a selected model. Nonetheless, HP is throwing its hat within the ring. The SlateBook x2, only the company's second Android tablet, is a 10-inch slate that competes on value as a lot as efficiency. For $480, the keyboard dock comes included, and the pill itself boasts some high-notch specs, together with a 1,920 x 1,080 display screen and a Tegra four processor. And, after all, in addition to being a keyboard, that dock has a constructed-in battery of its personal, promising to extend the total runtime to up to 12.5 hours. So is it adequate that you'll remember not to call it a Transformer? With a matte plastic lid, executed up in a critical grey colour, it would be simple to dismiss the SlateBook x2 as bland. In truth, the SlateBook is memorable, principally because it's one of many lightest tablets we have ever handled. At 1.34 pounds for the slate alone, it is lighter than each the present iPad (1.44 pounds), as nicely as the Toshiba Excite Professional, which weighs an identical 1.39. As you'd expect, then, that makes it straightforward to carry aloft for an extended period of time, not that you'll need to if you happen to make use of that keyboard dock. Even with the base attached, the whole thing weighs in at 2.Eight pounds, making it barely lighter than a similarly sized laptop computer, even HP's personal Pavilion TouchSmart 11. What's good, too, is that the middle of gravity here is within the heavier dock piece, so not solely is the tablet mild, but it additionally by no means ideas over backward when you are working with it in your lap. That one successful high quality aside, although, this can be a design with problems. For starters, whereas the plastic finish does a great job resisting scratches, it manages to show a very good deal of fingerprints, despite the fact that it would not have a glossy surface. Ditto for the shiny steel logo on the rear cowl, which can also be ripe for grease stains. We're positive it was meant as a premium touch (steel accents normally are), however greater than anything it simply seems to be out of place. Worse, HP hid the most important buttons! Both the facility button and quantity rocker are situated on the back side of the device, each flush with the lid in order that even if you know what normal space they're in, they'll still be troublesome to find by feel. Even after weeks with the pill, I used to be more more likely to flip the pill over and press the power / lock button than successfully hit it with my finger. Which gets fairly previous after you've got accidentally let the pill go to sleep for the umpteenth time. Since HP designed the SlateBook in order that there are barely any defined edges -- simply gently sloping curves -- the company's design workforce had to put all the ports on the bottom side, the one that matches into the keyboard dock. There, you will find a headphone jack, a proprietary charging port and an uncovered microSD slot to augment the 16GB of constructed-in storage. Of course, you've got additionally bought a pair of cameras, together with a 720p entrance-dealing with webcam and a reasonably wimpy 2-megapixel rear shooter (no LED flash). That about covers the pill itself, however because this is meant to be used in laptop computer mode a few of the time, you will also find a handful of ports on the accompanying keyboard dock. These include a USB socket, additional headphone jack, HDMI-out, a full-sized SD card reader and one other charging port -- the same sort of proprietary socket featured on the tablet itself. Perhaps it is as a result of we've tested one too many Transformer tablets, but we had been certain the SlateBook's keyboard dock was going to be cramped, flimsy and a ache to sort on. It seems, although, that our fears have been unfounded. After a few years of cramming almost full-sized keyboards into tiny laptops (see: the Pavilion dm1z), HP is bringing that same formulation over to its new Android tablet. Although the keys right here don't necessarily supply extra travel than what you may get on an ASUS Transformer, the underlying panel is sturdier, permitting it to stand as much as extra insistent typing. Also, considering this isn't fairly a full-sized format, the buttons are well-spaced and generously sized. Actually, yours really rarely made typos while responding to emails, searching Chrome or even writing this evaluation. Pairing a trackpad with an Android tablet is a humorous thing. On the one hand, Android wasn't designed to be used with a mouse and keyboard. On the other, once you've got gotten used to typing on a keyboard dock, it could possibly really feel cumbersome to elevate your hand away from the keys to scroll through a webpage or hit the little refresh icon. Mainly, if you've already settled into a typing groove, it is solely pure to want to throw in a two-finger scroll. As it occurs, the trackpad here is responsive enough that you might page up and down without having to take your palms removed from the keyboard. It is a finicky setup, though, and more than as soon as, we gave up and swiped the touchscreen instead. On the plus facet, the touchpad's surface area is larger than we'd have requested for, and the Android hotkeys (residence, again, search, quantity controls, et cetera) needs to be indispensable to anyone already used to keyboard shortcuts on their common laptop computer. We would be mendacity if we stated full HD resolution was a typical characteristic for tablets, however no less than with the expensive models, you are more or less in the clear. For the cash, the SlateBook x2 provides a 10.1-inch 1,920 x 1,080 display. Despite having an IPS panel, the viewing angles are a bit slim, though we suspect that has more to do with a low brightness ranking than a failure of the IPS know-how. To be truthful, too, we solely first observed the limited viewing angles once we performed a movie with the pill mendacity face-up on a desk. And actually, that's mainly a state of affairs for us reviewers (we do have to check the battery life with out the dock, in spite of everything). Because this thing comes with a keyboard, we will not think about why you'd need to observe a film with the pill lying flat -- not unless you forgot the dock at home, anyway. As soon as you've put the pill within the dock, you may regulate the display screen angle, so chances are good you'll discover a candy spot the place the colors are brilliant and the contrast is balanced. To its credit score, HP put the 2 audio system on the tablet's entrance face, in order that the sound is at all times firing towards you. Still, even splendid speaker placement doesn't do much to enhance the audio quality. For one factor, the amount right here is pretty low. So low, in actual fact, that we puzzled at first if maybe the quality itself can be first rate (oftentimes, units with weaker sound exhibit less distortion and tinniness). Right here, although, the sound is each low and tinny -- principally, the worst of each worlds. Beats, with which it has a really sturdy and, uh, colorful partnership. As a lot as we mock HP's purple-and-black Beats-branded PCs, that may have been a welcome function here. HP only not too long ago re-entered the pill market, and whereas it hasn't at all times gotten the hardware proper, it is accomplished the sensible factor in sticking with unskinned Android (version 4.2.2, in this case). Even the checklist of pre-put in apps is pretty light. On board, we have: Box, Evernote, Kingsoft Workplace, Skitch, Splashtop and TegraZone, for finding Tegra-optimized video games. Really, most of the non-inventory apps here are from HP itself, including Printer Control, ePrint, HP File Supervisor, HP Media Participant and HP Digital camera, which we'll return to in just a second. Within the meantime, the media player permits for playback of music, photographs and movies, with an option to stream content to a Miracast-certified display. You can too capture photos or video from within the Media Player app, in the event watching another person's work evokes you to make one thing of your own. At any charge, you may find shortcuts on the home display for HP's camera, media participant and file supervisor, however you may take away all of them with a long-press, the identical approach you'd eliminate another shortcut. Like most other consumer electronics, the SlateBook x2 comes with a one-year warranty, including 24/7 telephone help. The SlateBook x2 is only the second pill we've examined with a Tegra four processor inside, however we're already properly satisfied of the chip's immense efficiency potential. As you possibly can see in the desk above, Tegra four helps each the x2 and the Toshiba Excite Write sail past the Xperia Pill Z (and its quad-core Snapdragon S4 Professional chipset) in benchmark assessments. But the SlateBook beats the Write in every take a look at (sometimes by an enormous margin), although they have the identical Tegra four chip and 2GB of RAM. We're still unsure which means the SlateBook is exceptional for a Tegra 4 pill -- we already had some misgivings about the Write's uneven efficiency -- however in a method, it does not matter: the x2 is quick and dependable. Transitions are smooth and apps are fast to open. We additionally had no downside juggling between Gmail, several open tabs in Chrome and different miscellaneous apps, together with Facebook, Twitter and a third-party media player. As for gaming, it was smooth sailing in Fractal Fight, the place we have been able to fly our aircraft upside down after which flip it over again, all without any stuttering. If there's one downside to the efficiency, it is that the rear casing on the tablet can get warm (not scorching, however warm) with out a lot provocation. That'll be a moot point if you are using it in laptop computer mode, although you might notice your fingers getting a bit toasty if you are cradling the machine in your arms. Again, though, it never gets pants-scorchingly scorching, so that you shouldn't have to regulate your usage habits a lot, if at all. HP claims that with the dock connected, the pill can final as much as 12.5 hours. That's a finest-case scenario, of course -- one we weren't in a position to replicate. In our admittedly taxing rundown take a look at, which includes looping a video off native storage with WiFi on and the brightness fastened at 50 p.c, the pill itself lasted just six hours and 34 minutes -- that's nearly 5 hours lower than the present iPad, and three hours lower than ASUS' Transformer Pad Infinity. Even the Nexus 10, which we faulted for thus-so battery life, lasted about an hour longer in the identical test. Sadly, contemplating how heavy the dock is (1.46 pounds), it would not boost battery life almost the way we expected it to. With the dock connected, we bought an additional two hours and 15 minutes of runtime, bringing the total to eight hours and 49 minutes. All advised, that's a respectable displaying for a 10-inch pill, but remember, there are models just like the iPad and Transformer Pad Infinity that may ship equal or better results with out the aid of a dock. On the plus side, we do appreciate the optional battery life widget HP included, which reveals you the remaining juice for both the pill and the bottom. Not exactly a consolation for such subpar runtime, but a minimum of you get a sense of how shortly you're losing steam. Like we said, ASUS doesn't have all that a lot competition in the dockable Android pill class. The Lenovo IdeaTab S2110 we reviewed a yr in the past has been discontinued, and nothing related has taken its place. Acer has some dockable tablets, however all of them run Home windows 8; the closest thing we can advocate is the forthcoming Iconia A3, and even that's not a good match, as it is a decrease-worth product with inferior specs (1,280 x 800 display, et cetera). The most direct competitor, maybe (other than something made by ASUS), is the Toshiba Excite Professional, a 10-inch tablet with a sharper 2,560 x 1,600, 300-ppi screen and the identical Tegra 4 chip used within the SlateBook x2. At $500, it is priced similarly, and it comes with 32GB of inside storage, not sixteen (both way, you get a microSD slot). The plain commerce-off, as far as we can inform, is that the keyboard is bought individually for $42, and even then, it isn't a proper keyboard dock, however a wireless keyboard. At any price, we have not tested it, so unfortunately we will not vouch for its efficiency or battery life. However, we did assessment the Excite Write (the same tablet, just with a pen digitizer) and we encountered some performance glitches. Hopefully, although, that's the kind of factor Toshiba can handle with a firmware replace throughout the whole Excite line. For those who do insist on ready for ASUS to refresh the present offerings, it's already announced the brand new Transformer Pad Infinity, which also has a Tegra four chip and 2,560 x 1,600 screen. It is also able to 4K output, according to ASUS, although that is largely a gimmick at this point, if we're being sincere. Excited? So are we, but the corporate hasn't actually introduced US pricing or availability but, so we can't even say for sure how lengthy you is perhaps ready for this. These include the Sony Xperia Pill Z, a thin, waterproof tablet that starts at $500. Then, of course, there's the iPad ($499 and up), not that that is a helpful recommendation for anybody already bought on Android. This most likely goes with out saying, but the HP SlateBook x2 is simply a sensible buy in case you intend to make good use out of the keyboard. It is essential to remember that the dock isn't a enjoyable extra right here: it comes in the box, and it defines the way you're supposed to use the product. If you happen to do count on to spend numerous time on e-mail and note-taking, this is essentially the most snug keyboard dock on any Android tablet, and it helps improve the battery life too. As a standalone tablet, though, the x2 gives skimpy battery life and awkwardly placed quantity and energy buttons that may be arduous to seek out by feel -- even if you've got been utilizing it for a while. The neatest thing we are able to say in regards to the tablet itself is that its Tegra four chip yields quick, stable performance. Even then, Tegra 4 will probably energy numerous devices released in the approaching months, so it's not like HP can really claim credit for that. Principally, then, if the keyboard is just an accessory for you, you'd be better off spending $500 or so on a pill with longer battery life and a extra beautiful screen. It's not like you've acquired any shortage of choices. All products beneficial by Engadget are selected by our editorial staff, impartial of our father or mother company. Some of our tales include affiliate hyperlinks. If you purchase something via one of these hyperlinks, we may earn an affiliate fee.