Both a handy tablet and an effective laptop, the Pavilion x2 is a great all-rounder
The HP Pavilion x2 is the first tablet/laptop I’ve reviewed since Windows 10 launched, so I was excited to properly put the new operating system through its paces on a hybrid device where touch is central to how you use it. Sadly, the x2 runs Windows 8.1 out of the box, so you’ll immediately need to update it to Windows 10 with a 2.7GB download and 60-minute+ install time.
Still, it’s worth it. Windows 10 wasn’t just a big improvement for desktops: with incredibly easy-to-use touch gestures, window snapping and Task View, the Windows desktop is finally ready for tablet screens. The HP Pavilion x2 handles these swipes and gestures in relatively quick fashion, with the passively-cooled, 1.33GHz quad-core Intel Atom Z3736F responding to most commands in under half a second – just fast enough to not be a frustration. The tablet only has 2GB of memory, though, so you’re rather limited in the amount of tabs you can have open in your web browser or number of applications you can have open. This is a tablet intended for light use only. In Expert Reviews’ dual-core multimedia benchmark, where a low-end Intel Core i3-4030U scores 100, the x2 scored 46.
Sadly, HP has bundled McAfee LiveSafe with this tablet, which means its onerous, processor-hogging behaviour soon kicks in, bringing everything to a crawl. Uninstall it as soon as you’re able and find a less processor-heavy piece of security software.
What’s impressive about the Pavilion x2 is how it doesn’t look anything like a £220 laptop. The sharply curved metallic edges, Bang & Olufsen-branded front-facing speakers and bright screen all point towards a much more expensive device. However, once you get your hands on it, the slightly flexy plastic and low-resolution 1,280×800 screen reveal its budget origins. Even the speaker grille is a bit misleading; only a small portion of this seemingly decorative feature actually houses any speakers, and the clarity of the audio barely changes if you cover them up or face them away from you. They’re loud and clear, at least, but don’t expect HTC BoomSound levels of audio fidelity here; these are cheap mono tweeters.
Around the edges of the tablet you get a single full-size USB2 port and a USB Type-C port that’s used for charging. The Type-C connector is reversible, so you won’t have to worry about scrabbling to plug the charging cable in the right way round. There’s also a MicroSD card slot to expand the x2’s paltry 32GB of storage, much of which is consumed by Windows 10. The tablet portion weighs 580g and with the keyboard attached it tips the scales at 1.18kg, so it’s hardly a burden, even for those who like to travel light.
I wasn’t expecting it, but I was actually able to get some serious work done with the tablet docked into the keyboard. Despite the keyboard’s tiny dimensions, my fairly large digits had no problem flitting between the island-style keys, which isn’t always the case with these tiny devices. What’s more, with a combination of swipes and taps on the screen and more delicate commands on the relatively responsive touchpad, I never felt I was being hamstrung by the x2’s lack of power. As long as you stick to one task at a time and don’t expect the world, the x2 won’t disappoint.
The only problem I had with the keyboard is that it doesn’t have any extra USB ports, so I couldn’t connect a mouse and a USB flash drive at the same time, for example, although a cheap Bluetooth mouse can easily be picked up to sidestep the issue. The tablet can also be attached to the keyboard in reverse, meaning you can use the keyboard to hold the tablet up when you want the screen to be front-and-centre, such as when you’re watching a movie on a small tray table in a train or a plane.
I also found sticking to Microsoft’s Edge browser a more worthwhile pursuit than attempting to browse with Google Chrome. While Google Chrome will stutter as you try to scroll up and down a media-heavy page while it’s still loading, Edge always feels smooth. It doesn’t manage to load everything especially quickly but, again, I never felt like it was holding me back. Its only downside is that it doesn’t seem to store the tabs you have open in RAM, so it takes time to switch from one image-heavy tab to another as the device fishes it out of its page file.
While the screen’s 1,280×800 pixel resolution is admittedly ridiculously tiny in this day and age, it actually works fine on a 10.1in screen. Yes, putting two windows side-by-side is nearly impossible if you actually want to see anything on either window, but if you remember that this is really more of a tablet with a keyboard than a laptop, it’s forgivable. Working on outside on the Pavilion x2 is possible; while the screen is fairly reflective I had no problem reading and writing sitting outside on a cloudy day thanks to the 327cd/m2 maximum brightness of the screen. The story will likely be somewhat different on a proper sunny day, however. Colours looks fairly drab in comparison with top-end IPS screens, but viewing angles are wide and the 1158:1 contrast levels means more subtle details are fairly easy to see.
Battery life on the machine is actually very good at 7h 58m in Expert Reviews’ moderate usage benchmark. However, if you dare to run the battery down be prepared to wait an eternity for it to recharge; from around 25% full it takes more than four hours to fully charge. This limits its practicality if you want to give it a quick splash of juice before moving on.
With Windows 10 installed, the HP Pavilion x2 is a force to be reckoned with, and while its specifications may make its £250 price seem slightly over the odds, its impressive design and build quality, usable keyboard and great battery life more than make up for it. If you only want one device in your life and your needs are modest, the HP Pavilion is a great choice.
|Quad-core 1.33GHz Intel Atom Z3736F
|Memory slots (free)
|Realtek HD Audio (3.5mm headset jack)
|Intel HD Graphics
|Optical drive type
|Ports and expansion
|1x USB, 1x USB-C
|Memory card reader
|Windows 8.1 32bit
|Operating system restore option
|Windows 8 recovery
|Parts and labour warranty
|One year collect and return
|Price inc VAT