There’s a great deal to dislike about the HP Elite X2 1012, a business-level, tablet-laptop hybrid with a sleek and detachable aluminium keyboard and a surprisingly lovely iPhone 5 style chamfered finish.
You’ve got ugly little grievances, like the default, HP-branded desktop wallpaper, which appears to be a picture of a petri dish filled with spit. Then there are the words “Bang & Olufsen” perched on the top left corner of the bezel like a branding gargoyle (the sound quality, incidentally, is not especially great), while in the opposite corner Intel has slapped its gaudy, thumbnail-sized holographic sticker.
In isolation these things are hardly the design crimes of the century, but taken together they’re aesthetic poison. The HP Elite X2 is a very expensive (£1,228.80) object doing its level best to look like it’s been plucked from a Currys’ bargain bucket.
But that’s missing the point. Armed with enterprise-grade security and networking features, this is a two-in-one that’s more concerned with function than appearance. In that regard – the boring regard that makes IT managers rub their thighs in excitement – the HP Elite X2 is a top performing device.
The gorilla glass screen can be freely popped off, allowing access to the tablet’s innards where you can swap out encrypted drives and other components like a tinkering elf. The tablet is notepad-thin and weighs less than two pounds, roughly quarter the weight of an average housecat. It comes with a Wacom stylus, though with few ways to store it besides a couple of inelegant and cheap solutions – an adhesive band or (honestly) a bit of string – it’s destined to be lost or swallowed.
Battery life is lacking in comparison to similar machines. A full charge will get you through a day of use, but you’ll want to stay in arm’s reach of a charger at most times.
The display is merely okay, but at only 1,280 pixels tall it falls way short of the retina-display sharpness of the class-leading Surface Pro 4. But it’s worth reiterating, the HP Elite X2 isn’t pitched as an entertainment device. “Fye on your pixels,” says its all-business screen for spreadsheets and pie charts, “and stop watching Netflix at work.”
If you’re after a toy, the Surface Pro 4 is the two-in-one you’ll want in this price range. Otherwise the HP Elite X2 is boring and sensible, a businessman in the streets, a businessman in the sheets, a businessman in the bedroom and the kitchen and in every room in between.