HP Elite x2 to face off against the Surface Pro 4 early next year
"Microsoft created the market, but we have something better."
Speaking to vice president of HP Mobility Solutions Keith Hartsfield, he explained to us how the Surface Pro series has catered well to business users in need of something more portable than a notebook but with more utility than a typical Android tablet. Not to be outdone without putting up a fight, HP has been developing a true competitor to the Surface Pro all along with the Elite x2 detachable. After all, HP has been the go-to manufacturer for business solutions on both the SMB and enterprise levels for many years.
The aluminum-clad Elite x2 addresses common user complaints about the Surface Pro while drawing inspiration from HP's existing lineup of consumer and high-end products. First from the design standpoint, the Elite x2 is thinner (8.05 mm vs. 8.45 mm) and heavier than the Surface Pro 4 (840 g vs. 766 g), but with better accessibility and even upgradebility - both rarities in the tablet market. A small Torx wrench is all users will need to pop out the rear cover and gain access to the upgradeable M.2 SSD. The tablet itself has been tested to withstand drops of up to 20 inches on concrete and static pressure of up to 10 pounds. A quick look at iFixit reveals that both the Surface Pro 4 and Surface Book rank very poorly in end-user repairability due to the copious amount of adhesives.
Users will also notice the return of the aluminum C-shape kickstand as found on the latest Spectre x2 refresh. Like its consumer-based counterpart, the design allows for an angle of up to about 150 degrees without sacrificing battery life or rigidity. It may appear flimsy because of its thinness, but we can assure readers that it is quite resistant to bends and twists. From our short time with the device, we find the kickstand to be a better solution than the standard latches and locks as found on cheaper detachables like the Split x2.
As for the keyboard dock itself, the aluminum base and backlit plastic keys are again more rigid than they appear with solid feedback when pressed and with 1.5 mm travel. Like the Microsoft Type Cover, the base attaches to the tablet via magnetic POGO pins and includes no Bluetooth or secondary battery support. We asked if HP will ever consider adding more functionality to its base portion a la the Surface Book, but Hartsfield would only allude to possible wireless charging capabilities for future Elite x2 redesigns.
That's not to say that the dock has no features as there two to choose from: The standard keyboard dock (Travel keyboard) and a slightly thicker version (Advanced keyboard) with built-in NFC and Smart Card reader. There's no ExpressCard reader, but these are just more features exclusive on HP's list that is overtly missing on the Surface Pro 4.
The gritty hardware specifications are provided below with the fanless Core m3/m5/m7 Skylake CPUs, USB Type-C Gen. 2 w/ Thunderbolt 3, WACOM digitizer, and 4G LTE support being the main highlights. In fact, the USB Type-C port doubles as the charger port as well. There are currently no plans for SKUs with Core i3/i5/i7 options as HP finds the Core m series to be powerful enough for the target audience. In this sense, the Surface Pro 4 may hold the performance advantage over the Elite x2. Furthermore, the HP tablet is limited to 1920 x 1280 for now.
The Elite x2 won't make it on time for the Holidays and will instead become available early January starting for $899 USD - the same MSRP as the entry-level Surface Pro 4. All SKUs come with the standard keyboard and stylus. Of course, expect our full review on the detachable as we move closer to launch and the CES time frame.
- Intel Core m3-6Y30/m5-6Y54/m7 CPU options
- Integrated HD Graphics 515
- 4/8 GB LPDDR3-1866 SDRAM, dual-channel
- 128/180/256 GB M.2 PCIe SSD (No NVMe options)
- 12-inch 1920 x 1280 resolution (3:2) glossy touchscreen, Gorilla Glass 4, 340 nits maximum
- Intel Wireless-AC 8260 (2x2), Bluetooth 4.2
- Qualcomm Snapdragon X5 LTE Broadband Modem
- Full-size USB 3.0 port, USB Type-C Gen. 2 w/ Thunderbolt 3, MicroSD slot, Micro-SIM slot, 3.5 mm audio jack, Kensington Lock
- 5 MP rear + 2 MP front cameras
- TPM 2.0, fingerprint reader, drive encryption, HP Sure Start
- 840 g( tablet only), 1.235 kg (+ Travel keyboard), 1.310 kg (+ Advanced keyboard)