HP SlateBook X2 Evaluate: HP Takes On ASUS With A Dockable Android Tablet

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Until now, ASUS hasn't had a lot competitors in dockable Android tablets. Positive, we have seen the odd mannequin from Lenovo and different firms, but for the most part, "Transformer" has turn into a kind of phrases like "Kleenex" -- you realize, the sort that refers just as much to a class as a selected model. Nonetheless, HP is throwing its hat in the ring. The SlateBook x2, solely the company's second Android pill, is a 10-inch slate that competes on price as much as performance. For $480, the keyboard dock comes included, and the tablet itself boasts some prime-notch specs, including a 1,920 x 1,080 screen and a Tegra four processor. And, in fact, in addition to being a keyboard, that dock has a built-in battery of its personal, promising to extend the whole runtime to up to 12.5 hours. So is it ok that you will remember to not call it a Transformer? With a matte plastic lid, performed up in a serious grey color, it can be easy to dismiss the SlateBook x2 as bland. In fact, the SlateBook is memorable, mostly because it's one of many lightest tablets we've 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 Pro, which weighs a similar 1.39. As you'd count on, then, that makes it straightforward to hold aloft for an extended time frame, not that you're going to need to if you make use of that keyboard dock. Even with the bottom connected, the whole thing weighs in at 2.Eight pounds, making it barely lighter than a equally sized laptop, even HP's personal Pavilion TouchSmart 11. What's good, too, is that the center of gravity here is within the heavier dock piece, so not only is the pill mild, but it surely additionally by no means ideas over backward when you're working with it in your lap. That one winning high quality apart, although, it is a design with issues. For starters, whereas the plastic end does a good job resisting scratches, it manages to point out a good deal of fingerprints, although it does not have a glossy floor. Ditto for the shiny metallic emblem on the rear cowl, which can also be ripe for grease stains. We're certain it was meant as a premium contact (metal accents often are), but greater than anything it just looks out of place. Worse, HP hid crucial buttons! Both the power button and volume rocker are situated on the back side of the system, each flush with the lid in order that even if you understand what common space they're in, they'll still be troublesome to seek out by really feel. Even after weeks with the tablet, I used to be more prone to flip the pill over and press the power / lock button than efficiently hit it with my finger. Which gets fairly outdated after you've got unintentionally let the pill go to sleep for the umpteenth time. Since HP designed the SlateBook so that there are barely any defined edges -- just gently sloping curves -- the corporate's design group had to put all of the ports on the underside side, the one that fits into the keyboard dock. There, you'll discover a headphone jack, a proprietary charging port and an uncovered microSD slot to enhance the 16GB of built-in storage. In fact, you have additionally bought a pair of cameras, together with a 720p front-going through webcam and a fairly wimpy 2-megapixel rear shooter (no LED flash). That about covers the tablet itself, however because this is meant to be used in laptop computer mode among the time, you will also discover a handful of ports on the accompanying keyboard dock. These embrace a USB socket, additional headphone jack, HDMI-out, a full-sized SD card reader and one other charging port -- the same kind of proprietary socket featured on the tablet itself. Perhaps it's because we've tested one too many Transformer tablets, however we had been sure the SlateBook's keyboard dock was going to be cramped, flimsy and a ache to type on. It appears, though, that our fears had been unfounded. After many years of cramming nearly full-sized keyboards into tiny laptops (see: the Pavilion dm1z), HP is bringing that very same system over to its new Android pill. Although the keys here do not necessarily provide 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 is not fairly a full-sized layout, the buttons are properly-spaced and generously sized. In truth, yours truly not often made typos whereas responding to emails, searching Chrome or even penning this review. Pairing a trackpad with an Android pill is a humorous thing. On the one hand, Android wasn't designed for use with a mouse and keyboard. On the other, once you've got gotten used to typing on a keyboard dock, it may possibly really feel cumbersome to elevate your hand away from the keys to scroll by way of a webpage or hit the little refresh icon. Basically, if you've got already settled right into a typing groove, it is solely pure to wish to throw in a two-finger scroll. Because it occurs, the trackpad right here is responsive sufficient that you would web page up and down with out having to take your arms far from the keyboard. It is a finicky setup, although, and greater than once, we gave up and swiped the touchscreen as an alternative. On the plus side, the touchpad's surface space is larger than we would have asked for, and the Android hotkeys (house, back, search, quantity controls, et cetera) must be indispensable to anybody already used to keyboard shortcuts on their regular laptop. We'd be lying if we said full HD decision was a standard feature for tablets, but at the least with the costly models, you are kind of within the clear. For the cash, the SlateBook x2 presents a 10.1-inch 1,920 x 1,080 display. Regardless of having an IPS panel, the viewing angles are a bit slender, although we suspect that has extra to do with a low brightness rating than a failure of the IPS know-how. To be fair, too, www.indiegogo.com we only first seen the restricted viewing angles once we played a movie with the pill mendacity face-up on a table. And actually, that is primarily a situation for us reviewers (we do have to test the battery life with out the dock, after all). As a result of this thing comes with a keyboard, we won't think about why you'd need to observe a movie with the tablet lying flat -- not except you forgot the dock at home, anyway. Once you've put the tablet within the dock, you'll be able to regulate the screen angle, so chances are high good you'll find a candy spot where the colours are vibrant and the contrast is balanced. To its credit, HP put the 2 audio system on the pill's front face, in order that the sound is at all times firing toward you. Still, even very best speaker placement does not do much to improve the audio quality. For one factor, the quantity right here is fairly low. So low, actually, that we questioned at first if maybe the standard itself can be respectable (oftentimes, gadgets with weaker sound exhibit much less distortion and tinniness). Here, though, the sound is each low and tinny -- basically, the worst of both worlds. Beats, with which it has a really sturdy and, uh, colorful partnership. As much as we mock HP's red-and-black Beats-branded PCs, which will have been a welcome function here. HP only lately re-entered the pill market, and whereas it hasn't all the time gotten the hardware right, it's accomplished the sensible thing in sticking with unskinned Android (version 4.2.2, on this case). Even the record of pre-installed apps is fairly light. On board, we have now: Field, Evernote, Kingsoft Office, Skitch, Splashtop and TegraZone, for finding Tegra-optimized games. Actually, a lot of the non-inventory apps listed below are from HP itself, including Printer Control, ePrint, HP File Manager, HP Media Player and HP Digicam, which we'll return to in only a moment. In the meantime, the media player permits for playback of music, pictures and videos, with an option to stream content to a Miracast-certified display. You may as well seize photographs or video from throughout the Media Participant app, within the event watching someone else's work inspires you to make one thing of your individual. At any price, you may find shortcuts on the home display for HP's digital camera, media participant and file manager, but you may remove all of them with a protracted-press, the identical method you'd do away with any other shortcut. Like most different shopper electronics, the SlateBook x2 comes with a one-yr warranty, including 24/7 telephone help. The SlateBook x2 is just the second pill we've tested with a Tegra 4 processor inside, but we're already properly convinced of the chip's immense efficiency potential. As you can see in the desk above, Tegra 4 helps each the x2 and the Toshiba Excite Write sail previous the Xperia Tablet Z (and its quad-core Snapdragon S4 Pro chipset) in benchmark tests. However the SlateBook beats the Write in every take a look at (sometimes by a big margin), although they have the same Tegra 4 chip and 2GB of RAM. We're still undecided which means the SlateBook is exceptional for a Tegra four tablet -- we already had some misgivings concerning the Write's uneven performance -- however in a manner, it does not matter: the x2 is fast and dependable. Transitions are easy and apps are quick to open. We additionally had no downside juggling between Gmail, several open tabs in Chrome and other miscellaneous apps, together with Fb, Twitter and a third-party media participant. As for gaming, it was smooth crusing in Fractal Fight, the place we had been in a position to fly our airplane upside down after which flip it over again, all with none stuttering. If there's one draw back to the efficiency, it's that the rear casing on the pill can get warm (not scorching, but warm) with out much provocation. That'll be a moot level if you are using it in laptop mode, although you may discover your fingers getting a bit toasty if you are cradling the machine in your fingers. Once more, though, it never gets pants-scorchingly hot, so you shouldn't have to adjust your utilization habits much, if in any respect. HP claims that with the dock connected, the tablet can last up to 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 simply six hours and 34 minutes -- that's almost five hours lower than the current iPad, and three hours less than ASUS' Transformer Pad Infinity. Even the Nexus 10, which we faulted for therefore-so battery life, lasted about an hour longer in the identical take a look at. Sadly, contemplating how heavy the dock is (1.46 pounds), it would not boost battery life practically the way we expected it to. With the dock attached, we acquired an additional two hours and quarter-hour of runtime, bringing the overall to eight hours and forty nine 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 can deliver equal or higher results with out the aid of a dock. On the plus aspect, we do admire the optional battery life widget HP included, which exhibits you the remaining juice for both the pill and the bottom. Not precisely a consolation for such subpar runtime, however at least you get a sense of how quickly you're losing steam. Like we said, ASUS does not have all that much competition within the dockable Android pill class. The Lenovo IdeaTab S2110 we reviewed a yr ago has been discontinued, and nothing similar has taken its place. Acer has some dockable tablets, but all of them run Home windows 8; the closest factor we can advocate is the forthcoming Iconia A3, and even that is not a fair match, as it's a lower-price product with inferior specs (1,280 x 800 screen, et cetera). Probably the most direct competitor, maybe (apart from something made by ASUS), is the Toshiba Excite Pro, a 10-inch tablet with a sharper 2,560 x 1,600, 300-ppi display and the identical Tegra 4 chip used in the SlateBook x2. At $500, it is priced similarly, and it comes with 32GB of inner storage, not 16 (either manner, you get a microSD slot). The plain commerce-off, so far as we are able to inform, is that the keyboard is sold individually for $42, and even then, it is not a proper keyboard dock, however a wireless keyboard. At any charge, we haven't examined it, so unfortunately we won't vouch for its performance or battery life. But, we did assessment the Excite Write (the identical tablet, simply with a pen digitizer) and we encountered some performance glitches. Hopefully, though, that's the type of factor Toshiba can handle with a firmware update throughout the entire Excite line. In case you do insist on ready for ASUS to refresh the current offerings, it's already announced the new Transformer Pad Infinity, which also has a Tegra four chip and 2,560 x 1,600 display. It's also capable of 4K output, based on ASUS, though that is mostly a gimmick at this point, if we're being sincere. Excited? So are we, however the corporate hasn't truly introduced US pricing or availability but, so we can't even say for positive how long you could be ready for this. These embody the Sony Xperia Pill Z, a skinny, waterproof tablet that begins at $500. Then, in fact, there's the iPad ($499 and up), not that that's a useful recommendation for anybody already sold on Android. This probably goes without saying, however the HP SlateBook x2 is just a wise buy when you intend to make good use out of the keyboard. It is important to remember that the dock is not a enjoyable additional here: it comes in the field, and it defines the way you are supposed to use the product. In the event you do anticipate to spend plenty of time on electronic mail and word-taking, that is the most comfortable keyboard dock on any Android tablet, and it helps enhance the battery life too. As a standalone pill, though, the x2 offers skimpy battery life and awkwardly placed volume and power buttons that can be exhausting to search out by feel -- even when you have been utilizing it for a while. The best thing we will say concerning the pill itself is that its Tegra four chip yields quick, stable performance. Even then, Tegra four will most likely power a lot of units launched in the coming months, so it's not like HP can actually declare credit for that. Principally, then, if the keyboard is just an accessory for you, you would be better off spending $500 or so on a pill with longer battery life and a more gorgeous display screen. It is not like you've obtained any scarcity of choices. All products beneficial by Engadget are selected by our editorial team, impartial of our mother or father firm. Some of our stories embody affiliate hyperlinks. If you buy something via one of these links, we may earn an affiliate fee.