We’ve told you they were coming. We’ve told you there were multiple detachable Chromebooks in the works. We just didn’t know when exactly they would break cover or who would be the first to market.
Those questions have now been answered, and we couldn’t be more delighted to share with you all the fantastic details!
What you see in the image above is the world’s very first detachable Chromebook: the HP Chromebook X2. We have lots of details to share, but first, some pictures to show off this device that looks to match its sleek name with smooth, sleek design.
If you are anything like us, you’ll be giving those images a look quite a few times and remarking on the overall aesthetic HP has crafted into this Chromebook. It looks beautiful, slim, and well-made. I honestly have looked through those pics at least 10 times, so if you want to look again, feel free.
Now then, let’s talk about all that HP is doing with this device and why I think this is the best possible start to the detachable Chromebook takeover we see on the horizon.
First, The Specs
I’m sure all of you are wondering what is inside this beautiful piece of kit, so I’ll get right to it. I’ll also provide this download if you want to see the specs right from HP. Here goes!
- Processor: Intel® Core™ M3-7Y30
- Memory: 4GB or 8GB LPDDR3-1600 SDRAM
- Graphics: Intel® HD Graphics 615
- Storage: 32 GB eMMC
- Cameras: Wide Vision 5MP Front-Facing Camera / 13 MP Rear-Facing Camera
- Screen: 12.3-inch diagonal 2K IPS WLED-backlit touchscreen (2400 x 1600)
- Wireless: Intel® 802.11b/g/n/ac (2×2) and Bluetooth® 4.2
- Audio: B&O PLAY with dual speakers
- Inputs: Full-size island-style keyboard / Touchpad supporting multi-touch gestures / HP Active Pen
- Ports: 2 USB-C 3.0 Gen 1 Ports / Headphone/Microphone Combo Jack
- Dimensions: 11.50 in (W) x 8.32 in (D) x 0.33 in (H)
- Weight: 1.62 lb (tablet) / 3.07 lb (tablet + base)
- Battery: 4-cell, 48 Wh lithium-ion battery
I’m going to treat the next few sections a bit like a review. We’ll talk through what we know in all the standard areas we normally review: build, hinge, screen, keyboard/trackpad, inputs/outputs, and internals/performance. Let’s talk about the build quality on offer.
HP mentioned the materials multiple times in the press event last week, so it feels like they’ve really put some effort into making this a top-shelf experience. Here are a few comments from the press release:
The HP Chromebook x2 is nothing less than premium with a ceramic white anodized aluminum finish and a leather-like surface in Oxford Blue on the detachable full-sized keyboard.
We were also told in the pre-release that the keyboard is reinforced with metal internally, providing a rigid, strong base.
The whole thing reeks of premium, so I’m excited to see one in the flesh for sure. Of course, we’ll need to get a full review of the device before we can really begin comparisons with things like the Pixelbook, ASUS C302 or Samsung Chromebook Plus/Pro.
Without doubt, this is the most important part of this device’s unique DNA. To this point, we’ve only had clamshell and convertible Chromebooks. Sure, we now have a tablet running around in the education sector, but it won’t be widely available and isn’t aimed at consumers.
The HP X2 (thanks again, HP for a tight name) will take aim directly at consumers and will be unique in lots of ways thanks to its hinge. Take a look at this quick video.
As I said in the opening, we’re on the edge of a detachable Chromebook takeover. HP is simply the first to announce. Detachable Chromebooks will offer the ability to use the Chromebook as a true tablet or a fairly good clamshell in most cases. If you consider devices like the Microsoft Surface, you know that those types of devices are great tablets and decent laptops due to the kickstand and super-thin keyboard. Using the device in your lap, on the couch, or in the bed isn’t the best experience.
It isn’t awful, but it isn’t as great as a dedicated clamshell or convertible.
To be honest, this style is exactly what we were expecting from HP when we learned it would be a convertible being announced this week. To our surprise, HP did something really interesting, and I think it could pay off quite well.
Like the Microsoft Surface Book, the HP Chromebook X2 has a hinged base that is firm and actuating. This means that when the device has the keyboard portion attached, you can open and close it like a clamshell. As a matter of fact, if you pop the tablet portion off and flip it around, you can also use the tent and display modes just like a convertible if you wish. You can also close it all the way up and hold it in tablet mode without the keys exposed (since the screen has been flipped around, unlike convertibles).
Easier than that, however, is detaching the device completely. With a simple magnetic clasp, the whole thing can be easily pulled into two pieces without buttons or any weird software quirks.
So, to recap, you get all the benefits of a clamshell, convertible, and tablet all in one device. If I’m choosing my favorite form-factor for a computer these days, HP has nailed it on the head. With the tablet portion weighing only 1.62lbs, the tablet experience should feel quite good and similar to using a Surface Pro, only lighter and a bit thinner. For reference, the Surface is 2lbs and 0.53 inches thick: the HP Chromebook X2 is 1.62lbs and 0.33 inches thick.
This thing is going to feel really great as a tablet. Oh, and it looks like it will have symmetrical bezels, so that’s a big win for tablet mode, too.
This part will be short! Why? Well, the panel being used here is the same one in the Samsung Chromebook Pro/Plus and the Pixelbook. 12.3-inches, 400nits, 2400×1600 and all-around fantastic. You can check out the Pixelbook review or the Samsung Chromebook Pro or Plus review to see what we think about this panel, but the quick takeaway is: it is really great!
Input methods are looking quite solid here, as well. It will be difficult to really comment until we try them out, but you are getting a full-sized keyboard, what looks like a sizable trackpad, and an AES Wacom-powered pen. As a great bonus, the pen sheath on the side looks well placed and firm.
I’d fully expect the pen to behave much like others we’ve seen with some additional features baked in with buttons if HP goes that route. It is the main addition AES has over EMR pens on Chromebooks. We have both the Pixelbook and Samsung Chromebook Pro in the office and I like inking on both of them. I’m just glad HP gives the user a home for the pen right out of the box.
Oh yeah, they also give you the pen with the Chromebook, not as an additional purchase. Google and Apple could learn a little something there.
The port layout is mostly standard with a USB-C on each side, a microSD slot, headphone/mic jack, and front-firing speakers tuned by B&O.
Hey, I said MOSTLY standard!
The front-firing speakers could be a really exceptional add-on for this device, especially in tablet mode. Most devices this thin and light just fire those tunes out of the bottom of the device. HP has taken care to slot speakers in the bezels on the screen to provide front-firing sound at all times.
If they even sound decent, this will be a serious treat!
We listed out the internals up top, but it is worth noting that HP confirmed that the Core m3 will be the only processor on offer. They did mention an 8GB version, but no details on when or how much that will be.
The most important thing we can say about the processor is this is a 7th-gen Kaby Lake Core m3 and it is a much better processor than the 6th-gen Skylake predecessor. Benchmarks show a 23% improvement in overall performance and speed, so this device should be a great performer. Thermals are also much better with 7th-gen chips versus the 6th-gen across the board, so that’s also a bonus.
In most things, the Samsung Chromebook Pro and its Core m3 Skylake chip get along quite well. The few hiccups I see with it will likely all be undone with this 7th-gen upgrade, so performance shouldn’t be of concern.
I’d love to tell you how much it will be for the 8GB RAM upgrade, but we don’t have those details just yet. Additionally, the 32GB of internal storage looks to be their target with an expansion of up to 256GB via microSD card being the only option for storage upgrade.
Pricing and Availability
All that is great, but one of the most important factors in all this is price. We’ve listed a bunch of really great specs and features, but that all becomes a waste if the price is too high.
Thankfully, I think HP has hit a great price point here and the HP Chromebook X2 will be available from June 10, 2018 for $599. I’m sure there will be some of you who think this is too high, and we won’t debate that until we have a proper review unit on hand to really see if the build is as premium as HP is touting. If it is, I think HP has put together a very compelling package at a very reasonable price.
I know this has been a long post to debut a Chromebook, but this isn’t just any Chromebook, is it? This is what hopefully becomes the new normal for Chromebooks. Reasonably-priced premium options that look great, perform great, and feel great. I’m pulling for this device to deliver in a big way and for the competition to only heat up from here. We have plenty of similar device coming from a number of manufacturers, so we’re sitting at the edge of what should become a very interesting rest of 2018.