HP Unveils Its Answer to Surface Book 2

Posted on October 18, 2017 by Paul Thurrott in Hardware, Windows 10 with 24 Comments

HP Unveils Its Answer to Surface Book 2

Well, that didn’t take long. HP today announced its ZBook 2, which the firm touts as the world’s first detachable workstation. But what this really is, I think, is an interesting answer to the Surface Book 2, and to the limitations of Microsoft’s laptop.

So interesting timing, that.

It’s not clear if HP knew that Microsoft was going to announce Surface Book 2 this month—my sources say no—but it is pretty clear that both devices target the same audience: creatives. It’s also clear, looking more closely at both devices, that HP may have an edge with that very audience. In fact, it is not coincidental that HP launched the ZBook 2 at Adobe’s Max Conference today. Whereas Microsoft announced Surface Book 2 virtually. The other day.

To be clear, I really like Surface Book. But I admit that there are some design curiosities—if not outright mistakes—that make this device less than perfect for the creative audience it targets. The key one being that the full power of the device is not available to it if you remove the screen from the keyboard: The GPU is in the keyboard. Likewise, you lose the keyboard and the touchpad, as there’s no way to use that keyboard base wirelessly.

HP addresses these and other Surface Book 2 issues in the ZBook 2. Like Surface Book 2, the ZBook 2 provides (up to) quad-core 8th generation Core processors (like Surface Book 2, it can be configured with much less capable dual-core chips), NVIDIA Quadro M620 graphics with up to 2 GB of RAM, and up to 32 GB of system RAM (compared to 16 for Surface Book 2), and speedy SSDs up to 2 TB (compared to 1 TB for Surface Book 2). And it features a high DPI 14-inch IPS or “Dreamcolor” display.

But the big deal here, I guess, is that all the PC guts are in the tablet part of the PC. So you don’t lose any functionality if you detach the keyboard. It’s large and heavy, for sure, but it supports an active pen with tilt and 4096 levels of pressure sensitivity. The battery is rated at up to 10 hours.

As important to creatives, HP is really turning it up a notch with deep Adobe integration: It features customizable buttons that are preprogrammed with shortcuts for Adobe Creative Cloud applications like Photoshop. The cost is $1799 and up.

I saw this device a few weeks back at an HP briefing, but I can’t claim to have spent too much time with it. I’m not the target market, of course. But I have to wonder about the viability of this device versus the Surface Book 2 for working creatives. That is, the Surface Book 2 looks great for business users and even gamers. But it seems like HP may be onto something when it comes to creatives.


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