HP Chromebook x2 First Impressions

Posted on October 2, 2021 by Paul Thurrott in Mobile, Chromebook, Chrome OS with 13 Comments

Based on the Qualcomm Snapdragon 7c, the HP Chromebook x2 11 is an 11-inch detachable tablet for students and other consumers. It comes complete with a two-piece typing cover and a rechargeable smartpen, and it starts at about $680.

I was immediately struck by the x2’s small size. It’s about the same size as my iPad Air and any Surface Go, and provides the same kind of hybrid computing experience, but with ChromeOS instead of iPadOS or Windows. Like those devices, it can be used as a tablet, with touch and smartpen interactions. Or it can work as a productivity device with its typing cover.

Surface Go 2 (top), iPad Air (middle), HP Chromebook x2 (bottom)

That the HP undercuts the price of an iPad Air won’t surprise anybody: Apple’s expensive tablet starts at $599 for a version with 64 GB of storage and you’ll have to front another $428 for a Magic Keyboard and  Apple Pencil (Gen 2), for a total of about $1030 (!). But the x2 also compares favorably with Surface Go 3: the Core i3 version costs $630 and then you’ll need to front another $100 to $130 for a Type Cover and $100 for a Surface Pen, for a total of at least $830. Suddenly, that $680 asking price looks pretty reasonable.

Surface Go 2 (top), iPad Air (middle), HP Chromebook x2 (bottom)

That’s especially true when you examine the specifications: the Snapdragon 7c is a bit of an unknown right now in the PC space, but it runs ChromeOS just fine. And the x2 also ships with 8 GB of RAM and 128 GB of eMMC storage, and its 11-inch IPS display panel offers a perfect 3:2 aspect ratio, a 2K+ resolution (2160 x 1440), and 400 nits of brightness. It has an integrated fingerprint reader on its edge, similar to the setup on the iPad Air, two USB-C ports, a microSD card reader, Wi-Fi 5 and Bluetooth 5, and, optionally, 4G/LTE.

For AV, HP provides a 5 MP webcam with integrated dual array digital microphones on the front and an 8 MP camera with integrated dual array digital microphones on the back. There are also dual stereo speakers with, yes, Bang & Olufsen tuning.

From a design perspective, the Chromebook x2 is certainly familiar-looking with its CNC aluminum body, sort of a cross between the Surface Pro/Go—especially with its typing cover attached—-and the iPad Air.

But the way the typing cover attaches is unique, as there are two pieces, a back cover that magnetically attaches and the typing cover itself.

The back cover provides the kickstand, which offers 170 degrees of angle customization.

And the typing cover works like that for Surface Go, with the standard two typing angles thanks to the use of even more magnets. The flat orientation is a bit wobbly but will probably be fine with some use.

HP also provides yet another magnet so that you can attach its bundled Wireless Rechargeable USI Pen to the side in transit. The overall effect is like that of a book, and it would look natural at home, school, or work.

HP claims up to 11 hours of battery life, citing the combination of the Snapdragon 7c and Chrome OS for this efficiency. And it’s completely silent, with no fans.

I’m curious about Android app compatibility and performance, and whether this tablet could possibly replace my iPad Air, which I use exclusively for consumption activities like reading (news, feeds, books) and, when traveling, watching videos. And I feel like it would be an interesting option for Android smartphone users who occasionally need a larger display, plus a keyboard and mouse (or, in this case, trackpad).

More soon.

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Comments (13)

13 responses to “HP Chromebook x2 First Impressions”

  1. djross95

    It's already been on sale for $200 off ($399) at Best Buy. At that price it's a steal.

    • ringofvoid

      Exactly! With the included USI pen & detachable keyboard this is a good value for $400. The snapdragon 7c is definitely a bit underpowered compared to an iPad or Surface, but you're not going to get the tablet+keyboard+pen for $400 with those.

      • CajunMoses

        The Snapdragon 7c is probably more than adequate for a Chromebook. Web apps, PWAs, and, worst case, Android apps don't need a Core i9.

        • sgbassett

          I can say it is noticeably faster than my Lenovo Chromebook Duet. Is it the Snapdragon over the Duet's Mediatek? Or is it the 8 GB of RAM over the Duet's 4 GB? Not sure. I just know it is more responsive and plenty fast for ChromeOS, the Android apps I am running, and even LibreOffice in Linux.

  2. chaoticwhizz

    I would definitely like to know how this will run GUI apps in a Linux container but I probably won't replacing my current Chromebook for at least another year.

  3. sgbassett

    I picked one up during the Best Buy sale (it was $379.99) and used it over the last week. It performs much better than my Lenovo Chromebook Duet (now listed on Ebay). The keyboard is better than the Duet's, and the screen aspect ratio (3:2) is much more to my liking. I enable Linux and installed a few essentials like LibreOffice and Audacity. Both run fine. And I figured out how to install my favorite third-party fonts (such as Charter) in Linux to use with LibreOffice Writer.

    I use an Android phone, so as Paul suggested, it has been great to deal with text messages on the larger keyboard than thumb or swipe typing on the phone. I've also installed all the Android apps I commonly use on my phone. All seem to run without a problem so far.

    I'm not sure I would have paid full price for this device. But at the sale price, it meets nearly all my needs for a small laptop/tablet when I don't want to bring along my larger Windows laptop (ThinkPad T490).

  4. hrlngrv

    Tangent: is the Surface Go 2 the only 11" Windows alternative? I ask because I just checked Amazon, and there don't seem to be many others.

    I suppose another way to ask this is who in their right mind would dream of using Windows on a screen smaller than 13"? A very different question to consider is when will Chrome OS become the default non-Apple tablet OS, relegating Android to phones exclusively.

    • SvenJ

      Surface Go 3 ;). Windows is actually quite usable on a Go, if you temper your expectations. I don't mean in performance, but rather in real estate. I don't have any problems with Mail, Web, Word, etc. If you start wanting to do spreadsheets you are going to be scrolling a bit depending on the spreadsheet. Most things really aren't that bad at that size. I've had 9" (and 7") Windows devices in the past and they get tough to use.

    • VancouverNinja

      I will let you know if you are right after our Gos arrive this week. I have a feeling that Windows 11 will be a better experience for me on a tablet than iOS.

  5. bettyblue

    Chrome OS, something worse than Windows 11.

  6. harrymyhre

    How is the response time on that display? How does it compare to the touch sensitivity if the iPad air?

    With a tablet, that's what it's all about. If there is lag, then the customer won't like it b

  7. SvenJ

    'and you’ll have to front another $428 for a Magic Keyboard and Apple Pencil (Gen 2)'. You actually don't. iPads and iPADOS actually is completely functional without a keyboard/mouse/stylus. Always has been. If you want a keyboard though, you certainly don't have to get the Magic Keyboard @ $299, you can get a folio keyboard which is more comparable to the keyboards on the Go and HP for $179 (or less depending on your device.

    • solomonrex

      It's just a like-for-like price comparison, we're all well aware that you can purchase other accessories.