This morning, HP announced a new Surface Pro rival for businesses: The HP Pro x2 is a detachable PC that offers the flexibility of both tablet and laptop form factors.
This kind of device is becoming fairly common, and as an x2-branded PC, the Pro x2 is of course a business-focused revision of last year’s Spectre x2, which offered a few interesting advantages over Surface Pro 4. Plus a few compromises in the form of an Intel Core m processor and a kickstand with less range than Microsoft’s offering.
HP sort of addresses those concerns with the new Pro x2—this device provides 165 degrees of screen angle possibilities, for example, and includes newer Y-class Intel processors—and it also offers a few improvements I never considered. The back of the keyboard cover is now wipeable, and no longer covered in a non-cleanable cloth material. And there’s a real pen loop (yay!), integrated at the factory for maximum strength.
At a high level, the HP Pro x2 addresses a real need: With more and more millennials coming into the workforce, HP is seeing more demand for “blended” PCs that work well for both work and personal needs, and in the disparate working environments that are becoming more common these days. Unlike with last year’s x2 products, HP no longer promotes the notion of “tablet first,” however, as the Windows 10 PC market has never really moved in that direction. Instead, this new x2 is designed to reduce the travel workload—it’s a PC and a tablet—and, because it’s a business device, it features all the manageability and security functionality that those customers demand.
From a form factor perspective, the Pro x2 is familiar: It’s a Surface Pro clone with a handsome and industrial magnesium design that is 25 percent thinner than the previous version while being 27 percent lighter and offering twice the battery life: HP now claims up to 10 hours here, which sounds actually usable. (HP told me privately that the real-world battery life is actually even better than that, and can reach up to 11 hours.)
Like previous x2’s, the Pro x2 is based on USB-C for both power and connectivity, and it also offers a legacy USB (A) port for compatibility and because they’re not Apple. Like the Spectre x2 before it, this x2 also sports integrated global 4G LTE capabilities as well.
The kickstand, as noted, is improved over the previous version and now offers what HP claims is 165 degrees of tilt. That’s a big deal, because Microsoft claims 150 degrees on Surface Pro 4, and the previous HP products couldn’t get anywhere close to that. It’s “lapable” now, HP says. I know. I’m sorry.
The Pro x2 also works with HP’s active pen, and HP is bundling an improved version of that peripheral in the box. The new pen has a launch button on the top (yes, like Surface Pen) so you have one-press access to your favorite pen app. And the device itself sports improved palm rejection.
HP also bundles a new keyboard cover with the device, another advantage over Surface Pro 4. This device gets a new version of the business-focused keyboard cover, called the Collaboration Keyboard. It offers keys specific to Skype for Business, which is handy, and is a real hardware keyboard, like last year’s versions. I found the Spectre x2 keyboard to be better than Microsoft’s keyboard cover.
HP is also including other business features with the device, including an integrated smart card reader, a touch fingerprint sensor for Windows Hello, and NFC for secure payments. There are a variety of peripherals available as well, including a USB-C-based dock and a travel hub.
The HP Pro x2 starts at $979 in the US, so it significantly undercuts the Surface Pro 4 a bit, especially when you factor in the keyboard. For that configuration, you get an m3-class Intel Core processor, 4 GB of RAM, and 128 GB of SSD storage. Again, the keyboard and pen are included.