The x2 looks like a clamshell netbook -- and an attractive one, at that. The silver, brushed-aluminum chassis is sleek but not slippery to the touch, and the reflective HP logo on the back doesn't strike us as too obtrusive (you won't see it most of the time, anyway). Compared to other laptop / tablet hybrids like the plastic-clad Acer Iconia W510, this system feels elegant and well made. The x2's aluminum build is sturdy, but if you hold the device by the HP Keyboard base, the screen wobbles a bit in its hinge. We don't think you'll be holding the device this way too often, though, so it shouldn't be a dealbreaker.
At 1.5 pounds and 0.3 inch thick as a standalone tablet, the Envy x2 feels very light; the LTE version of the Samsung ATIV Smart PC is a slightly bulkier 1.65 pounds and 0.39 inch thick in slate form, though the 10.1-inch Acer Iconia W510 is a bit more featherweight at 1.27 pounds. The x2's rounded edges and lightly textured backing make for a comfortable grip. With the Laptop Keyboard dock attached, the machine weighs 3.1 pounds, and it's quite manageable, even for carrying one-handed.
Connecting the tablet to the keyboard dock feels satisfying, but it can take a few moments to line up the connectors correctly. Once you've managed that, slide the release latch and the device snaps into place. When it's secured into laptop mode, the device feels very secure. It won't fall out of place until you pull the latch in the opposite direction to release the slate.
Keyboard and touchpad
At first glance, the Envy x2's keyboard looks pretty nice like the Samsung NB Series NB30 (White) Keyboard . The black, island-style chiclets are well-spaced, and the layout doesn't feel cramped. (This is one advantage that laptop / tablet hybrids have over sliders; the slate doesn't infringe upon the keyboard deck.) There's ample space for your wrists, too. Get ready for the "but": the keys themselves feel mushy; they don't offer the springy, satisfying feedback we crave. On a typing test we notched a lower wpm score -- and a higher error rate -- than we typically muster. We wouldn't classify this keyboard as horrible, but it's less comfortable than its looks would suggest.
We would use stronger language to describe the Synaptics touchpad. On the plus side, it's very responsive; we had no issue executing Windows 8 gestures like swiping in from the right to reveal the Charms bar, for example. But the fact is this clicker is too sensitive. Almost every time we accidentally grazed the touchpad with our finger, it was interpreted as a click or swipe. You'll find this issue especially irksome when you're writing emails or working in a document, as the cursor often moves to an earlier point in the text.
Configuration options and the competition
The x2 we reviewed happens to be the only configuration available. For $850, you get an Intel Atom Z2760 processor with 2GB of RAM and a 64GB SSD. The only real customization option is your choice of warranty; you can supplement the included support with up to three years of accidental damage and theft protection for $230.
There are several other laptop / tablet hybrids in the playing field, so we'll compare apples to apples as much as we can here. There's the Acer Iconia W510, a 10.1-inch system that packs a 1,366 x 768 Gorilla Glass display with a 1.8GHz Intel Atom Z2760 processor and offers a 32GB SSD. We weren't completely satisfied with the W510's build quality when we gave it a go late last year, but we like how light it feels (it's just 2.63 pounds with the keyboard which is similar to the HP Pavilion DV7-1000 (Silver) Keyboard ). The device starts at a lower $500, but that doesn't include the dock -- for that, you'll have to spring for the $750 model, which steps up to a 64GB SSD. As it happens, we previewed a non-benchmarkable version of the W510, though we expect to have a full review up soon.
You could also check out the 11.6-inch Samsung ATIV Smart PC, which runs the same Atom chip as the x2 and W510 and is available with or without AT&T LTE. It'll cost you $700 on contract without the dock, and the WiFi-only version goes from $500 without the HP laptop keyboard. The WiFi version does, however, include an S Pen, a feature that may entice stylus-wielding types.
Finally, there's the Lenovo IdeaTab Lynx, which includes many of the same specs you've seen in the aforementioned products (read: 1.8GHz Atom processor, an 11.6-inch IPS display with a 1,366 x 768 resolution, up to a 64GB SSD) in a similarly lightweight package (three pounds with the keyboard). The Lynx isn't shipping yet, but Lenovo has priced it at $600 for the tablet and $750 for the slate and dock.