Review: HP Elite x2 1012 G1

Microsoft’s Surface Pro 4 isn’t the only hybrid in town with a fabric keyboard, and the Elite x2 is showing that HP can provide a well made machine that packs in value to boot.

Specs

Computers have changed a lot over the past few years, and while not long ago you might have bought a laptop or a tablet or even both, now you can get both under the one roof.

HP’s Elite x2 borrows that template, and it also borrows from another machine HP has already unleashed upon the world, merging the two for a computer designed for business, and for people who expect high quality gear to stay high quality.

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The Elite x2 arrives in a variety of model options, but for the most part you’ll find one of the Intel sixth-generation “Skylake” Core “m” processors (m3, m5, or m7) paired with either 4 or 8GB RAM.

Microsoft’s Windows 10 Pro is equipped on the Elite x2 out of the box, and there’s a storage amount of either 128GB or 256GB solid-state storage using M2 connections.

Connections for the Elite x2 look to be reasonably solid, with 802.11a/b/g/n/ac WiFi, Bluetooth 4.2, and even the option for 4G LTE using a Qualcomm chipset if needed, making it a highly capable mobile device if spec’d out.

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There are less wired connections, though, with a single USB Type C connector providing USB 3.1 and Thunderbolt 3 on the right side, below a microSD slot (via pin ejectable tray), a full-size USB 3.0 port, and the standard 3.5mm headset jack. The left side hides a pin ejectable microSIM slot.

Cameras are also included — it’s a tablet, and that’s a normal tablet feature these days — with a 2 megapixel front-facing camera and a 5 megapixel rear-facing camera.

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And all of this sits under a 12 inch 1920×1280 display, providing 192 pixels per inch of clarity, not quite the 264 of the Apple iPad Pro, but still not terrible all the same. A layer of Corning’s Gorilla Glass protects the display from any unwanted damage.

Aluminium handles the rest of the body danger, with aluminium casing for the main computer chassis, with a solid metal kickstand able to provide up to 150 degrees in angles.

Buttons can be found along the left edge, with power and volume taken care of with physical buttons.

A USB Type C to HDMI adaptor can also be found in the box, as can a fabric backed backlit keyboard and a pen stylus.

Various models of the Elite x2 can be found, but our review unit was equipped with an Intel Core m5-6Y57 processor, 8GB RAM, and a 256GB solid-state drive, with a fingerprint reader and 4G LTE.

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Design

On the spec side things, it’s pretty clear the HP’s Elite x2 has quite a bit in common with its Spectre x2, and that’s intentional as they’re very similar computers, but one has been made for consumers and the other more for business.

That means the designs are quite close, too, so if you’ve eyed the Spectre x2 because it’s a little like a Surface with a rather neat feature set, you’ll probably like the Elite x2 as they’re quite close.

“Close” isn’t the same, though, because while they share practically identical bodies with aluminium frames sporting 12 inch screen sizes, some things have changed.

The specifications already suggests the ports have changed, and that’s true, with one USB Type C being switched out for a standard USB 3.0 port, handy since not everyone is using the new Type C technology. Even better, HP has included Thunderbolt 3.0 technology on this tablet, which wasn’t there on the Spectre.

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HP’s rear stand looks similar too, but again, this is different.

While the original offered a stand that popped out when a switch was released, the Elite x2 is just a simple fold-out stand with no fancy tricks except that it can take a lot of force.

In fact, this rear stand is so durable it can take a good 50 kilograms of force. We’re not sure when you’ll need to test this out — you’re not planning on sitting on the tablet while it’s standing, are you? — but it can also be replaced in case you test it too aggressively.

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And this idea of replacing parts like the stand stretches all over the design, with HP saying that it will be able to replace elements with serviceability high on the list of features for the professional grade Elite x2, something its Spectre x2 sibling couldn’t quite do.

So that all stems from the design, which is great, but is it a nice design?

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We think so, and if you like the look of the Surface computers, HP’s Elite x2 1012 G1 basically evolves from that style, with a black frame around a display and a metal casing. There’s nothing terribly complicated about the look, and as tablets have become computers hidden behind the screen, HP’s Elite x2 essentially follows that design schematic.

The bezels could be smaller, that much we will say, as these are close to an inch on each side, arriving around 2 centimetres on both the vertical and horizontal edges.

That is a relatively thick bezel, especially in this day and age, and if HP can shrink it down, it might even manage a more portable computer.

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