First Look: The HP ZBook x2
Michael Alba posted on November 30, 2017 | 1332 views
At first glance, the Zbook x2 could be mistaken for a standard one-piece notebook.
At first glance, the Zbook x2 could be mistaken for a standard one-piece notebook.
Earlier this month, we pondered whether the HP ZBook x2 might just be the most powerful detachable PC in the world. While we can’t provide a definitive answer to that question, we recently got a chance see the ZBook x2 in person—and from our initial impressions, it certainly seems worthy of the hype. 

Without reiterating all of the tech specs of the ZBook x2, it can be stated that this computer is powerful. HP built the ZBook x2 to be a mobile workstation, but it’s much more than just a beefed-up laptop. Following the trend set by Microsoft’s Surface lineup, the ZBook x2 is a laptop/tablet hybrid with a kickstand hinge, stylus and detachable keyboard. 

Not everyone is a fan of this form factor, but for the right user, having the option to switch between laptop and tablet is a killer feature. As a Surface user myself, I was impressed by the attention to detail HP put into this design. Though the x2 is essentially a Surface Pro made by HP, it improves on the concept in a few small but important ways. 

For one, unlike the soft fabric-coated keyboard of the Surface Pro, the ZBook x2’s keyboard feels like it belongs on a real laptop. It’s sturdy and comfortable to type on, but the best part is that it continues to work even when detached from the screen. You heard right: a Bluetooth connection means you can use the keyboard even in tablet mode, which is essential for those of us who frequently use keyboard shortcuts (Microsoft, if you’re reading this, it’s about time you implemented this too). 

The ZBook x2’s keyboard magnetically attaches to the base of the screen, like the Microsoft Surface Pro, with a loop on the side to holster the stylus.
The ZBook x2’s keyboard magnetically attaches to the base of the screen, like the Microsoft Surface Pro, with a loop on the side to holster the stylus.
Another small, but useful feature, of the ZBook x2 is that on either side of the screen there’s a column of user-configurable buttons. These are reminiscent of the shortcut buttons on a Wacom tablet and allow users to map common shortcuts on an application-by-application basis. 
Hardware buttons on either side of the screen allow for user-configurable shortcuts to common functions.
Hardware buttons on either side of the screen allow for user-configurable shortcuts to common functions.
The ZBook x2 also offers a better selection of ports than the Surface Pro, with two USB C ports, one USB 3.0 port and an HDMI port—compared to the Surface’s one USB 3.0 and Mini DisplayPort. 
The ZBook x2 features two USB C ports, one HDMI port and one USB 3.0 port.
The ZBook x2 features two USB C ports, one HDMI port and one USB 3.0 port.
The stylus, made with Wacom technology, feels good in the hand and writes comfortably. When not in use, it fits in a snug loop attached to the keyboard, although it would have been nice to have it magnetically attach to the side of the screen like in the Surface. Other than that, the stylus is comparable to the Surface’s with a button near the tip and an eraser on the end. 
The stylus is comfortable and comparable to that of the Surface.
The stylus is comfortable and comparable to that of the Surface.
Possibly the biggest drawback of the x2 is its weight. It comes in at 4 pounds, twice the weight of the Surface Pro, and you can feel it. While the Surface is light enough to use as a tablet for extended periods of time, the weight of the x2 means you’ll probably need to rest it on a table or your lap when in tablet mode. 
Weighing 4 pounds, the ZBook x2 is just a bit too heavy in the hand.
Weighing 4 pounds, the ZBook x2 is just a bit too heavy in the hand.
Overall, the HP ZBook x2 is an impressive take on the detachable PC, edging out the Surface Pro in its attention to user-friendly features such as the Bluetooth keyboard, customizable hardware buttons and multitude of ports. However, it can’t quite match the Surface’s slim and light aesthetic, and leans a bit closer to the laptop end of the tablet/laptop spectrum. However, this is a fair trade off if you’re looking for a detachable PC that doesn’t compromise on performance. 

To learn more about the HP ZBook x2, read The HP ZBook x2 PC: Is This the World’s Most Powerful Detachable PC?

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