HP Chromebook x2 11 review: A tough value proposition
When HP unveiled the Chromebook x2 11, there was a considerable amount of excitement in the Chrome OS community. It’s been quite awhile since we’ve seen a Chrome tablet with a high-resolution display, premium build, and a usable aspect ratio. Of course, there were still plenty of questions about the internals. The HP Chromebook x2 11 runs the Snapdragon 7c chip inside, which was less than impressive in my review of the Acer Chromebook Spin 513. Still, I had some hope that perhaps HP could pull off some software optimization to improve the overall performance on this beautiful tablet. So, is the best Chrome OS tablet you can buy? The answer is a bit complicated and depends on when and where you buy it.
One of the trickiest propositions in evaluating the HP Chromebook x2 11 is the price. While the MSRP from HP sits at $599 for the 8GB/64GB variant, Best Buy has frequently lowered that model to $399 on their website. There are also some other strange choices to include or not include the USI pen in certain models. Both of these things change the value on offer throughout the lineup. Throughout this review I will offer some insight on where each aspect of the device fits on that value spectrum. Regardless, this is definitely the best HP Chrome tablet you can find. This is our HP Chromebook x2 11 review.
|Specification||HP Chromebook x2 11|
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|RAM & Storage|
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About this review: I received the 8GB/64GB model from HP for review. I’ve used this as my primary Chromebook for a little over two weeks. Throughout that trial period I used it as my primary work device for writing articles, drafting lecture notes, and light video editing for my YouTube channel.
Build and design
The build and overall design of the HP Chromebook x2 11 is definitely one of its most appealing aspects. If you asked me six months ago, I would’ve told you the original Chromebook Duet is the best Chrome tablet you can buy. The build on that particular device was anything but premium. Now, if you’re looking for a Chrome tablet, HP has a beautifully crafted option with solid aluminum frame that looks and feels durable. Given, this isn’t a revolutionary design by any means, but in a space starved for attractive tablets, it’s heads and shoulders above the competition.
Bezels on the tablet are slim enough to make the front of the display pleasing to the eye. The back is a matte silver, which makes the tablet easier to grip when you’re using it as a media consumption or gaming device. The stand cover is also a nice blue/teal color, which is actually something you can choose when purchasing the tablet. In addition, the magnets on that stand are incredibly strong. If you need a study stand for watching movies or even propping the tablet up while writing down a few notes, this will do the job with no issue.
In terms of durability, the tablet feels sturdy and doesn’t have a ton of flex. I didn’t drop the device while reviewing it, but I would imagine it could survive a short drop onto a variety of surfaces. The placement of the power button isn’t exactly my favorite as it’s a bit high up when using in portrait mode. I would imagine most people might use it more in landscape, but I use my tablet quite a bit for notes, so this was something of a concern during my use. This tablet also lacks a headphone jack, which isn’t a big deal for everyone, but definitely worth mentioning. Other than that, I didn’t have any huge complaints when it comes to the build quality or overall layout on this tablet. HP did a solid job providing a more premium built option in the Chrome OS tablet category.
Keyboard and touchpad
When it comes to a Chrome OS convertible device like this, I don’t expect a whole lot out of the keyboard and touchpad. This is primarily because you’re guaranteed that these components are going to have some mushiness to them, not ideal for productivity. The good news is that the HP Chromebook x2 11 keyboard is generally better than most Chrome OS detachable keyboards, including the popular Lenovo Chromebook Duet.
While it’s definitely not the best keyboard ever, the HP Chromebook x2 11 keyboard attachment is less cramped than most detachable keyboards. The key travel is also decent and it’s not completely uncomfortable to hammer out a longer email or short blog post using this device when it’s sitting on a desk. There’s definitely something to be said for the fact you can keep the keyboard attached to the device when closed. This is something you couldn’t do with the original Lenovo Chromebook Duet, which made it quite cumbersome to carry around the tablet and keyboard separately. Indeed, this also protects the front display of your tablet when you’re carrying it around, a definite benefit.
That being said, the relative flimsiness of this keyboard does create considerable issues when using it on your lap. It’s quite frustrating to use for long periods of time this way, especially since merely resting your palm on the keyboard can cause false mouse clicks in this orientation. This really isn’t something that is easy to fix. By their very nature, detachable keyboards need to be relatively slim, which means tons of flex that cause such instability concerns. If you want a Chromebook you can use on your lap and enjoy that experience, this is definitely not the one for you.
Display and pen support
The display on the HP Chromebook x2 11 is, without a doubt, it’s most impressive feature. You get an 11 inch 2160 x 1440 IPS panel, which makes for a very workable 3;2 aspect ratio, if you’re looking to use this for actual work. The brightness is also quite solid at 400 nits, so you can even work outside, or just stream some Netflix in the sun. Viewing angles are generally excellent and all forms of media absolutely jump off this display with vivid colors and deep blacks. If you’re primarily looking for a media consumption tablet, that’s one place where the HP Chromebook x2 11 really shines.
Of course, you’ll need excellent speakers if you’re going to consume tons of media. HP has you covered there as well. The B&O branded speakers are front-facing and plenty loud and clear to enjoy streaming media and games without the need for headphones.
When I received the HP Chromebook x2 11, I was incredibly excited to test the included USI pen. I already made a short review of Google’s new Cursive PWA for Chromebooks, but the Chromebook x2 11 was supposedly optimize to work with the app. It is worth noting again, that only certain models of the tablet include the USI pen for no additional cost. For models sold directly from HP, you may not get the USI pen, in which case it costs $60 to purchase separately.
I’m happy to report the experience of using Cursive with HP USI pen on this tablet is excellent. In general, I had quite a few less false touches caused by resting my wrist on the display. This is something I experience quite a bit when testing Cursive on my ASUS Chromebook CX9 and Galaxy Chromebook 2. It seems that HP work with Google on some software magic, or I could just be angling my wrist different on this smaller screen. Either way, this tablet makes for a great writing companion and if you take a lot of notes you’ll likely enjoy it for that purpose.
Performance and battery life
That brings us to performance. My experience with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 7c was less than ideal when I reviewed the Acer Chromebook Spin 513. Unfortunately, the same can be said for 7c inside the HP Chromebook x2 11. Not only does it suffer from the same hiccups in general UI navigation and Android apps, it also has significantly more annoying issues due to the nature of a tablet interface. One key example is rotating from portrait to landscape, which is incredibly slow and laggy on this tablet. If you rotate an iPad from portrait to landscape, it’s nearly instantaneous. That’s definitely not the case on the HP Chromebook x2 11 and it can be frustrating at times.
If you need to accomplish serious work or do any sort of multi-tasking, this is not the best device at this price point. Even at the sale price of $399, you can find better Chromebooks for productivity tasks and with better general performance. Gaming is another application where I would not recommend the HP Chromebook x2 11. With Android games, you won’t be able to run anything on maximum settings and still enjoy gameplay.
Battery life is pretty solid overall, especially for the media consumption tasks the Chromebook x2 11 excels at. I was able to squeeze out nearly 8 hours when browsing social media, watching Youtube/Netflix, and typing up some short articles for XDA. You probably won’t be able to stretch that to HP’s suggested 11 hours of battery life, but I think 8 hours is a pretty solid amount for a media tablet. If you use this in direct sunlight or crank it up to max brightness indoors, you can bank on closer to 6 hours on a single charge.
Conclusion: Should you buy it?
It’s tough to say whether the HP Chromebook x2 11 is a great value, since it depends on what price you buy it at. At the sale price of $399 that we’ve seen at Best Buy recently, this is a solid media consumption device with a beautiful display, solid battery life, and nice speakers. On the other hand, for HP’s recommended MSRP of $599, I’d expect quite a bit more out of this device. Considering that you can’t get much work done on it or play interesting games, I wouldn’t pay $599 for this tablet. There are several other great Chromebooks at that price point, while they aren’t all tablets, there are plenty of 2-in-1 offerings.
If you’re looking for my recommendation for a workhorse Chromebook at $599, I would suggest the Acer Chromebook Spin 713. That Chromebook has 2-in-1 capability, a beautiful screen, and enough processing power to accomplish more work than the HP Chromebook x2 11. For those of you that just need a media tablet or note-taking device that isn’t your primary device, grab the HP Chromebook x2 11 on sale and you’ll absolutely love it.