HP jumps on Chrome OS tablet bandwagon with new Chromebook x2

Acer ushered in the “Chromebook tablet” era with its Chromebook Tab 10 slab last month, and HP wasted no time entering the new space. The company announced the Chromebook x2, a Chrome OS detachable with a keyboard and Wacom AES stylus that isn’t meant to be confined to the classroom.

While Acer’s tablet is meant for education and commercial customers, HP’s Chromebook x2 was made with regular customers in mind, particularly those who are attracted to the versatility and efficiency of Chrome OS.

The Chromebook x2’s specs immediately differentiate it from Acer’s device: it runs on a 7th-gen Y-series Intel processor, 4GB of RAM (and supports up to 8GB), and 32GB of storage that can be expanded to 256GB through the microSD card slot. Designed with a similar size to HP’s other “x2” detatchables, the Chromebook x2 has a 12.3-inch 2400×1600 IPS display that supports touch and pen input, and it has a 5MP WideVision camera and a 13MP rear-facing camera. It has two USB Type-C ports in addition to the microSD card slot and the standard audio in/out jack, and its 48Wh (watt-hour) battery is estimated to last 10.5 hours on a single charge.

Those higher-end internals place the Chromebook x2 in a different category than Acer’s education-focused tablet, and that’s exactly what HP wants. The company wants to appeal to users who are warming up to the idea of using Chrome OS as their primary PC operating system. While the Y-series processor makes the Chromebook x2 more powerful than a typical tablet or Chromebook laptop, it’s also a good choice for striking a performance and battery life balance that Chrome OS users want. With the ability to run Chrome OS and Android apps, this is the kind of device HP hopes users have no qualms about taking with them wherever they go to complete all kinds of tasks in a speedy manner and without the worry that the device will die on them midday.

While you can use the Chromebook x2 as a tablet, it comes with a keyboard that HP designed to be sturdier than most detachable keyboard stands. The magnetic hinge attaches easily to the device and will roll slightly to prop up the keyboard when you want to use it on your lap or on a table. HP claims this keyboard is easier to use on your lap because it has a thin layer of metal running through it, making it more rigid and stable than its competitors. I’m always wary about using detachables on my lap since I rarely have a good experience doing so, but I’d have to test out the Chromebook x2 to know if HP has truly innovated in this area.

There are plenty of reasons why Chrome OS excels in the education- and budget-PC markets. At $599, the Chromebook x2 is still fairly “budget,” but it’s on the higher end of the Chrome OS devices available in terms of price. It’s unclear how much of a market there is for a device like the Chromebook x2 with its higher-end internals, QHD display, and long battery life. Those are all good things, of course, but it’s hard to say how many users will be willing to buy a more premium Chrome OS detachable considering the limitations of the operating system (even with Android app compatibility).

The HP Chromebook x2 will be available soon starting at $599.

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