HP Chromebook x2 (2021): A Clever Combination
PC Magazine|December 2021
The best Chrome OS detachable of 2018 returns strong B
ERIC GREVSTAD

So you’re in the market for a detachable 2-in-1—a tablet you can use either by itself or with a keyboard and stylus? The Apple 10.9-inch iPad Air is a good choice—in fact, a PCMag Editors’ Choice winner—at $599. But if you’re willing to think different, HP’s 11-inch Chromebook x2 costs the same—including twice the memory as well as the keyboard and pen that Apple will charge you an extra $428 for. Tablet shoppers rarely consider Chromebooks, but the HP x2 favors the bold. It doesn’t perform as well as comparably priced Chromebook laptops (and we still consider our Editors’ Choice favorite, the Lenovo Chromebook Duet, a better value among Chromebook detachables), but it fills a nifty niche.

ALL NEW FOR 2021

We reviewed the first HP Chromebook x2—a 12.3-inch tablet with an Intel Core m3 chip—in September 2018. This year’s model has an 11-inch Gorilla Glass touch screen with a 3:2 aspect ratio (2,160-by-1,440-pixel resolution), backed by an eight-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 7c processor. At $599, our test unit is a Best Buy configuration with 8GB of RAM, 64GB of eMMC flash storage, and the snap-on keyboard and rechargeable pen. HP.com offers a $679.99 model without the pen ($48.99) but with 128GB of storage and 4G LTE mobile broadband.

The HP isn’t the only Chrome OS tablet-and-keyboard combo; we’ve given two thumbs up to the 10.1-inch Lenovo Chromebook Duet and one to the 10.5-inch Asus Chromebook Detachable CM3. Windows is another option; the Microsoft Surface Go 3 is a 10.5inch tablet that costs $399.99 with a Pentium Gold CPU or $629.99 with a Core i3, plus at least $166 for a keyboard and pen.

The Chromebook x2 comes in three pieces. The CNC machined aluminum tablet measures 0.3 by 9.9 by 7 inches and weighs 1.23 pounds, roughly the same as the Surface Go 3 and a few ounces heavier than the 1-pound iPad Air. Its power button doubles as a fingerprint reader on top; a magnet that holds and recharges the 5.5-inch Universal Stylus Initiative pen is on the right edge; and a volume rocker, two USB-C ports, and a tray (removed with a bent paper clip) for either a nano SIM or microSD card are on the left. The AC adapter plugs into a USB-C port. Unfortunately, there’s no audio or headphone jack.

The other two pieces are in Night Teal or Shade Gray polyurethane-coated fabric and add another 1.04 pounds of weight. The first is a back cover with a hole for the rear-facing camera lens and a kickstand to prop the tablet up in laptop mode. The second is a nonbacklit keyboard cover that adheres to the bottom edge and whose folding hinge alternately provides a slight tilt for typing and covers the screen side for carrying.

HP Chromebook x2 (2021)

PROS

Affordable price includes pen and keyboard cover. Available 4G mobile broadband.

CONS

Tepid performance. No headphone jack. Wi-Fi 5, not 6 or 6E.

BOTTOM LINE

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