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HP Envy x2: Tablet and laptop meet again on a Windows 8 hybrid

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CNET – Take a tablet; add a keyboard. Turn it into a laptop. Do it with full Windows 8. This is the dream of the HP Envy x2, and the dream, it seems, of Windows 8 in general. Break down the barrier between tablets and PCs. Create progressive computing. The future is now. Well, the future was also over four months ago, when HP first started showing off the Envy x2 in public, including at CNET.

We marveled then that the device was well-built, comfortable to hold, and, when you think about it, pretty shockingly practical. After all, theoretically, this is the best of both worlds: a laptop and a tablet in one. This is what I dreamed about going back to the teased-but-never-real Lenovo U1 Hybrid three years ago.

The Envy x2 is finally available, and we’ve got our review unit here at CNET. But, can it rise above our previous concerns? As Eric Franklin said back in August, “A lot of the Envy x2′s success will rest on what Microsoft does with Surface, especially its price. Right now I can’t see the Envy x2 costing less than $1,000, which would make it a direct competitor to the Macbook Air. From what I’ve seen it would be a worthy competitor, but is anyone ready to pay more than $1,000 for a tablet?”

Slide a little tab, and the whole upper lid does, indeed, undock and becomes its own multi-touch tablet. But, at $849, it’s more expensive than most ultraportable laptops and tablets…and far more expensive than those little, non-touch, non-detachable-screened 11-inchers of old. You’re paying for style, and also for that clever split-function feature. And the concern about the x2 versus the MacBook Air, or x2 versus the Surface Pro, still stands.

(Credit: Sarah Tew/CNET)
 

Style vs. substance

Depending on your perspective, you’ll either love what HP’s trying to do with the Envy x2, or you’ll hate it. But, it’s hardly the only innovator: detachable-screen laptop/tablet hybrids have been kicking around in a similar form across several manufacturers, including Acer, Lenovo, and Samsung. It’s an official mini-trend in Windows 8 launch PCs.

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