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HP Chromebook X2 11 review: Plays hard, but can't work hard

HP did a great job here with everything but the price and marketing.

HP turned a number of heads when it first announced the HP Chromebook X2 11. This was our first premium Chrome tablet since the Google Pixel Slate back in 2018, and it looked much more polished. Unlike the Pixel Slate, it came with the kickstand and keyboard in the box, and unlike the Lenovo Chromebook Duet, the keyboard would actually magnetize to the tablet when it was closed for easier carrying and better protection of the screen.

However, the other reason for that head-turning was the starting price attached to the X2 11: $600. That's higher than some of the best Chromebooks on the market, including many powerful laptops like the ASUS Chromebook Flip 536. People expect a lot from tablets priced that high — that's getting into iPad Pro and Surface Pro territory — but the HP Chromebook X2 11 can't quite deliver the power of that price bracket.

So, why am I in love with this teal tablet? Because the HP Chromebook X2 11 perfectly fills its niche — it's just not the one people were expecting.

At a glance

HP Chromebook X2 11

Bottom line: HP is finally giving us the premium compact Chrome tablet we deserve, but don't confuse luxury with high-performance. The first-gen Snapdragon 7c is designed for efficiency and mobile connectivity, and it makes for a wonderful companion device, but it won't replace your laptop full-time.

The Good

  • Excellent design
  • Bright 2K touchscreen
  • Fast fingerprint sensor
  • Front-facing B&O speakers

The Bad

  • Too expensive
  • Limited power

$599 at Best Buy $480 at HP

HP Chromebook X2 11 Price and availability

The HP Chromebook X2 11 was announced in August 2021 and sold that month in North America at a starting price of $600.

The X2 11 can be purchased with either 4 or 8GB of RAM and 64GB or 128GB of storage. LTE-capable models are available as well. The LTE slot can be used as a microSD slot instead, and on Bluetooth models, the slot is there for microSD storage.

Category HP Chromebook X2 11
Display 11-inch IPS touchscreen
2160 x 1440 px (2.1K)
400 nits brightness
Processor Snapdragon 7c compute platform
Memory 4-8GB
Storage 64-128GB eMMC
Expandable Storage ✔️
Rear Camera 8MP HP Wide Vision
Front Camera 5MP HP Wide Vision
Security Fingerprint Sensor
Connectivity Wi-Fi 5, Bluetooth 5
Ports 2x USB-C
nanoSIM/microSD slot
Audio Bang & Olufsen dual speakers
Battery 32Wh • 45W charging
Up to 11.25 hours
Features Included magnetic kickstand and keyboard
Optional magnetic USI stylus
Dimensions 9.94 x 6.96 x 0.3 inches
Weight 1.23lb (tablet)
2.27lb with keyboard and kickstand
Colors Night Teal
Shade Gray

HP Chromebook X2 11 Almost perfect hardware

HP has followed in the footsteps of Apple and Samsung with the X2 11: a cool aluminum unibody design with flat bezels. When holding the tablet without the keyboard or kickstand, it has an even weight and it's easy to balance in one hand while tapping or typing with the other. A rear webcam sits near the top right corner on the back, and the front webcam is centered when the tablet is in landscape/laptop mode. HP gave us two USB-C ports — double that of the Lenovo Duet — but it lacks a headphone jack and both of the USB-C ports are on the left side of the tablet.

HP did this so the right bezel is free to serve as a magnetic perch for its magnetic, wirelessly charging USI pen, if your model comes with one. On the bottom sits two divots and POGO pins for the included keyboard cover. The volume rocker sits dead center on the left bumper while the power button — which pulls double duty as a quick and very consistent fingerprint sensor — sits on the top-left edge of the tablet.

This is the keyboard cover the Lenovo Duet should've had.

The HP keyboard feels about five times better than the Lenovo Duet. The keys don't feel quite as cramped and the rear lip of the keyboard magnetizes to the screen, which creates a better viewing angle and ensures the keyboard won't flop about so much when sitting in your lap or on the couch. In fact, the whole keyboard magnetizes to the screen when you have it closed, keeping it safe from scratches and debris — though it also transfers any oils from your fingers to the touchscreen, where they can eat away at the screen's coating over time. So give the keyboard a regular wipedown. After all, the screen is the best part of the HP Chromebook X2 11.

The 11-inch display HP is using here makes it big enough to reasonably use for light work instead of just emails, but the 3:2 aspect ratio still keeps it compact enough that it'll fit in most tablet sleeves or tablet slots in your backpack or purse. This is the first tablet to fit perfectly in the old iPad tablet slot in my Dakine crossbody, and it's light enough to easily throw in my purse and go spend a Sunday morning reading outside Cinderella Castle on a beautiful 72-degree October morning. I could even keep reading in full sun as the sun rose and took away my shade, because the screen has 400 nits of brightness.

Full sun? No problem!

Matching that stellar 400-nit brightness is a resolution of 2160 x 1440, slightly above 2K. Now, do you really need 2K resolution on an 11-inch tablet? Probably not, but it lets webcomics, e-books, and, of course, videos absolutely pop. I got lost for hours thumbing through old Batman volumes and streaming half a season of the Witcher before I realized what time it was. The speakers here are front-facing, and they're great for impromptu movie marathons in hotel rooms or car trips. If you need headphones, they'll need to be Bluetooth or attached to a 3.5mm-to-USB-C adapter.

While you won't get the advertised 11 hours battery life using the X2 11 in full sun, I still got about six on full brightness and 8-10 hours on regular brightness with mixed use. If there's one thing Qualcomm chipsets are good at, it's squeezing every drop out of your battery life it can. When it's time to charge, you get the full 45W Power Delivery charging every other Chromebook does — no piddly 18W charging like the Lenovo Duet. If you run it dead, you can get back to 50% in 30 minutes, but a full charge-up will still take over an hour, not that you'll need to do that often; I usually had the tablet last 1.5-2 days of casual use.

The magnetic kickstand doesn't have quite as wide a range of angles as Lenovo, but it's still steady and stable. I had it pop off a few times when I tried holding the tablet up with the kickstand as a grip point, but that's not what the kickstand is designed for, anyway. The Night Teal color on the X2 11 is absolutely beautiful, and I want a matching phone and shoulder holster, please. The coating on both the kickstand and the keyboard feels wonderful in the hand, though I wish the kickstand was a teeny bit bigger so the metal hinge wouldn't stick out and make it teeter-totter when it's flat on its back. It'll lay perfectly flat on the keyboard side, though, so it's only a minor flaw.

HP Chromebook X2 11 Processor promises meet reality

When you look at $600-$700 tablets, you expect flawless performance and enough raw power to work full-time. The i3-powered Surface Go is in this range, as are base models of the new M1-powered iPad Pro. The processor inside the HP Chromebook X2 11, the Snapdragon 7c compute platform, is in a different weight class. Designed for budget Windows laptops, the Snapdragon 7c is now two years old, and it was designed specifically with Windows in mind. I used the first 7c-powered Chromebook, the Acer Chromebook Spin 513, where I found it to be fine for light browsing and casual Android games, but it couldn't stand up to full-time work.

The HP Chromebook X2 11 is the exact same way: it's a lightweight that's fine for play, but it lags down during any heavy work.

Most of us equate Snapdragon with the ultra-fast chipsets powering our phones, and it's easy for someone to assume it's the same for tablets, but it's just not the case here. Don't get me wrong, casual web browsing and games like my beloved Freecell work just fine and dandy on the X2 11. But you won't want to go above ten tabs, and you certainly won't want to do much more than emails and some light research on here.

Launched earlier this year, the Snapdragon 7c Gen 2 was designed with Windows and Chrome OS computers in mind, featuring a big bump in battery life, a new audio stack, and improvements for video calling. The first Chromebook powered by it launches this month in another Chromebook tablet: the Lenovo Duet 5. The HP X2 has likely been in development all year (if not more), but I do wish that Qualcomm had worked more closely with HP so that they could launch the X2 11 with a 2021 chip rather than a 2019 one.

That said, I've loved using the X2 11 on the weekends, even with the limitations of the 7c Gen 1. I can curl up for hours and hours, reading, flicking through social media, and trying to reach the next Grandmaster tier in Microsoft Solitaire. Between that and the 400 nits of brightness, this is my favorite tablet ever, improving on the few shortcomings of last year's Lenovo Duet.

HP Chromebook X2 11 Competition

The HP's Chromebook-based competition is a bit sparse at the moment, and HP's pricing makes it hard to compare to its current contemporaries. It feels better and performs better than last year's Lenovo Chromebook Duet, but the Duet is half the price at $300 — and it's been regularly dropping to $250-$220 throughout the year. The Duet's keyboard doesn't magnetize to the Duet's screen, and it's a smaller 10.1-inch 1080p screen.

The newer Lenovo Chromebook Duet is starting to go on sale, but that's a 13.3-inch Chrome tablet and the only way it competes with the compact HP X2 11 is that the Lenovo has the second-gen Snapdragon 7c.

The new Microsoft Surface Go 3 could be a competitor depending on the configuration, but because it doesn't come with the Surface Keyboard Go in the box, that's an extra $100-$130 bucks you'll need to spend, which quickly makes the Go 3 just as expensive as the HP Chromebook X2 11, if not more so. The same argument holds for the new iPad Mini 6: the base configuration can be had for $500, but it doesn't come with a keyboard — or a Smart Connector for a polished and properly-fitting Apple keyboard cover — so you'll need to spend more on a less polished typing experience.

HP Chromebook X2 11 Should you buy it?

You should buy this if ...

  • You want a Chromebook you can use outdoors
  • You're seeking a spare computer or tertiary tablet
  • You want a tablet with eight years of security updates
  • You want a stylish and suave Chrome OS tablet

You should not buy this if ...

  • You need it for full-time work
  • Your budget is limited
  • You intend to give it to a child

The HP Chromebook X2 11 could steal the Duet's throne as the best Chrome OS tablet once it gets more regular discounts that put it in the $450-$350 range. It's the first Chrome OS tablet that I actually want to throw in my purse and run off to Epcot for an afternoon of reading and light gaming while I relax on Katsura's wraparound porch. The level of care taken with the details and the hardware is sublime.

4 out of 5

Many of my fellow reviewers — and many users — have soured on the HP Chromebook X2 11 because they expected it to be a powerhouse at $600. The Snapdragon 7c compute platform excels at casual computing and content consumption, not full-time work, and as a companion device to supplement your home desktop or your big, heavy 17-inch laptop, the HP Chromebook X2 11 is a fantastic device that just needs some fantastical price cuts to help it match the quality and value it holds.

Ready for a deal

HP Chromebook X2 11

$599 at Best Buy $480 at HP

Excellent design, overinflated price

HP finally gives us the premium compact Chrome tablet we deserve, but don't confuse luxury and high-performance. The first-gen Snapdragon 7c is designed for efficiency and mobile connectivity, and it makes for a wonderful companion device, but it won't replace your laptop full-time.

Source: androidcentral

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