The 2-in-1 generation has got us in touch with a lot of devices and the HP Slate family of products is just another addition to this ever-increasing category. There are three products in the Slate family, namely the Windows 8-sporting Slate x2 and ENVY x2 and the Android powered SlateBook x2 - which we received - that houses an NVIDIA Tegra 4 SoC. The SlateBook x2, thanks to its size, is quite reminiscent of yesteryear’s netbooks. So let us see if this is a device worth investing in.
Design and build
The tablet part and the keyboard dock each house batteries within them. The keypad is cramped and you will take some time getting used to it.
The HP SlateBook x2 is an Android 2-in-1 employing a clamshell design, where the tablet can be detached from the keyboard. This mechanism has also been seen on the Slate x2 and Envy x2, but both these run Windows 8 whereas the SlateBook x2 is targeted at those looking at an Android 4.2 OS. It is available in two colours - snow white and smoke silver. We got the snow white version and it has a plastic build on both the tablet as well as the keyboard dock. The tablet portion has a matte white finish and the design curves gradually around the edges. While the design on the rear of the keyboard dock neatly complements the top flap, you will notice four prominent rubber feet around on it which not only gives a good grip to the SlateBook x2 when it is placed on a table, but also neatly complements the black coloured edges. It measures 20.5mm when the SlateBook x2 is closed and weighs 1.27 kg. The overall build quality of the SlateBook x2 is quite good despite the plastic components used.
On opening the SlateBook x2, you have a 10.1-inch screen on the tablet which is surrounded by a good amount of bezel surrounding it. Some of you may think of such a thick bezel as a waste of screen real estate. The keypad is cramped thanks to the sub-13 inch screen size. The keys are small and are arranged in a chiclet style layout. Despite the cramped layout, the travel on the keys is quite decent. And HP also manages to make provisions for a palm rest and a single-slab trackpad which is compatible with gestures such as pinch to zoom and swiping. Using the keypad for longer durations does tend to lead to palm fatigue and it's best to stretch your palms every 10-15 minutes. For people with thicker fingers, typing fast on this keyboard will be challenge thanks to the smaller size of the keys vis-a-vis a regular keyboard. The trackpad is decent, but not as good as having separate left and right click buttons. The dedicated buttons on the rear side of the tablet for the power/standby and volume rocker do not protrude out, but they still have decent feedback.
The rear has the 2MP camera on top, volume rocker on the right and power/standby button on the left
The hinge juts out from the plane of the SlateBook x2 and raises the keypad when it is opened such that the x2 rests on the rubber feet on the hinge and those near the base of the keypad. There is a single silver coloured notch which needs to be slid to detach the tablet from the keyboard. Apart from the charging connector, which connects the battery of the keyboard dock to the tablet, there are two more rectangular holders into which the tablet fits in. If you are using the SlateBook x2 in the laptop mode on your lap, then tapping the screen may make it topple over.
Around the region where the tablet snaps on to the keypad notches, there is a speaker section which is housed in a ridge that is a millimeter lower than the plane of the screen. When the tablet is attached to the keyboard it isn’t that pronounced, but when you hold the tablet in your hands in the portrait orientation, then the ridge feels a bit strange. Also the microSD card slot and audio jack is present on the under side of the tablet.
The HP SlateBook x2 has an HDMI port and the proprietary charging port on the right hand side of the keyboard dock
The HP SlateBook x2 houses an NVIDIA Tegra 4 SoC with the quad-core processor clocked at 1.80GHz. The Tegra 4 comprises four high power Cortex A15 cores along with a companion low-power fifth core which takes over for all the lower-power operations such as background tasks, touch interaction tasks and other tasks which do not require the high powered cores to be active. This helps in saving up on precious battery life. On the graphics side you have a 72 CUDA core GPU. The tablet runs on Android 4.2.2 operating system and there was no update for Android 4.3 at the time of testing it. There is 2GB of DDR3L RAM. The disappointing part was the presence of a mere 16GB of eMMC memory of which only 12.3GB is available to the users. Thankfully you can expand the memory using a microSD card upto 32GB.
HP has a lot of its own apps such as HP ePrint, HP File Manager, HP Media Play and HP Camera
There is a 720p front facing HD camera but the rear has a mere 2MP camera. On the audio front, it boasts of DTS+ sound. The 10.1-inch screen has a resolution of 1920x1200 and is LED backlit with a pixel density of 224 ppi. Although the finish is glossy, we did not face many issues while working on office documents.
As far as the ports are concerned, you have a USB 2.0 port and an audio jack on the left hand side and the charging port, HDMI port and an SD card slot on the right hand side of the keyboard dock. On the tablet there is just the audio jack and a microSD card slot on the side of the tablet which docks onto the keyboard. HP uses a proprietary port that is reminiscent of the older iPhone and iPad port. The SlateBook x2 has support for Miracast technology which allows you to wirelessly project the tablet screen to a compatible TV receiver.