HP Pavilion 10 x2 (2014)

Platforms: PC

For the busy traveller, netbooks were once the go-to device of choice. A small form factor packed with the technology required to surf, blog and even game on the go, they were by far the preferred medium for the commuter who needed the fundamentals without the weight. Over the last few years though, the rise of rivals such as the Chromebook and even tablets have sought to eat into that market share, offering similar capabilities at competitive prices. One such tablet is the HP Pavilion 10 x2. With a new version loaded with Windows 10 hitting the shelves in the next month, it seemed an appropriate time to take a look at its predecessor - not least because of the expected price drop it’ll likely be blessed with when its shiny big brother arrives.

With the advent of a detachable keyboard, tablets have become far more feasible as a laptop alternative. The x2 is no different, offering a keyboard which docks magnetically into the tablet’s edge. Tablet and laptop users alike will find the hybrid takes a little getting used to since swipers may not recognise the freedom a tactile surface for typing on can bring, whilst those used to a keyboard may initially fail to take advantage of the on-screen flexibility at their fingertips. The detachable keyboard doubles at a stand via a back cover which allows a limited range of viewing positions through a cleverly designed foldable magnetic panel.

The keyboard itself is adequate but not great. Netbook users will find it flimsy to the point of delicacy, as the plastic surface is prone to bending alarmingly; indeed, our review model looked as though it was already bent. The keys have low travel and feel a little condensed which is compounded by its overly flexible build, and though the ClickPad is fairly smooth, it does sometimes fail to register basic finger movement if the pressure used is not sufficient. Similarly, the mouse buttons built into the trackpad require firm clicking for responses, but this isn’t unusual for people familiar with HP’s Pavilion range but the lack of texturing on the ClickPad will be a welcome relief for anyone who has experienced numb fingers using their laptops.

Beneath the 10.1” frame is an Intel Atom 1.33GHz processor, a 32GB flash hard drive, and 2GB of RAM, which is adequate for supporting the pre-loaded version of Windows 8.1. However, it is not particularly speedy. Simple OS tasks such as opening File Explorer often take over three seconds - and longer, dependent on what else you have open, but applications themselves run smoothly. It’s never going to be a gaming machine, but it plays web-based Flash games at good performance levels via the built-in Intel HD graphics card. Similarly, the speakers are as you would expect from a tablet - barely adequate. A headphone socket allows for better sound via earphones or portable speaker.

The 1280x720 LED IPS display is responsive and has good (but not great) levels of brightness. It can, however, be viewed at any angle which combined with the adjustable magnetic support stand make it an ideal laptop alternative for plane and train travel. Connectivity-wise, the x2 sports micro-HDMI, micro-SD and USB ports, as well as built in wi-fi, Bluetooth and a webcam. We didn’t experience any drop-outs with connectivity and the camera is fine for Skype calling and similar low-level usage.

One of the main drawbacks of laptops, especially for travellers and commuters, is the battery life. We reached just under seven hours on our review model, which included moderate internet browsing, and a couple of hour-long YouTube videos. When idle though, this figure jumped to over eleven and a half hours. As such, the x2 performs far more favourably than the likes of Chromebooks and ultrabooks for power consumption. A full recharge via the micro USB charging point took just over an hour.

At 1.4kg, the tablet is light enough for transport in a shoulder bag for long periods without discomfort. A case would be highly recommended though, since there is no locking mechanism for keeping the tablet closed to the keyboard. Even when it is attached, there is still the possibility of grit slipping in between the keyboard and tablet, potentially scratching the screen.

The question we return to though is: is it a decent substitute for a netbook? The jury is out here. The portability, connectivity and operating system will definitely appeal to those who don’t want to be limited by the likes of Chrome OS. This is offset by the overall build quality of both the tablet and keyboard; the latter especially feels cheap thanks to its worryingly bendable plastic, and anyone wanting to blog on the road will more likely prefer something sturdier and less cramped. That said, budget is absolutely a factor here - it is over half the price of the Surface 3, and offers up a feature set which, whilst not directly comparable, is still very competitive. When you consider a year’s Office 365 licence is thrown in gratis as well, the x2’s affordability suddenly makes it a far more viable option. It may not be suitable for the most ardent writer on the go, but for casual use the price-conscious can rest easy, knowing that they’ve made a solid purchase.

This hardware was provided for review by eBuyer. At the time of publication the HP Pavilion 10 x2 is priced at £239.99, available here.

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