Asus may have popularized the idea of a tablet with a battery-boosting keyboard dock, but Hewlett-Packard is taking it to the bank. On Wednesday, the company announced the SlateBook x2 and the Split x2, a pair of clamshell computers that let you detach the display and use it as a standalone touchscreen tablet. While they might look similar in our gallery, though, and similar to the existing HP Envy x2, they're also very different machines. The HP SlateBook x2 is a high-end 10-inch Android tablet, while the Split x2 is a relatively low-end Intel notebook that runs full Windows 8. Both will arrive this August.
For $479.99, the HP SlateBook x2 runs the latest Android 4.2.2 operating system on the latest quad-core Nvidia Tegra 4 processor, making it one of the very first devices with that chip inside. At 10.2 inches, it's smaller than both the 11.6-inch Envy x2 and the new 13.3-inch Split x2, but it counterintutively has the highest-quality screen, boasting a full 1920 x 1200 resolution IPS panel with great viewing angles and a relatively high 400 nits of brightness.
While its 16GB of storage (expandable via microSD) and 2GB of system memory won't be anything special at the nearly $500 price point, the keyboard dock certainly might. Beyond a reasonably comfortable little keyboard, it also adds
two one USB port, an SD card slot, an HDMI jack, an extra battery that could nearly double the tablet's battery life to somewhere north of eight hours... and unlike with many previous transforming devices, the keyboard dock is included in the SlateBook x2's price.
Keyboards included: it's a package deal
If you're looking for a Windows 8 computer, though, the same is true of the $799.99 HP Split x2, and its included keyboard dock has even more going for it. In many ways, the Split x2 picks up where the Envy x2 left off, turning the concept into a fuller Windows 8 experience. Where the Envy only offered a relatively weak Intel Atom processor and up to 128GB of pricy solid state storage in its MacBook Air-inspired frame, the muted black Split x2 starts by fitting a 7W Core i3 processor and 4GB of memory into the tablet, and a large 500GB hard drive into the included keyboard base.
The 13.3-inch screen is unfortunately still of the low-resolution 1366 x 768 variety, and the full combined unit weighs a not-insubstantial 4.85 pounds, but HP tells us it should get as much or more battery life than your average Intel ultrabook. It should have power to spare, too: a rep told us that says the performance "isn't even comparable" with the Atom-based Envy x2.
Unfortunately, the units HP had on display weren't close to final, and so we couldn't get a real feel for quality of these keyboards and touchscreens, the performance, the hinges, or even the weight. Still, they sure sound like the could be compelling options if you're looking for an inexpensive personal computer that can double as a tablet this back-to-school season. It looks like maybe HP's really getting serious about the tablet business.