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HP overreaches and underdelivers with the SlateBook x2

Armando Rodriguez | Aug. 27, 2013
It's a tablet, it's a laptop, it's a disappointment any way you use it.

I wanted to love the HP SlateBook x2. I imagined the Android tablet-slash-laptop replacing my daily driver, a mid-2012 13-inch MacBook Air, and I saw myself taking advantage of its lengthy battery life to get through an entire day's worth of work without having to worry about where I left my charger. Now that Android has a better library of productivity apps that work on a larger screen, I should be able to do everything I want to.

Then I actually used the damn thing.

Whereas HP's previous Android offering, the Slate 7, disappointed only as a tablet, the SlateBook is a tablet/laptop hybrid that has problems no matter which way you use it: This device is clunky, awkward, and extremely buggy.

Stiff joints and cramped quarters
The SlateBook is surprisingly heavy for its diminutive size. Although the tablet alone weighs less than the fourth-generation iPad, the tablet and dock together weigh as much as a standard Ultrabook. When not docked, the SlateBook resembles pretty much every other Android tablet: The 10.1-inch, 1920-by-1200-pixel display is clear enough that you can read text without straining your eyes, and the tablet as a whole seems designed for use in landscape mode rather than portrait. Having a widescreen aspect ratio makes the SlateBook great for movies and games, but comic books and magazines will appear squeezed in portrait mode on the tall and skinny screen.

The tablet itself doesn't feel cheap like the Lenovo IdeaTab A1000, and it's pretty sturdy considering its all-plastic construction. You can easily chuck it into a bag or purse without much fear of the chassis cracking—just make sure to keep your keys and loose change in a different compartment, as the shell is easy to scratch. The power and volume buttons are located on the rear of the device, so they're hard to reach if you're using the tablet one-handed or in portrait mode. The buttons themselves are too spongy, and you need to press them pretty hard to get them to work.

Docking the tablet is a cinch, and the two pieces make a satisfying click when you put them together. The physical, island-style keyboard is 91 percent of the size of a full-size keyboard and has special keys that assist in navigating around the SlateBook's Android OS. The single-button touchpad is small—about the size of a business card—and supports two-finger scrolling. While the keyboard works great for entering text and typing longer documents, the small touchpad makes mousing from one side of the screen to the other tiresome. Luckily, the dock features a full-size USB port, so you can easily plug in your own mouse.


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