HP ZBook X2: The Lifehacker Review

The typical tablet or convertible computer tops out at around 13-inches. But HP’s gargantuan ZBook X2, that I’ve been testing for a couple of weeks, comes with a 14-inch display. Here’s what I’ve learned.

It’s been a while since I travelled with a 14-inch device. The largest notebook I’ve used for an extended period has been around the 13-inch mark and I’ve often managed with a smaller device like and 11-inch sub notebook or 10-inch tablet. So, carrying the 14-inch ZBook X2 took some getting used to. Although it’s just 26mm thick with the detachable keyboard connected – it hooks on magnetically – it weighs in at over 2.1kg. That’s not a criticism of the size or weight but an observation that it’s quite different to my usual portable computer experience.

The first boot up

When the ZBook X2 first fires up, you’ll notice that the machine is protected by HP’s SureStart. this is a BIOS level of protection that ensures that when the computer starts, the BIOS hasn’t been tampered with by malware. Once that passed, the computer launched into the pre-installed version of Windows 10 Professional.

The ZBook X2 is pitched at high-end users. As such, I am still baffled as to why the Start menu was filled with crap such as Minecraft and a bunch of games. This was something I bitched about almost a year ago and things aren’t any better. What makes it more annoying is that with a business-focussed device like this, it adds to the deployment time for corporate IT teams, rather than simply being able to turn a PC on and have it auto-configure using tools such as MSSP or other remote deployment tech.

Once I’d gotten over that annoyance, I was ready to get working with the ZBook X2.

Real world operation

There are many different variants of the ZBook X2 with differing processor, memory and storage configurations. My test unit came with an Intel Core i7 vPro CPU, 32GB of memory and a 512GB SSD for storage. That’s a very hefty system for my needs.

The display which runs at 3480 by 2160 was excellent. Watching movies, working on documents and spreadsheets and editing images were all handled with aplomb. One of the things I always do with Windows 10 is adjust the virtual desktop settings. interestingly, HP has added buttons to the left and right sides of the display for moving between virtual screens, as well as enabling and disabling touch and pen input.

the display is propped up by a hinged stand that folds out from behind the screen and allows you to set the display on a wide variety of viewing angles.

The screen has Bang and Olufsen speakers built in that did a great job when I was watching movies or listening to music when I should have been working.

That’s important as the keyboard, which can be either flipped all the way behind the screen or detached, isn’t needed for switching displays.

The keyboard took me a lot of getting used to. While the feel was great the extra column of keys down the right side meant that I kept hitting the home and end keys accidentally instead of backspace and shift. That took some time for me to change my typing style.

Connecting external devices was a breeze with USB-A, USB-C and HDMI connectors as well as a smartcard slot and SD card slot. As you’d expect, ti supports 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0.

Battery life

HP has equipped the ZBook X2 with a 4-cell 70 Wh Li-ion polymer battery.

I was able to work for several hours, including a break to watch two-hour movie. On a full work day, I was able to work for between four and five hours, so I needed to carry the power adaptor with me during the day.

Price and recommendation

The HP ZBook X2 has a starting price of about $4,600. But to get one at the spec I tested will set you back closer to $6,450 making it the sort of system you’d buy only if you needed the highest spec possible.

The HP ZBook X2 is a great machine. It’s powerful, has a great display and will handle pretty much any computing need you can throw at it in a package that you can easily take with you almost anywhere.

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