HP Slatebook 10 X2 Review – Most of the laptop-tablet hybrids we’ve seen – which try to combine two devices in one – run Windows 8. Although the HP Slatebook 10 X2 looks like a smaller version of the Windows 8-equipped HP Split X2 (see our review, Issue 413), it couldn’t be more different as it runs Android instead.
HP Slatebook 10 X2, An Android tablet and laptop in one
The Slatebook weighs 610g which is relatively light for a 10in tablet, although other similarly sized tablets – such as the iPad Air and the Amazon Kindle Fire HDX 8.9 (see our reviews, Issues 411 and 414 respectively) – are much lighter. One feature the Slatebook does have – that those tablets don’t – is a microSD card slot for adding more storage in addition to the 64GB already built-in. 64GB is a generous amount of storage for a tablet at this price. Although the grey, plastic build is a bit creaky in places, overall it’s reasonably sturdy. The Slatebook’s 10in screen has a resolution of 1920×1080 pixels so text looks sharp. Colour accuracy and brightness were a little off though, especially when compared to other 10in tablet screens, but it’s good enough. Although the Slatebook has one of Nvidia’s latest tablet processors – the quad-core Tegra 4 – performance wasn’t flawless. It didn’t have any trouble handling detailed 3D graphics, but there was a small but noticeable amount of lag when scrolling through complex webpages and running multiple apps simultaneously. Battery life was far below average for a 10in tablet. When playing videos continuously, the Slatebook lasted just over seven hours – rival 10in tablets can last twice as long in the same test. The keyboard dock does have a second battery which adds another five hours of battery life. Although a welcome boost, it’s a shame the Slatebook isn’t capable of long battery life without it.
As a tablet, it isn’t bad, but its battery life is short
When plugged into the keyboard dock, the Slatebook’s weight increases to 1.3kg, which is light for a laptop. The docking joint forms part of the hinge; it feels pretty sturdy and doesn’t wobble too much. The dock adds a USB2 port, a full-size SD card reader and an HDMI connector which are useful, but there’s no USB3 or Ethernet port. When docked, the display tilted back reasonably far so we could get a comfortable viewing angle. Plus, unlike the Split X2, the thick hinge didn’t dig into our legs when used on our lap. Of course, the most important thing about the keyboard dock is how comfortable it is to type on and here the Slatebook falls short. It’s not disastrous – the keys have enough travel, but they’re small and feel both a little cramped and too spongy. We did get used to them eventually and managed to type quickly without too many errors, but it’s no match for a quality keyboard on a traditional laptop.
The Slatebook’s suitability as a laptop substitute depends just as much on software as it does on hardware. HP hasn’t meddled with the Android 4.3 Jelly Bean operating system – which is a stance we usually prefer – but here it would’ve benefited from some modifications to make it work more smoothly with the keyboard and touchpad. For example, parts of the Android interface which you usually swipe downwards with your finger – such as the Notifications drawer and the Settings drawer – require a click, hold and drag which is fiddly to accomplish on the small touchpad. If you’re a frequent user of keyboard shortcuts on Windows or Mac, then the relative lack of them on Android will be frustrating. You could, of course, alternate between the touchscreen and keyboard, but this quickly results in arm ache.
Unlike Windows 8, you can’t have two apps on screen at the same time in Android. Although this can help you concentrate on a particular task without being distracted, it also makes multitasking more difficult. Samsung has modified Android on its tablets so that some apps can run onscreen side by side. Although not perfect, a similar feature would’ve been welcome here. Another potential problem is the continuing lack of Android apps designed to work with high-resolution tablet screens. HP has included a couple of apps to get your started. There’s a basic file manager, but the unlabelled and crypticlooking icons make it fiddly to use. More useful is Kingsoft Office, an app for editing Word, PowerPoint and Excel files. It has trouble displaying especially complex files correctly – such as spreadsheets with lots of complex formulae and charts – but it’s more than good enough for working on simpler files. However, Kingsoft Office isn’t exclusive to the Slatebook – it fact it’s free for both the iPad and other Android tablets. It’s not all bad. Android 4.3 has builtin support for multiple-user accounts. Each member of your household can have their own separate sets of apps and data, so there’s little danger of your kids accidentally messing with your important files.
As a tablet, the Slatebook isn’t bad, but it’s hardly exemplary due to its relatively short battery life and average screen. Its keyboard isn’t bad either, but it won’t suit everyone and is let down by incomplete software support. The Slatebook is best used for occasional or simple writing projects rather than as a full-time replacement for a laptop. In short, the Slatebook is a jack of all trades, but a master of none.
HP Slatebook 10 X2 Specifications
- 10in 1920×1080-pixel screen
- Nvidia Tegra 4 quadcore processor
- 2GB memory
- 64GB storage
- Android 4.3 Jelly Bean
- 610g (1.3kg when docked)
- 96x182x260mm (HxWxD) (205x194x260mm when docked)
- One-year warranty