HP Chromebook x2 11 Review: A Chrome-Based iPad Competitor?

HP Chromebook x2 11 sitting on table top (front view).

HP Chromebook x2 11

MSRP $599.00

“The HP Chromebook x2 11 is a well-built detachable tablet with an excellent display and good enough productivity performance and battery life.”

Pros

  • Decent productivity performance
  • Solid build quality
  • Excellent display
  • Good productivity battery life
  • Affordable

Cons

  • Limited to Wi-Fi 5
  • Kickstand add-on is kludgy
  • Keyboard action is subpar

The iPad has dominated the tablet world for years, with few valid competitors from other platforms. Microsoft has the Surface devices, but Chrome OS hasn’t had as strong a contender. Most of its detachable tablet and 2-in-1 offerings are budget-oriented affairs.

The HP Chromebook x2 11 changes that, providing a more premium option to take on either the iPad or even the iPad Pro. It’s the first Chrome OS detachable to offer an 11-inch, 2K 3:2 display, the first to be powered by a Qualcomm 7C chipset, and the first with optional 4G LTE for always-connected internet. Finally, there’s a Chromebook that can take on Apple’s best.

I reviewed the midrange HP Chromebook x2 11 with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 7c, 8GB of RAM, and 64GB of eMMC storage that costs $599. That’s a solid configuration for running Chrome OS, at least in terms of RAM and storage, and it comes at an attractive price. You can spend $30 less for 4GB of RAM and $80 more for 128GB of storage. The HP Chromebook x2 11 has some firsts, but does it all come together to make a compelling package? I thought so, even given the performance gap compared to the latest Intel-based Chromebooks, as well as a disappointing keyboard and kickstand.

Design

HP Chromebook x2 11 sitting up on a table.
Mark Coppock/Digital Trends

The HP Chromebook x2 11 is constructed from a single CNC-machined block of aluminum, and as such, it was as solid as any other tablet I’ve handled. It’s equal to the very well-built Microsoft Surface Go 3 and the Apple iPad Pro, with no bending, flexing, or twisting. The display is made from scratch-resistant Gorilla Glass 4. You’ll feel confident in the HP Chromebook x2 11’s construction as you carry it around and hold it in hand.

In terms of its aesthetic, the HP Chromebook x2 11 is a silver slab with subtle accents that’s simple but attractive.

Given its larger 11-inch display compared to the Surface Go 3’s 10.5-inch panel, the HP Chromebook x2 11 is slightly larger at 9.94 inches wide and 6.96 inches tall — the Surface Go 3 is 9.65 inches by 6.9 inches. The HP Chromebook x2 11 is thinner at 0.3 inches compared to 0.33 inches and essentially the same weight at 1.23 pounds compared to 1.2 pounds.

The two tablets are about the same thickness and weight once you add their detachable keyboards and, in the case of the HP Chromebook x2 11, the kickstand add-on that magnetically connects to the back of the tablet. Overall, the HP Chromebook x2 11 is small and light enough to be wonderfully comfortable in tablet mode while being equally usable in a lap with the keyboard and kickstand attached — which is to say, it’s an OK but not great experience compared with clamshell laptops.

HP Chromebook x2 11 sitting on table top (back view).
Mark Coppock/Digital Trends

Speaking of the kickstand, I found the design to be a bit clunky. The Surface Go 3 has its kickstand built in, which is so much more convenient than fumbling with the HP Chromebook x2 11’s add-on. Once attached, the kickstand was just as functional, firmly holding the tablet in place and opening to a wide angle.

The problem is that it’s another piece that needs to be carried around and connected, which I found a little bothersome. I suppose I’d get used to it over time, but it’s just not as elegant a solution.

In terms of its aesthetic, the HP Chromebook x2 11 is a silver slab with subtle accents that’s simple but attractive. It has rounded edges like many tablets today and, generally speaking, it’s not going to stand out. Its display bezels are smaller than the Surface Go 3’s, so it’s a more modern design, much like the iPad Pro.

There’s little else to say about the HP Chromebook x2 11’s appearance. It’s a simple silver tablet that blends into its background. Note that you can add a splash of color by choosing between night teal (my review unit) and shade gray keyboards and kickstands.

Connectivity is limited to two USB-C ports, one of which is used to power the tablet, a microSD card reader, and an optional SIM slot for 4G LTE. One weakness is that the Qualcomm chipset only provides Wi-Fi 5 and Bluetooth 5.0, which is a disappointment given the prevalence of Wi-Fi 6 on other machines.

The HP Chromebook x2 11 has two webcams, one 5MP user-facing and one 8MP world-facing. Both provide excellent resolution to Chrome OS applications and make the tablet an excellent videoconferencing tool.

Performance

HP Chromebook x2 11 sitting on table top.
Mark Coppock/Digital Trends

The Qualcomm Snapdragon 7c powering the HP Chromebook x2 11 is an 8-core ARM CPU running at up to 2.4GHz. It’s meant to provide good productivity performance with strong battery life and always-connected internet. Coincidentally, I’ve recently reviewed some Chromebooks running 11th-gen Intel Core CPUs, such as the Asus Chromebook Flip C536 (Core i3-1115G4) and the Asus Chromebook Flip CX5 (Core i5-1135G7), so I’ve been exposed to Chrome OS running on much faster hardware. I could certainly tell the difference between those machines and the HP Chromebook x2 11.

It’s not that the HP tablet was slow. It wasn’t, as long as the number of open Chrome tabs didn’t get too high or I didn’t run too many Android apps in the background. With a reasonable workflow, things were snappy enough that I didn’t notice the HP Chromebook x2 11 struggling to keep up. It didn’t score well in Geekbench 5 at just 590 in the single-core test and 1,689 in the multi-core, compared to the Asus Chromebook Flip CX5 that hit 1,190 and 4,151 and the Chromebook C536 at 1,209 and 2,849.

The Asus Chromebook Flip CM3 with its MediaTek MT8183 was slower at just 299 and 1,407. Interestingly, the HP Chromebook x2 11 scored similarly to the Microsoft Surface Go 3’s 920 and 1,704. That tablet runs the full Windows 11 — I’d rate the HP Chromebook x2 11’s subjective performance as slightly better than the Surface Go 3’s.

The HP Chromebook x2 11 hit just 45 in the Speedometer 2.0 web benchmark. That’s on the low end of the scale, beating out the Lenovo IdeaPad Duet (another smaller Chromebook detachable tablet) at 27 and the Chromebook Flip CM3 that only hit 24, but it’s well behind the rest of the field. The Chromebook Flip CX5 achieved the highest-ever score in our database at 163, for example.

Nevertheless, I found the HP Chromebook x2 11 to be a competent performer. I wrote this review using the tablet, as I tend to do, and I found WordPress just as responsive as on other Chromebooks I’ve used. The 8GB of RAM helps keep multitasking up to speed, and again, as long as I didn’t open too many tabs or run too many apps in the background, the HP Chromebook x2 11 kept up with my workflow just fine. It would make for a great tablet for students or a secondary machine for productivity users who want something light and portable to complement a more powerful laptop.

I tried out Asphalt 9, the Android game that I use for testing Chromebook gaming performance, and it was a bit choppy at times. You’ll want to limit yourself to more casual games unless you’re OK with the occasional stutter.

Display

HP Chromebook x2 11 display closeup.
Mark Coppock/Digital Trends

The HP Chromebook x2 11 has an 11-inch display in the productivity-friendly 3:2 aspect ratio that’s also best in portrait mode. It’s closer to the dimensions of a real piece of paper than old-school 16:9 displays and even the slightly taller 16:10 panels. It matches Microsoft’s Surface line in this regard, making for great inking using an active pen. HP calls the display “2K” based on a resolution of 2,160 x 1,440. Call it what you will, but at 236 pixels per inch (PPI), the display is incredibly sharp at the 11-inch size.

It’s also a very colorful display that’s bright and has plenty of contrast. I wish I could use my colorimeter to test the display — it doesn’t work with Chrome OS, unfortunately — because I think this display would score well. Holding the HP Chromebook x2 11 next to the Surface Go 3, which has an objectively and subjectively excellent display, I find HP’s display just as pleasant as Microsoft’s.

Black text is sharp and pops on white backgrounds, which is particularly important to me as a writer, and colors are dynamic without seeming unnatural. Photos look great, and streaming video is a treat. The display also seemed brighter than other Chromebooks I’ve used lately, holding up well in even the brightest environments I worked in — although it couldn’t keep up with the Southern California sun, but few laptops can.

HP Chromebook x2 11 display in tablet mode.
Mark Coppock/Digital Trends

You want a good display on a tablet given the media consumption you’ll tend to use it for, and the HP Chromebook x2 11 delivers on that score. It’s one of the best Chromebook displays I’ve used, and it’s a real strength.

Two front-firing speakers provide the audio, and they produce serviceable audio. The volume was high enough when turned all the way up to share a YouTube video, with only a tiny bit of distortion and clear mids and highs. Bass was nonexistent, unsurprisingly, making this a sound system that’s best augmented by a good pair of headphones for music and bingeing Netflix.

Keyboard and touchpad

HP Chromebook x2 11 case.
Mark Coppock/Digital Trends

I’ve already covered how I’m not too fond of the kickstand add-on, so I won’t belabor that point. The detachable keyboard, though, is a more traditional design. It snaps onto the bottom of the tablet magnetically and has pogo pins to make the necessary connection. Like most detachable keyboards today, it can lie flat or prop up at an angle. When in the latter mode, it’s at a comfortable angle, although there’s some bounce when typing. It’s much like the Surface Go 3 in this regard, whereas the Lenovo ThinkPad X12 Detachable‘s keyboard that’s much more rigid.

I found the keyboard itself to be a little small, yet another characteristic shared with the Surface Go 3. The keycaps are tiny, and there’s not much spacing. The switches are also very loose, lacking a snappy mechanism and suffering from a loud, clanky bottoming action.

I wasn’t a fan of this keyboard and much preferred the snappier, more precise Surface Go 3 version. As I said, I wrote this review using the HP Chromebook x2 11, and the keyboard was the only thing holding me back.

Closeup on the HP Chromebook x2 11's keyboard.
Mark Coppock/Digital Trends

The touchpad is better, with a smooth surface and nice size. It provided reliable support for the full suite of Chrome OS multitouch gestures. The display is touch-enabled, of course, and it supports a USI Certified active pen that was included with my review configuration but optional otherwise. The pen worked as well as any other I’ve used, with low latency and a smooth action.

The fingerprint reader embedded in the power button was one extra feature that I particularly appreciated and that you don’t find on many Chromebooks. Chrome OS requires you to log in with your password or PIN after rebooting, but waking from sleep and logging in was a simple matter of pressing the power button. It was fast and reliable and made getting back to work faster and more convenient than it is on many other Chromebooks.

Battery life

HP Chromebook x2 11 stand viewed from the side.
Mark Coppock/Digital Trends

The HP Chromebook x2 11 is equipped with a 32-watt-hour battery powering the energy-efficient Snapdragon 7c and Chrome OS. This combination should provide a full working day’s battery life at least, and that’s what I was hoping to see as I ran our battery tests.

As it turns out, the HP Chromebook x2 11 performed well, but not spectacularly. In our web-browsing test, the HP Chromebook x2 11 lasted 12.75 hours. That’s a strong score taken on its own and when compared against Intel laptops, but when compared against other ARM-based machines, it’s not as impressive. The Lenovo IdeaPad Duet, for example, lasted an hour longer with its Mediatek Helio P60T ARM CPU, a 27 watt-hour battery, and 10.1-inch display. The Lenovo Flex 5G with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 8cx lasted for 17.25 hours on this test.

It’s hard to fault the HP Chromebook x2 11 here — after all, this score indicates much better than all-day battery life, our basic standard — but I still would have liked to see the tablet last a couple of hours longer.

Battery life is good when it comes to productivity, but lacking for media consumption.

In our video test that loops a local 1080p movie trailer, the HP Chromebook x2 11 made it to 11 hours. It’s not uncommon for Chrome OS machines to last longer in the web-browsing than the video tests, which is opposite of Windows and Mac OS laptops. The HP Chromebook x2 11’s score was about 1.5 hours less than the Lenovo IdeaPad Duet, and a full 17 hours less than the Lenovo Flex 5G. In fact, it’s not a great score for the components, period.

Overall, battery life is good when it comes to productivity, but lacking for media consumption. It’s not that 11 hours of playing video is terrible, it’s just not where I expected the HP Chromebook x2 11 to fall. Again, we’re talking all-day battery life, but not necessarily what an ARM CPU is supposed to provide.

Our take

The HP Chromebook x2 11 epitomizes the qualities that make a good Chromebook: Simple operation, efficiency, and good-enough performance on low-end hardware. Its display is also excellent and a sheer pleasure to use, which is welcome at a $599 price point.

As an iPad or Surface competitor, the HP Chromebook x2 11 is an important achievement for the world of Chromebooks. It’s not perfect, as evidenced by the clumsy kickstand and the uncomfortable keyboard, but if you’re looking for a highly portable Chrome OS device that will last you a long time on a charge, then HP’s tablet should be on your shor tlist.

Are there any alternatives?

The most compelling alternative is the Microsoft Surface Go 3. Yes, it runs Windows 11 and not Chrome OS, but in terms of its size, build quality, display, and performance, it’s a close competitor to the HP Chromebook x2 11. It’s more expensive when configured for good performance and because of its Type Cover and Surface Pen being optional add-ons. Even so, if it’s a tablet you’re looking for rather than an operating system, the Surface Go 3 is a great option.

Next up is the Apple iPad — most likely the $329 entry-level model. It will provide speedier performance given its fast ARM CPU and highly optimized OS, and it has a great display as well. It’s also thin, light, and well-built. Again, though, it’s not a Chrome OS device, if that’s what you’re looking for.

The thing is, I don’t know of another Chrome OS detachable tablet that I’d put up against the HP Chromebook x2 11. The Lenovo IdeaPad Duet is an option, but it’s significantly less expensive and feels like it in its build quality. But if you want to save some money and have a similarly portable machine, then it’s an alternative.

How long will it last?

The HP Chromebook x2 11 is very well-built and evokes confidence in years of productive duty. Chrome OS doesn’t tend to get slower over time, and so the components should keep up well. You’ll have to settle for the industry-standard one-year warranty.

Should you buy it?

Yes. The HP Chromebook x2 11 is a great little tablet that would suit students or function as a secondary machine for more demanding productivity users. And it’s a low-cost alternative to the iPad Pro.

Editors’ Recommendations






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