HP Chromebook X2 11: Hands-on and first impressions of the newest Chrome OS tablet

Although it’s been available at retail stores for about a month, I’ve only just taken a first look at the HP Chromebook X2 11. HP loaned me its newest Chrome OS tablet a few days ago. I haven’t spent too much time with it but I do have some first impressions.

Some are really good. And some are… really bad.

Obviously, I’ll need more time using the HP Chromebook X2 11 before sharing a full review. So even though my aging eyes are used to Chromebooks with a larger display, I’ll be using this Chrome OS tablet as much as possible in the coming days.

For now, though, let’s get to my initial thoughts.

HP Chromebook X2 11 hardware: The good so far

Overall, the hardware looks fantastic. This 11-inch tablet is solidly built and well designed. It’s leaps and bounds better than any of the other few Chrome OS tablets on the market to date. I do wish HP had placed one of the two USB Type-C ports on each side of the tablet, but hey, that’s life. At least there are two!

From a design standpoint, the X2 reminds me very much of the iPad Pro 11 that I’ve been using for the last two years. At first glance, it’s easy to confuse the two devices. It’s not until you look at the placement of ports, speakers, and the camera that you realize this isn’t an iPad Pro 11; it’s the HP Chromebook X2 11.

Personally, I think that’s a good thing as I generally like Apple’s iPad design. Actually, Apple should take a cue from HP and put the front-facing camera on the horizontal bezel like it is on the X2. Landscape mode for video chatting, please.

The hardware buttons, including the fingerprint sensor on the power button, are all working fine for me. I do like logging into Chrome OS with the touch of a finger. So far, the speakers are decent but not amazing by any stretch.

The display, however, is excellent. It’s a 3:2 aspect ratio with 2160 x 1440 resolution. The panel provides 100% of the RGB color gamut and has 400 nits of brightness. It is a treat to look at anything on the screen.

HP Chromebook X2 11 display scaling

And the included magnetic kickstand with its fully adjustable angle is useful for watching content hands-free anywhere you are. Note that with the default Chrome OS scaling, you’re essentially getting a 1200 x 800 experience. I’ll have to compare that to the scaling on the Lenovo Chromebook Duet to see which shows more content on the display.

Also included in my loaner is the USI stylus, which attaches magnetically to the display. It charges when attached and so far, is adequate for writing some notes although I wouldn’t say it’s a zero-latency pen experience.

HP Chromebook X2 11 hardware: The not so good so far

Sounds good, so far, right? And so far it is good. However, a few early experiences have already left a sour taste in my mouth.

First is the keyboard attachment. HP took the Microsoft Surface approach by adding magnets to let you attach the width of the keyboard to the display. This should eliminate the wobble that Pixel Slate and Lenovo Chromebook Duet owners have experienced when typing on a lap. And it does, but not completely. The extra magnets also aren’t as powerful as those used on the kickstand, which may be why I still feel a little instability.

HP Chromebook X2 11 keyboard and ports

As far as the keyboard itself? This should summarize my experience so far. I used the HP Chromebook X2 11 on my lap with the detachable keyboard for 30 minutes yesterday. I almost threw the device across the room a half-dozen times in that span. The keys are fine and have decent travel, but they’re a bit small. That’s because they use a square HP design the company has used on some of its other laptops. Expanding the key size might help me feel less cramped.

But that has nothing to do with my 30 minutes of frustration. This keyboard attachment may be the flimsiest I’ve ever used on any device. As a result, resting my palms on the keyboard on my lap constantly causes false mouse clicks. I can remove the keyboard and flex it with a very small amount of pressure and I can hear the trackpad click. It’s really bad so far in my experience. I will do more testing both on lap and on a flat surface but so far, it’s aggravating me to no end.

Lastly is the performance. I’ve read from several owners of the Lenovo Chromebook Duet who have purchased the HP Chromebook X2 11 that they see a performance bump. I’ll have to dig up the Duet and make some type of standard comparison because I’m just not seeing it. Or it’s barely a noticeable jump. It’s too early to tell although we pretty much know what to expect from the Qualcomm Snapdragon 7c compute platform: It’s in the Acer Chromebook Spin 513 I tested last month. It’s fine if you expect entry-level performance.

About that pricing…

So this is where my full review will be the most challenging once I get more time with this Chrome OS tablet.

Here is HP’s official pricing list by configuration:

HP Chromebook X2 11 pricing

I was loaned the middle configuration, which is found at Best Buy. It’s WiFi only, so no LTE but does include the USI stylus. If you want LTE, you’ll only pay an $80 premium for the hardware but you won’t get the stylus. All models get the kickstand and keyboard.

The problem here is the recent Best Buy sales dropping the price of the middle model to either $379.99 or $399.99. And it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that this Chrome OS tablet is a better value at under $400 than it is at $599. I’m not sure how I’m going to mitigate that aspect in the review. I already feel that $599 is too much to pay for this device based on my initial impressions. Perhaps I’ll change my mind after many hours of use.

Anyway, if you have specific questions I should keep in mind while using the HP Chromebook X2 11, leave them in the comments and I’ll do my best to answer them in my upcoming review.

14 thoughts on “HP Chromebook X2 11: Hands-on and first impressions of the newest Chrome OS tablet

  • October 6, 2021 at 8:05 pm
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    imo price-performance does not compare favorably to the Lenovo Duet, especially if the Snapdragon 7c only gives a marginally better experience over the Duet’s MediaTek CPU. It’s a shame, because the X2 adds some of the features I wanted on a Duet (additional USB port, 8GB RAM, USI stylus… though no MicroSD slot, unfortunately), but at $599 for the 64GB model, no way! Even at the discounted Best Buy price, I’ll stick with my 128GB Duet for more than $100 less (though I hope Lenovo adds the extras I want in a future Duet 2).

    Reply
    • October 25, 2021 at 11:32 am
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      I picked up the 8gb LTE with Stylus version on a flash sale from HP.com for $450 and at this price point it’s a great value. It runs Android apps very well, I found it to have the least amount of stylus latency of any Chromebook I’ve tried, it’s super portable, and the LTE is strong. I’m not pushing the processor too hard, I’ve got a desktop for that or if I needed that I would have bought a different device, but for an ultralportable Chromebook to take notes, do email, and some lite gaming through Android or heavier gaming through Stadia, I couldn’t ask for much more.

      Reply
      • October 25, 2021 at 12:03 pm
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        That’s a fair assessment. Question: would you feel the same if it wasn’t on sale but cost $599.99?

        Reply
  • October 6, 2021 at 9:00 pm
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    I ordered the HP Chromebook X2 11 from Best Buy when it was on sale for $379.99. I’ve had it for over a week and I find it noticeably faster than my Lenovo Chromebook Duet. So I just sold the Duet on eBay.

    The X2 11 replaced my iPad as my kitchen table device to read the news and catch up on email and texts each morning. I’m not out much due to COVID-19. I work from home. But I expect the new HP to be my primary companion at coffee shops and weekend trips. For longer trips where I need to do complex work in Word, I will opt for my Lenovo Thinkpad Windows laptop.

    Reply
  • October 6, 2021 at 9:50 pm
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    I own both the HP X2 11 and the Duet. 8GB of RAM make a huge difference in performance. Duet can handle a couple of tabs just fine, but it really slows down beyond that. X2 11 handles a dozen open tabs without any noticeable delay.

    At $379/$399, it’s an excellent option for anyone looking for a Chromebook. At $599 … I’m not so sure.

    Reply
    • October 7, 2021 at 11:24 am
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      Agreed on all points! There is a definite benefit to having double the memory over the Duet when it comes to having more tabs or apps open. I wish Lenovo had offered an 8 GB version of the Duet but it is what it is.

      Reply
  • October 7, 2021 at 4:43 am
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    This is a 11″ tablet Chromebook first and foremost, with a keyboard accessory. It’s not a laptop. Using the cramped keyboard on your lap or carpeted surface and expecting a laptop experience is unrealistic.

    Reply
    • October 7, 2021 at 11:22 am
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      I hear you on that. But as a device reviewer, it’s not up to me to determine how and where people should use a product. My intent is to test in various contexts so that people understand the pros and cons in those contexts. And if you go to the HP product page for the X2 11, the hero image is someone lying down outside using the keyboard attachment: https://www.hp.com/us-en/chrome/chromebook-x2-11-inch-laptop.html The marketing is suggesting this type of mobile usage. So I don’t think it’s out of bounds or unrealistic to test mobile device product usage when not at a desk. If your use case is always at a desk or table, then this wouldn’t be a con for you, and that’s perfectly understandable! For other people who do want to use this device on a lap or some other setting, it is and they should know that.

      Reply
  • October 7, 2021 at 10:40 am
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    HP has never failed to disappoint me. I stopped buying them years ago. Even so, a review like this makes me even happier with my Lenovo Duet. I haven’t had any problems with it, and it’s half the price.

    Reply
    • October 7, 2021 at 11:39 pm
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      This 100%. There is never a product that has impressed. Always failed. I do not buy anything from them now. They always have seemingly decent showing but the devices always disappoint.

      Reply
  • October 7, 2021 at 3:59 pm
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    FWIW, the Gray 8/128/LTE/No Pen model is $489 today at HP, making it a much better value proposition. My guess is, the tablet will continue to be competitively priced over the upcoming holidays.

    Reply
  • October 10, 2021 at 5:36 pm
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    I loved the Duet (bought one for sweetie) but as I’m an old-school typist, anything less than a full-sized keyboard is a rough go. However swell as a tablet for my tablet needs. And I prefer 11 inch screens, and know it is possible to make full-sized keyboard with an 11 inch screen. In fact I read before it came out that it was just that.
    So I tested one at BB, and couldn’t believe that it was even more cramped than the Duet’s keyboard! The no brainer for me is to await either an 11 inch tablet w/full sized keyboard, or a straight Chromebook tablet without, and save money on a piece I have no use for. Thus this overpriced HP trick is by any measure unacceptable for me.

    Reply
  • October 27, 2021 at 11:36 pm
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    It seems to me if you want a ChromeOS tablet oriented device picking up the Pixel Slate from a refurbished channel or somewhere like Swappa is still your best bet. I’ve considered it, but the inability to track down the keyboard cover has kept me from actually doing it. When I do find it the price is crazy at $180 or higher. I’d rather have a 3 year old Intel m3 or i5 than a underpowered Snapdragon 7c or Intel Pentium that most of these newer tablets are coming with.

    Google made a fantastic device that just never garnered enough interest.

    Reply
  • November 18, 2021 at 6:41 pm
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    Well said, Kevin, about its affordable price, hardware, & design. But unfortunately, there’s no audio or headphone jack.

    Reply

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