2015 will be remembered as the year of the hybrid laptop. With amazing new devices, including the Microsoft Surface Book, Surface Pro 4 and Apple's iPad Pro, consumers have a plethora of attractive tablets that can be used with a keyboard to function as a capable notebook.
The hybrid laptop category isn't new. But 2015 will be remembered as the first year on record during which nearly every manufacturer produced at least one solid hybrid. If you got rid of the aforementioned industry-leading devices, you'd still have the Google Pixel C, the Dell XPS 12, the HP Spectre x2 and the Lenovo IdeaPad Miix 700 over which to salivate.
Not to be outdone, HP has upgraded last year's Elite x2 1011, a business-class hybrid with a sturdy build, a stellar battery, but much too heavy and mediocre to compete with the big dogs in the consumer class.
With the introduction of the HP Elite x2 1012 (starting at $899, £749 [without keyboard], AU$1,250) HP has propelled itself to the top of the hybrid pack. The word mediocre won't ever be used to describe the Elite x2 1012. This is a gorgeous device, at an attractive price-point – one that business users and consumers will treasure.
Like last year's model, the Elite x2 1012 is housed in a sleek, aluminum chassis that is rugged enough to withstand most minor drops, bumps and scrapes. Unlike plastic devices that bend and flex depending on how hard you grip them, the Elite x2 1012 won't budge a millimeter. It feels like a premium piece of machinery, one you won't hesitate to bring out into the field or onto a production floor.
Despite its sturdiness, the 1012 measures only 11.2 x 8.4 x 0.5 inches (WxDxH) (30 x 21.4 x 1.3 cm) when attached to its accompanying travel keyboard. This is a mere 0.04 inches thicker than the Surface Pro 4 when attached to its Type Cover, and 0.11 inches thicker than the iPad Pro when attached to its Smart Connector. In fact, the Elite x2 1012 is actually 0.4 inches thinner than the Surface Book.
It's also in the same class as these featherweights. The Elite x2 1012 weighs only 2.72 pounds (1.23kg) when attached to its travel keyboard. The Surface Pro 4 weighs 2.37 pounds, the iPad Pro weighs 2.07 pounds and the Surface Book weighs 3.34 pounds when attached to their respective keyboards. So, the 1012 sits right in the middle of the top end of the class in terms of portability when used as a notebook. As a standalone tablet, it weighs 1.85 pounds, which is heavier than all three industry-leaders, but only by up to a half a pound.
What separates the Elite x2 1012 from the competition is its magnificent stainless steel kickstand, which is the toughest I've ever encountered. The mechanism, which is attached to the travel keyboard, can flex backward and forward to give you access to the device in notebook, display and draw mode. Unlike the Surface Type Cover, which is really only ideal in notebook mode, the Elite's kickstand gives you optimal usage regardless of the angle to which you set it.
The keyboard itself is phenomenal. It features chiclet-style keys with a textured face that is a delight to touch. The keys provide the perfect amount of give when pressed. Additionally, the clickpad is one of the nicest I've ever tested, both on full-on notebooks as well as on a hybrid. It's covered in a smooth glass that not only feels nice to use, but also provides exact responsiveness.
The one thing I don't like about the travel keyboard is the felt texture HP used to cover the aluminum keyboard bottom. This looks like the kind of mink coat a heavyweight boxing champ would have worn in the 1970s. I suspect it will gather a ton of dust and gunk, and will look weathered and worn within a few months. Luckily, HP reinforced the bottom of edge of the keyboard with three layers of aluminum, so you won't have to worry about slamming this bad boy down onto the table when someone (rightly) insults your travel keyboard's felt texture.