Hands on: HP Pavilion x2 12 review

An affordable 12-inch laptop-tablet hybrid

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Our Early Verdict

Packing a large, high-res screen and respectable specs, the HP Pavilion x2 12 is a tantalizing 2-in-1 laptop with a very agreeable price.

For

  • Full HD display
  • 3:2 aspect ratio for productivity
  • Loud dual front-facing speakers

Against

  • Massive top bezel

HP has been on a roll producing some excellent budget laptops including the low-price Stream and Pavilion x2. But in the pursuit of offering the best bargain both these machines have been relegated to using only small 10 inch screens. That is until now. For those looking for something with more screen real estate there's finally an affordable option in the form of the 12-inch HP Pavilion x2.

The display on this new 12.1-inch model is not only physically larger than its 10.1-inch sibling, the panel behind it is also sharper with the option of speccing up to a Full HD resolution. Taking a page from the Microsoft's Surface devices, the 12-inch Pavilion x2 also features a 3:2 aspect ratio and with a starting price of $499 (about £337, AU$683) it's one of the cheapest tickets into the world of 2-in-1 laptops

HP Pavilion x2 12 review

Design

From an incidental glance you could easily write off the Pavilion x2 12 as a blown up version of its 10-inch sibling, but HP has made some big changes with this larger hybrid. For starters, the outer shell of the tablet section is wrapped in metal rather than plastic. The new material choice makes the Pavilion x2 12 feel like a more premium device and the tablet section is actually lighter than its plastic-bound predecessor.

The screen is also taller not only by nature of being larger, but thanks to having boxier proportions thanks to its 3:2 aspect ratio. The extra vertical pixels come in real handy for tasks like photo editing, editing documents and other productivity-related tasks. Though, I have to say the top bezel on the screen is conspicuously massive.

HP Pavilion x2 12 review

Although there are noticeable changes, the 12-inch model has inherited much of its smaller predecessor's styling including a pair of booming front-facing Bang & Olufsen speakers. The larger 2-in-1 machine also retains the simple, latch-less magnetic connector for docking with the device's keyboard section. It even keeps the barrel-shaped hinge, which helps prop up the keyboard on an angle when you have the screen open.

The convertible's other half went through a smaller revision to make the base larger. Thankfully HP stretched the keyboard out to fill in this larger canvas making it more comfortable to type on. The keys themselves are larger with bigger spacing between each and you still get a decent 1.5mm of travel. Similarly, the wide trackpad has been expanded to keep in sync with navigating around the larger screen.

HP Pavilion x2 12 review

Thinning out

One good thing to come out of this 12-inch hybrid being larger than the original Pavilion x2 in almost every way is its larger dimensions have helped thin out the device. As a tablet alone, HP latest device measures 0.33-inches (8.4mm) and weighs 1.6 pounds (0.73), whereas the 10-inch Pavilion x2 measures 0.38-inches (9.6mm) and weighs 1.29 pounds (0.58kg).

Even with the keyboard attached, this larger convertible ends up as the thinner system measuring 0.62-inches (15.3mm) compared to its blocker 0.78-inch (19.81mm) little brother. Of course weight-wise, it's a different story with the 12-inch Pavilion x2 weighting 3.23 pounds (1.47kg) and the older model tipping the scales at only 2.48 pounds (1.12kg). That's pretty heavy even for a 13-inch laptop, so it might get tiring to haul this convertible notebook around everywhere.

HP Pavilion x2 12 review

Because the tablet section is thinner, it looks significantly less lopsided and it even helps balance the system while using the device as a laptop. The 2-in-1 laptop feels much more balanced on my lap and has less of a tendency of tipping backwards. And by nature of being thinner, it also feels better to use the screen section as a standalone tablet.

That said, the Surface Pro 4 is far thinner convertible tablet measuring 0.52 inches (13mm) thick (plus weighing 2.37 pounds or 1.07kg) with its keyboard base attached.

HP Pavilion x2 12 review

Specifications and pricing

The Pavilion x2 also comes with expanded specs options. On top of the larger 1,920 x 1,280 resolution display, the hybrid will come in two models that can either include an Intel Atom processor with a 64 GB eMMC or 6th generation Intel Core M CPU with 128 GB or 256 GB SSD storage. And to round it out the device, HP says users will be able to squeeze about 8 hours of battery life out of its 12-inch convertible.

The 12.1-inch HP Pavilion x2 is expected to be available on February 7, and you'll be able to pick up the device on the company's website or select retailers for a starting price at $499 (about £337, AU$683).

HP Pavilion x2 12 review

Early verdict

The Pavilion x2 12 packs in everything I loved about the HP's original budget hybrid in a bigger package, so naturally I have high hopes for this device. The new 3:2 screen makes it even more suited for work and quick media work even if it comes at the cost of thick black bars when watching widescreen movies.

Thanks to thinning out the device, it also feels more stable while using it as a laptop and balanced as a tablet. The higher-resolution display and more powerful processor options are extra icing on what appears to be an excellent budget 2-in-1 laptop. While I'm pleased from my first impressions, I need to put this affordable hybrid through the rigors of everyday usage before I can confidently say this is a device you must get this February.

What is a hands on review?

'Hands on reviews' are a journalist's first impressions of a piece of kit based on spending some time with it. It may be just a few moments, or a few hours. The important thing is we have been able to play with it ourselves and can give you some sense of what it's like to use, even if it's only an embryonic view. For more information, see TechRadar's Reviews Guarantee.