A Two-In-One Hybrid for Enterprise – A HP Pro x2 612 G1 Review

December 23, 2014 at 9:51 pm by

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For those who have to carry around a large heavy laptop design for desk operation this can be quite tedious. Furthermore, while on a business trip a computer is required for daily emails, PowerPoints, and other related tasks, so a smartphone won’t suffice.

While businesses are beginning to transition into the era of tablets, it spawns a new concern as when the employee has returned to the office, they are surrounded by a desk, monitor, mouse and keyboard, but cannot use any of these on their tablet.

Although some tablets, like the Microsoft Surface, make a good attempt at replacing the laptop, its smaller screen and somewhat flimsy keyboard may not win some users over.

In a push to remove the old fashioned laptops that businesses use today, HP has been unveiling new enterprise laptops, ones that should suffice for all the needs of employees. Previously, I took a look at the HP Elitebook Folio 1040 and its outstanding form factor that I enjoyed.

With the Folio 1040 being a top of the line product designed for CEOs and VPs, HP has shifted their approach to the traveling work force by giving them an option that they may find suitable. Designed for those who seek a tablet, but wish to enjoy the benefits of a laptop, the HP Pro x2 612 G1 attempts to bring together the best of both worlds.

Welcome to my HP Pro x2 612 G1 review. Throughout this in-depth review, I will be covering the following topics: the ergonomics, the specifications, functionality, and my overall thoughts. I would like to thank HP for providing me with the Pro x2 for this review.

The Ergonomics

As mentioned in the title, the Pro x2 uses a hybrid design by having the ability to become a tablet when you want it and a laptop when you need it.

The two-in-one design enables users to detach the entire screen and travel to their desired location. The display uses a full ten-finger touch screen as well as having an outstanding stylus that supports mouse hovering and left click.

The tablet itself weights 0.92kg and measures in at 30.7 x 20.95 x 1.28 cm. While you can certainly hold the device with one hand, using the tablet with only one hand isn’t really feasible. The 12.5” display that makes desk operation aceptable is what cripples tablet usage for long periods. The included stylus boosts your functionality as you can be precise in your actions, but in a landscape setting it can become tiring over time. Reading mode changes things a bit with the weight being readjusted and provides a better grip for your hand. One ergonomic add-on I would like to see, is an optional case for the tablet, one that has a hand strap so that you can hold the tablet from the back rather than the sides.

Furthermore, the tablet contains all of the necessary I/O ports located at the bottom of the unit. Users will find a Windows 8 start button, the stylus slot, a 4G LTE SIM slot, microSD expansion, one full sized USB port, a microphone/headphone combo jack followed by a secondary power jack. The back of the tablet contains a power switch (not a button), volume controls, and a screen rotation lock. Additionally, the right side has a smart card reader for added security.

Moving to the Power Keyboard, the tablet attaches onto two plastic clips and uses a docking port to transfer power and controls. The attachment clips are quite sturdy and hold onto the tablet even when the tablet is shaken, pulled on, or when repositioning the screen. To release the tablet, a single press on the release button allows you to pull off the tablet from the sides, not from the top.

When attached to the keyboard, the dimensions adjust to 31.7 x 23.95 x 2.33 cm. However, it remains light enough to carry around. One dislike I had was that opening the device is nearly impossible with one hand. The hinge is very strong and two hands are required to force the tablet open. A simple fix would be to include an indented lip on the keyboard to allow your fingers to grip the tablet.

Finally, the keyboard itself supports fully backlit keys and uses long enter, backspace, and shift keys. Additionally, the keyboard has function keys for volume, brightness, and Wi-Fi. The construction of the keyboard is plastic, but is still quite rigid because it does not have any hardware inside. The touchpad on the keyboard is a tad small and the right and left click buttons tend to be loud when pressed. Ports on the keyboard include two USB 3.0 ports, a DisplayPort, microphone/headphone combo jack, power in port, a VGA output and Ethernet. Users can also choose to attach the keyboard to an HP laptop dock.

The Specifications

In an environment where most users will be using Microsoft Office and Adobe Acrobat, the Pro x2 is well suited for daily operation. The hybrid design of the Pro x2 means all of the hardware is located inside the tablet rather than the keyboard, like a traditional laptop.

It begins with the 64bit Windows 8.1 operating system that is preloaded onto the device. While downgrades are available for IT groups that still use Windows 7, I find that the Pro x2 was well designed to meet the concept that was Windows 8. The 64bit inclusion is another benefit as it eliminates the slowness of some applications in a 32bit environment, like Photoshop.

Next, the Pro x2 is powered by an Intel i5-4320Y vPro processor running at a base speed of 1.6GHz, but increased to 2.0GHz when under load. To simulate an extreme workload on the Pro x2, I found that the i5-4320Y handled itself quite well even under a stress test. Applications opened smoothly, internet browsing was quick, and heat output reached a maximum of 136 °F on the processor during the stress test.

Due to the compact hardware design, the Pro x2 does support a CPU fan to ensure a cool operation. While in a quiet room the fan can be loud, but the fan only turned on once two or more applications were opened.

Running in a dual channel operation, the 8GB of memory is a must have in today’s machines. While 4GB will suffice, including 8GB gives the user unlimited range on what they can do on the machine. During the stress testing, a large load was placed upon the memory and still the machine ran smoothly at a maximum DRAM frequency of 798.4 MHz.

When it comes to the display, the Pro x2 uses a wonderful IPS panel and is powered by the built-in Intel Graphics chip. The Intel 4200 GPU uses the full potential of the 1920 x 1080 60Hz monitor and I concluded that colors, videos, and movies all appeared to be fine on the device.

For storage, HP uses a Micro Technology 256GB (240GB is usable) M.2 Solid State Drive. Although SSDs are quick and run quietly, I found that the performance of the drive wasn’t as beneficial as some may believe. Startup times were average and applications opened in an appropriate timing, but not nothing that was instant.

Finally, powering this entire unit is a 4-cell 29.6 Li-ion battery that is combined with a 2-cell Li-ion battery inside the detachable keyboard. Windows reported at least two hours during a stress test while on battery, but I found that the unit would last hours when doing normal tasks. HP claims fifteen hours with both the keyboard and tablet, but I would say more around ten hours while using the unit non-stop.

One thing to note is that HP offers the Pro x2 in three other specification setups. While my model is the top of the range, HP offers a lesser i5 model as well as two models which run an i3 specification. Of course, the price is adjusted for each model and a comparison can be found here.

Functionality

For over a month I have been using the Pro x2 for daily operation to simulate the average worker and traveler. One thing I quickly noticed was the fact that I used the unit as one rather than switching to the tablet.

When using just the tablet itself, it was easy to navigate the web while using the included stylus. Typing becomes more of a bother, as you need to use the built-in Windows 8 touch keyboard, and therefore, switch from using the stylus to your fingers.

The weight of the tablet and holding it upright didn’t bother me as much when I could place it on a table or on my lap, but when moving to a new location it wasn’t something I wanted to stand and use, but certainly easier to use rather than holding a standard laptop.

I expect most users to do as I did and mainly use the keyboard/tablet combo. It works perfectly when placed on a desk as your hands can rest and the keyboard is pleasurable to type on. When placed on top of your lap, things change, as the tablet makes the unit top heavy. If you are not careful, you may experience the tablet falling backwards, but moving the screen towards you does overcome this issue. Moreover, the IPS panel allows you to adjust the screen positioning without color shifts.

The speakers of the Pro x2 are loud enough, but sadly face away from you as they are located on the back of the tablet. When the volume was turned down, I found myself doing what most do with their phone and cupping my hand to redirect the sound waves, or use a headset.

For those who end up in many conference rooms and have the low battery warning appearing, the included power cable is long enough to reach an outlet away from the table. HP also includes a handy Velcro strap to hold things tightly.

Being a part of the HP business suite, the Pro x2 come with HP’s security enhancements that protect the user against all types of malware. HP includes HP Sure Start, HP BIOS Sphere, HP Client Security 5, and an optional finger print scanner on the tablet to log into the device.

Another bonus for travelers, the Pro x2 has the option to use a 4G LTE SIM card for network connectivity. By using the onboard Qualcomm Gobi chip, users can connect to the 4G network for a constant connection to nearly any location in the US.

In the end, I find that HP’s intent of eliminating all business laptops was a good start with the Pro x2. While my usage stuck to the traditional usage of a laptop, the Pro x2 can certainly improve the work of the traveler and provide them with a better experience.

My Overall Thoughts

HP’s Pro x2 612 G1 makes for a functional and powerful hybrid in the business world. It satisfies the people who seek both a tablet and laptop, plus its travel ability is superb. While some design aspects need to be adjusted, the Pro x2 receives a recommendation from me for any IT group looking to update their units. With pricing ranging from $800 to $1450, HP offers configurations for both light and heavy demanding users.

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