HP announces Envy X2 tablet-laptop hybrid device with Windows 8

HP's Envy X2 turns into a tablet via a detachable screen

Hewlett-Packard has announced an Envy X2 tablet-laptop hybrid device with the Windows 8 OS, signaling the company's re-entry into the consumer tablet market, which it abandoned after the highly publicized failure of its TouchPad product.

At first glance, the HP Envy X2 resembles a netbook, with a keyboard base and an 11.6-inch touch display. But the device turns into a tablet once the screen is detached from the base.

"When I want it to, it can also be a great tablet," said David Conrad, director of product management at HP.

The benefit of a hybrid device is it offers the best of both worlds for Windows 8, which doubles as a tablet and PC operating system, Conrad said. The tablet is 8.5 millimeters thick and 680 grams, and the display shows images at a 1366-by-768-pixel resolution.

The Envy X2 runs on Intel's low-power Atom processor code-named Clover Trail. The device will be sold with the keyboard base and 64GB of solid-state drive storage, and the configuration cannot be customized. Conrad said the device will become available during the latter part of the holiday season this year and will compete with hybrid devices that have been announced by PC makers like Asus, Acer, Lenovo and Samsung. Windows 8 will start shipping commercially on Oct. 26.

Though the device can operate independently as a tablet, HP views it as a laptop first and people have to buy the keyboard base, Conrad said. The dock has an SD card slot, USB ports and a high-definition multimedia interface (HDMI) port. The device has two batteries -- one in the base and the other in the tablet. The device offers more than eight hours of battery life in laptop mode. It has NFC capabilities, a high-definition webcam on the front and an 8.0-megapixel camera on the back. An optional stylus is available.

With this hybrid device, HP re-enters the consumer tablet market after it discontinued sales of webOS devices including the TouchPad. HP has reset its tablet strategy around Windows 8 OS.

HP also announced touchscreen ultrabooks with Windows 8 including the Spectre XT Touchsmart ultrabook, which is the company's first laptop with a Thunderbolt port. Thunderbolt is a high-speed interconnect technology developed by Intel to shuttle data between host PCs and external peripherals.

The ultrabook has a 15.6-inch, high-definition touchscreen and a choice of Intel's third-generation Core processor. It is 17.9 millimeters thick and weighs 2.16 kilograms. The laptop also features USB 3.0, Ethernet and HDMI ports.

The laptop will become available in the U.S. in December starting at US$1,399. HP did not immediately provide information on worldwide availability.

HP's Envy Touchsmart Ultrabook 4 has a 14-inch touchscreen and a choice of Intel's latest Core processors. The ultrabook weighs 2.16 kilograms and offers up to eight hours of battery life. An optional Advanced Micro Devices graphics card can be added to the ultrabook to boost graphics capabilities. The company did not immediately provide availability and pricing for the product.

Agam Shah covers PCs, tablets, servers, chips and semiconductors for IDG News Service. Follow Agam on Twitter at @agamsh. Agam's e-mail address is agam_shah@idg.com

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