A generic monitor not specifically designed for photography isn’t going to deliver the colour quality we seek. Processing images on the BenQ SW271 gives the user a stunningly vivid colour range.
HP Pro x2 410G Notebook PC
A Windows 8.1 tablet and notebook device that runs a fan-less Core i5 CPU
- Quiet performer
- Comfortable keyboard
- HDMI, SD, USB 3.0 in the base
- Top-heavy design
- Relatively short battery life despite two batteries
HP's predominantly business-oriented Pro x2 410G has a fan-less Core i5 CPU that gives it good grunt and quiet operation. Overall, it's not bad as a tablet, and kind of good as a notebook. But it has a top-heavy design that can be annoying if you want to use it in your lap.
Price$ 1,499.00 (AUD)
HP’s Pro x2 410 G1 (G2F63PA) is notebook PC for those of you who also want a Windows 8.1-based tablet. While it features a clamshell design for regular laptop operation, its 11.6in screen can be detached and used on its own as a tablet. All of the processing power resides in the tablet portion of the product, with the base being a holder of a few more ports and some extra battery life.
Design, battery life, and specs
When the tablet is attached to the base and used as a laptop, the unit uses up power from the base first, and then from the tablet. If the battery in the base is full and the battery in the tablet is depleted, then the base will also charge the tablet. The batteries aren’t big, though, with both of them being of the 2-cell variety (28 watt-hour for the tablet and 21 watt-hour for the base) and combining to give the unit 5hr 15min of life in our rundown test, in which we disable power management, enable Wi-Fi, maximise screen brightness, and loop a video file.
On its own, the tablet lasted 2hr 36min in the same test, so it’s not a great result for a mobile device. You will get more out of it depending on the workloads you run and the brightness level you use. If it was an Intel Atom-based product, it would have lasted longer. However, the Pro x2 410 G1 is aimed at users who need more grunt for everyday office work and multitasking. As such, it ships with an Intel Core i5-4202Y CPU, which runs at 1.6GHz and has two cores and Hyper-Threading.
That CPU is one of Intel’s low-power Core i5 mobile chips (maximum thermal design power is 11.5W), and its highlight is that it can be cooled passively. If you pay attention to the Pro x2 when it’s running, you can’t hear any fan noise. Only a heat sink is installed to cool the CPU, and there aren’t even any noticeable vent holes in the tablet’s frame from which warm air can escape. We didn’t feel any great heat coming from the tablet during our tests, though the bottom of the unit did get warm towards the mid-section when we looped the Blender 3D rendering benchmark for a while.
In that benchmark, a time of 1min 9sec was achieved, which is indicative of a machine that’s zippy. Even during regular usage while browsing the Web, listening to music, running Windows 8.1 apps, and viewing photos, the unit never felt like it was struggling. For basic office tasks such as document creation, email, viewing documents, previewing multimedia files, and using Skype or other online communications, it will be fine.
Graphics are handled by the CPU (Intel HD 4200-based graphics), and there is 4GB of RAM. The tablet we saw had a 128GB solid state drive (SSD) installed, and it’s one of the faster ones we’ve seen in this tablet form factor. In CrystalDiskMark, it recorded a read rate of 491.1 megabytes per second (MBps), and a write rate of 326.9MBps. It’s the sort of result we’d be glad to see in a regular laptop, let alone a relatively small hybrid tablet device.
As a tablet, the HP Pro x2 is a mixed bag. It’s well made, but it tends to feel a little too big and bulky to hold for long periods of time. Its screen has a bog-standard resolution of 1366x768, and it has passable viewing angles and brightness. We didn’t have any issues using the screen in either horizontal or portrait orientation, though reflections off the glossy finish were sometimes irritating. There is a wide bezel around the screen so that you can hold it with ease, and there is a capacitive Windows key on the bottom-front.
There isn’t much on the tablet itself as far as connectivity is concerned. The most you get is a headset port and a microSD card slot for adding some extra storage. A power port is also present at the bottom, along with a couple of slots that enable the tablet to lock firmly in its keyboard base. You’ll have to use the Pro x2 as a notebook if you want to make use of the full-sized HDMI port and USB ports that reside on the base. It also has a full-sized SD card slot. With the USB ports, only the one on the right side is of the USB 3.0 specification, with the one on the left being plain old USB 2.0.
Like most hybrid products of this type, the Pro x2 has a top-heavy design that you need to keep in mind. The tablet weighs 837g on its own, while the base weighs 835g — together they tip the scales at 1.599kg. If you use the Pro x2 on your lap like a regular notebook, be aware that it can easily tip backwards and perhaps fall on the floor. It’s advisable to keep your hands on the palm rest so that it doesn’t have a chance to lean back. Your best bet is to use this notebook on a desk, rather than in your lap.
The keyboard is a good one for long periods of typing. It has keys that are large, soft, and quiet. The base actually lifts up a little at the back more than the front, which gives the keyboard an angle that makes it more comfortable for typing on a flat surface. There is a decent touchpad installed, too.
Other features of the Pro x2 410 G1 include dual-band Wi-Fi (802.11n, 2x2 antennas), Bluetooth 4.0, 2-megapixel cameras on the rear and the front, and stereo speakers that face forwards, albeit close to the bottom edge of the tablet so they can be easy to muffle.
It’s a decent unit overall, and we really like the incorporation of the fan-less Core i5 CPU, which gives the unit more of a tablet feel than other products with so much processing capability. It’s a large step up from Intel Atom-based Windows tablets in terms of performance, yet it features similar quiet (and somewhat cool) characteristics. If you’re after a Windows tablet with a good amount of performance, then it’s worth a look.
As a laptop, though, it’s top heavy, and we found this annoying, like we have in many other similar products that we’ve seen. This aspect of the design needs to be addressed by vendors like HP, even if it means making the base (and the unit overall) a little heavier. That would make laptop usage more comfortable. As it stands, the Pro x2 is best used on a desk whenever it’s intended to be used as a notebook.
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