Hands-on with the HP Envy x2 always connected PC (video)

A year after Windows 10 on ARM was first revealed, Microsoft and Qualcomm have finally taken the wraps off of the first two "Always Connected PCs." Neither is available just yet, but we were recently able to get some hands-on time with HP's offering, the HP Envy x2.

The HP Envy x2 is a Surface-like tablet PC running on Qualcomm's Snapdragon 835 processor. That allows HP to achieve instant-on capabilities, in addition to claims of up to 20 hours of battery life and LTE connectivity. Support for Windows Hello facial recognition and active pen inking are also on board, and the whole experience comes out of the box powered by Windows 10 S.

There's no pricing available just yet, but HP says it plans to release the Envy x2 sometime in spring 2018. The Envy x2 will also be joined by the ASUS NovaGo, another "Always Connected PC" with which we also recently had a chance to go hands-on.

Dan Thorp-Lancaster

Dan Thorp-Lancaster is the former Editor-in-Chief of Windows Central. He began working with Windows Central, Android Central, and iMore as a news writer in 2014 and is obsessed with tech of all sorts. You can follow Dan on Twitter @DthorpL and Instagram @heyitsdtl

  • Nice looking device, NOW WITH PEN LOOP! The demo was under control of the HP rep, but what I'd want to see is how it is "always connected," how it swtiches from Wi-Fi to LTE and back and how easy all of that is to configure.
  • How does your phone handle switching between LTE and Wi-Fi? I imagine it would be similar.
  • Spot on, you don't even notice or look at this transition when you're using a celluar device. Outside the house it uses LTE or a hotspot, and as soon as you get home it automatically prefers your home or work wireless. It all should be invisible to the end user if properly configured.
  • So many things I want to find out about this HP and the ASUS device. Most important real world perfomance of this device with both windows 10 S and windows 10 pro. No nonsense about adapting testing these devices to a target audience. Full testing with UWP and legacy apps (not project centennial!!!) Just honest real world testing for a wide variety of consumer and business users ranging from creators, to desktop secretorial use, business, and student usecase (in this case also emphasizing pen input and tablet mode performance with the device over a day's use). I would also like it benchmarked compared to an atom and m3 pc and the frist gen core i5 surface pro. I heard somewhere the camera is 13 mpix! curious how that performs! At 13 mpix I think the camera will be a relevant feature then. Very curious to know about the stylus performance. Is it wacom, is it n-trig, is it proprietary (does it need a battery?)? And off course, will this device be fixable and outlast two years of use (I generally don't buy a pc every two years, it's got to work at least 5-10 years)?
  • " Most important[ly] real world perfomance of this device with both windows 10 S and windows 10 pro. " Yeah, performance will be interesting, but there will be no difference between W10S and the more traditional editions of Windows (Home, Pro, Enterprise). Many people incorrectly assume W10S is a "slimmed down" version of W10, but if anything it's the opposite. It's identical to W10 Pro with an ADDED "security" feature, which prevents W10S from running Win32 installers or launching any program that wasn't delivered through the store. There is literally nothing that ships with W10 Pro that doesn't ship with W10 S, so it's not slimmed down at all. MS can't remove anything from W10S compared to W10 Pro, because Win32 software, that is distributed through the store with the help of the desktop bridge, requeires all the same OS components that W10 Pro requires to run that same Win32 software. What W10S can do is prevent people from installing crap from the internet (addware, spyware, etc). That will help maintain a Windows installation in good working order and help prevent a lot of the registry rot Windows traditionally suffers from. In that sense W10 S can help keep a Windows installation running smoothly, in ways W10 Pro can't, but the OS itself is neither slower or faster than W10 Pro.
  • delete (double post)
  • What is the difference between legacy win32 apps and Centennial apps in the store in terms of performance?
  • @jm2c. Exactly zero. There is no difference in performance at all. A bridged app (the more correct term for "Centennial app") is also a legacy app, just with a different wrapper. Think of it like this: Ham sandwhich in a paper wrapper = "legacy" Win32 app with a traditional Win32 installer Ham sandwhich in a plastic wrapper = "legacy" Win32 app which leverages the desktop bridge (Centennial) to make it distributable/installable via the MS Store. In the analogy, the sandwhich wrappers ensure you can easily and cleanly transport the sandwhich to the place where you intend to consume it. Similarly, the Win32 installer or appx wrapper allows the software/app to be correctly installed on the user's computer. The plastic wrapper is more modern, just like the APPX wrapper is more modern than the installer, but the sandwhich inside is the same. Being the exact same thing, there is no reason to even expect one to perform differently than the other. At heart, the software itself is identical, only the wrappers differ. Win32 software that is wrapped in an APPX wrapper using the desktop bridge (Centennial) can simultaneously access both the older Win32 and newer UWP APIs. If a developer decides to do that, then the software is no longer identical to the pure Win32 version. A developer might do this to support UWP specific features (like Windows Hello, or the ability to support a compositable UI that can adapt to different screen sizes). That's about features however. Having a different feature-set can obviously impact performance, but that is independent of the use of the desktop bridge (Centennial). The Enpass Password manager is a practical example of this. This post correctly describes their situation: https://discussion.enpass.io/index.php?/topic/2130-pre-release-version-o... They have their traditional Win32 application with installer. They also have their Centennial (a.k.a. bridged) edition, which leverages the newer UWP API to provide integration with the MS Edge browser, a feature which can't be realized using only the Win32 API. Otherwise both versions are pracitcally identical. Performance is identical. Enpass also maintains a real UWP version, which is the only version of Enpass that isn't based on the legacy Win32 API.
  • That's a great analogy. Well done! 
  • There is none. Centennial apps are just repacked Win32 apps that have access to Win10 APIs.
  • To nitpick, Windows 10 S is also missing the registry editor, GPO editor, Command Prompt, and PowerShell, as well as a few other services. But yes, other than that, there is literally no difference between S and Home, other than the Store-only policy.
  • @josh, I don't consider that nitpicking. Those are good points. I just don't consider end-user apps to be part of the OS. They ship with the OS, true, but they aren't part of the OS anymore than MS office is. More importantly, including or not including them has no affect on performance
  • if you using just uwp/store app performance should be about the same in s or pro
  • Looking forward to the 835 vs. Atom Cherry Trail, Core M/Y, Core i3 benches.... if Qualcomm continues to increase performance 25-30% annually with a $75-85 SOC, Intel could feel some major pressure within 2 years. Intel's pricing of core M/Y has always been insane.
  • Nice avatar! ;-) Yeah, I think those performance comparisons will be tricky to do well though. As I understand it, running x86 software will incure a large overhead when it is launched for the fist time, as that is when a large chunk of the x86 binary is translated into an ARM binary. Whatever isn't executed during startup isn't translated, so that will stick around to be translated at a later time when the user does something that actually accesses that chunk of code for the fist time. Benchmarking this in a way that actually gives us an apples to apples comparison is far beyond what the average consumer tech website is capable of delivering. I expect a lot of BS performance comparisons to hit the web soon.
  • These are not directed at enterprise are they?  Consumer oriented devices from the get go.  Wonder if Microsoft plans the same or will stick to a Surface like--Enterprise focus for their next Always connected device...
  • nice device!
  • honestly if it had maybe a usb port id buy this in a heartbeat. but i get why they'd have to obnly be able to give you usb-c at 6.9 MM OF THICKNESS!!!!!!!!!!!!! THATS INSANE!!!! Gosh this legit looks gorgeous and perfect. I want.
  • The worst sales person ive seen at a tech event :/
  • She was knowlegeable and presented the device cogently. The problem is.....what exactly?
  • Waiting for more hands on experience and detail review. Looks good though
  • Wow, is that a Surface type cover clone!  I want a 6.5" version that can make calls and fit in my pocket :)
  • Interesting device! It's a start ofcourse, but will windows on ARM work on more SOC's than Snapdragons in the end (at the moment it's more like windows on Snapdragon)? It would be interesting if NVidia would make a new Tegra soc with some GPU power for windows on ARM.
  • I hope we also see support for Mediatek socs, then we will truly see market place proliferation of cheap windows on arm tablets.
  • Should be really good, I was able to use a Surface 2 for most day to day activities running all native ARM code so the performance of those tasks should be excellent with a much more advanced ARM SoC powering the device with the added capabilities of x86 apps in a pinch.  Browser, Office (Word, Excel, PPT, ect.), standard utilities and functions all running native ARM code with pretty much Core m single core performance, better than Core m multicore performamce, and 20 +/- hours of runtime should make for a iPad like Windows device which will only get better with time.   The Snapdragon 845 cranks it up a notch and I would expect to see devices in the second half sporting the 845.   These will be devices that 80-90% of the population could use a their only device. 
  • As you mentioned, the Surface 2 was already excellent with native Apps like Office. With Snapdragon 835 we are looking at 2xCPU performance and something like 5xGPU performance compared to Surface 2  - and a silimar speed-up compared to Cherrytrail Atom. So I`d say these first batch of Snadragon 835 devices are already sufficient performance wise for 80-9% of the population, even for those who found Atom to slow.
  • I want that. I want it now. Listen up HP, where do I send my wallet to?  
  • Spring 2018 for Launch... why... just why lol.  
  • Ummm...I’m gonna need Michael Fisher and company to look into this before I approve... lol #staymobilefriends
  • i have a Surface 3 is this a good "upgrade"