Before now we've seen some tablet-style desktop replacements that, let's face it, have been so big and bulky that they had little appeal. But in the latest HP Envy x2 13- and 15-inch models the company has created a viable desktop-replacement home office solution. And the reason is simple: Intel Core M architecture means a slim, fanless design.
Now these devices aren't going to be for everyone. After all a 15-inch "tablet" isn't really a tablet at all, but as a laptop alternative we were rather impressed by the Envy x2.
Either Envy x2 model comes complete with an included keyboard dock that, in the case of the 15-inch model, can fold out to act as a soft wrist pad - and it's really comfy to type on. The 13-inch model doesn't have the larger wrist-rest area, but as is true with both the trackpad scale and full size keys feel natural to use.
Connecting the keyboard dock to the device is a cinch too as it just pops into place by one centralised magnetic connector. There's also a stylus pen held within a material loupe - we'd have preferred it to be integrated in the body, but that's now of such a thin design that it probably wouldn't fit into the machine itself.
Design-wise the choice of materials in the x2 look and feel quality. We've said it about some HP products before now, but there's an essence of MacBook about these devices - and we mean that in a positive way. The metal frame looks quality and isn't too reflective or distracting; it also houses the BeatsAudio speaker grilles in a sensible forward-facing position.
Should you not be a keyboard fan, or just want to stow it away, then the firm hinge on the rear adjusts a built-in kick stand through multiple degrees for using Windows 8.1 in its touchscreen form. Whether you want a near-flat or an almost-upright position we found the metal stand easy to manipulate and sturdy enough to hold the weight. The IPS panel display means wide viewing angles without a loss of colour or contrast too.
The touchscreen felt responsive, although typing on a 15.6-inch screen was less natural for us compared to what we're used to. The 13-inch model made more sense in this department, plus it's lighter and easier to handle as a dedicated tablet-esque device.
Full details and purchase options for the HP Envy x2 haven't yet been disclosed. We were using a device with 8GB RAM to keep things nippy, but the Intel Core M processor frequency isn't as impressive as Intel Core i - the Core M-5Y10 delivers at 0.8GH.
The HP Envy x2 15-inch starts at $900, while the smaller and (presumably more powerful) 13-inch model starts at $950, both "coming soon". We expect UK pricing to be a similar dollar-for-pound equivalent. Looks like the Envy x2 with Intel Core M might be worth the wait if you're in the market for a desktop replacement.