According to Google legend, the ill-fated Pixel C was initially supposed to be a Chrome OS device. However, full touch support in Chrome OS was still too far off in the future, so Google repurposed the hardware to run Android. Now, we’re finally reaching the era of touchscreen Chrome devices. HP has just announced the world’s first Chrome OS detachable with the rather uninspiring monicker “Chromebook X2.”
As a detachable, you can use the Chromebook X2 like a laptop, or pull it free of the keyboard portion and you’ve got a tablet. The keyboard is backlit, and the hinge is self-supporting. That makes it much easier to use on the go than many detachables, which use kickstands to remain upright. The tablet portion can also be docked “backward” in the hinge to make it a convertible.
Touch support for Chrome OS has come a long way in the last few years. Stylus support is still a bit lacking, but the Chromebook X2 comes with an active stylus. Many vendors want you to pay another $ 100 or so for a stylus add-on (looking at you, Apple). HP appears to be pushing this as a less expensive alternative to the iPad Pro.
All the guts of the machine live in the tablet portion, which weighs in at 1.6 pounds. That’s heavier than most tablets, but it’s also a little larger. The display is 12.3-inches with a resolution of 2400 x 1600. The 12.9-inch iPad Pro is just a little lighter at 1.49 pounds. There’s also a 4-cell 48Wh lithium-ion battery that HP says will last you around 10.5 hours. That’s one of the advantages of Chrome OS compared with Windows — it runs for ages. There are only two USB ports, but they’re both Type-C. You can use adapters to get more ports of various types, thanks to the versatility of Type-C. You also charge the Chromebook X2 via these ports, and it supports up to 45W with the USB-PD standard.
The HP Chromebook X2 runs on an Intel Core M3 processor with a 1GHz base frequency and speed boost to 2.6GHz. There’s also 4GB of RAM and 32GB of storage. A version of the device with 8GB of RAM is planned, but there aren’t any firm details on that. 32GB might not sound like a lot, but most content in Chrome OS lives online. You can keep files locally, but file management can be clunky.
Much of that 32GB of local storage will probably be taken up with Android apps. Like other Chrome OS devices, the Chromebook X2 will ship with the Play Store. Unlike Chrome apps, the Android apps live locally on the device. This opens up a ton of additional functionality, and they make good sense on a tablet form factor like this.
The Chromebook X2 launches in June for $ 599. That’s the version with 4GB of RAM. The 8GB variant will arrive later for an undetermined price.