HP’s pricey new iPad Pro competitor totally misses the point

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HP Chromebook x2
The HP Chromebook x2 just doesn’t make sense.
Photo: HP

Android tablets were never going to topple the iPad, so now Apple’s rivals are trying their luck with new slates powered by Chrome OS. HP is the latest to throw its hat into the ring with the Chromebook x2, a pricey competitor to iPad Pro that ships with a detachable keyboard and stylus.

It’s somewhat attractive, but it makes no sense at $599.

Android might be the biggest mobile operating system on the planet, but it has never been able to compete with the iPad’s incredible library of tablet apps. No matter how good the hardware is, then, a tablet that doesn’t carry an Apple logo just isn’t as good.

Some manufacturers have finally recognized this, so they’re trying a new approach with Chrome OS. Acer was one of the first to market with a Chrome OS tablet just weeks ago, and HP has followed with the flagship Chromebook x2.

HP takes on iPad Pro

The Chromebook x2 boasts a 12.3-inch display with a 2400×1600 resolution, and is powered by an Intel Core m3 processor — the same chip found inside a MacBook. It’s also packing 4GB of RAM as standard (8GB is an option, too), 32GB of storage, stereo speakers, and a 13-megapixel camera.

HP has provided two USB-C ports for connectivity, a headphone jack, and a microSD card slot for storage expansion. The company promises 10.5 hours of battery life in between charges, which is ever so slightly more — half an hour more — than you get out of iPad Pro.

The Chromebook x2 ships with a detachable keyboard and stylus, unlike the iPad Pro, which makes its $599 price tag seem a little easier to swallow. The most affordable iPad Pro starts at $649, but you’ll have to fork out an additional $260 for a Smart Keyboard and Apple Pencil.

Nevertheless, it still difficult to justify a $600 Chrome OS tablet.

A $600 Chromebook makes no sense

Chrome OS currently suffers from the same problem as Android — it doesn’t offer great tablet software. All of its applications, with the exception of some Android apps, are web-based. All the apps and games that make iPad so spectacular simply aren’t available.

This makes the Chromebook x2 seem like a bad move for HP. The success of Chromebooks has been almost entirely based on their ultra-affordable price tags; consumers can stomach web-based apps when they don’t have to fork out a great deal to gain access to them.

But it seems unlikely people will be scrambling to spend $600 on a Chrome OS device, no matter how impressive its hardware. That’s especially true now that you can get an iPad with Apple Pencil support for $329 — or just $299 if you’re in education.