HP ZBook x2

A 2-IN-1 WORK­STA­TION THAT PRO­VIDES WIN­DOWS PC US­ABIL­ITY TO DE­SIGN­ERS RE­QUIR­ING HIGH-END GRAPH­ICS TABLET FUNC­TION­AL­ITY

PC & Tech Authority - - CONTENTS - NICK ROSS

HP’s ZBook X2 G4 re­sem­bles the off­spring of an HP 2-in-1 work­sta­tion and a Wa­com graph­ics tablet. While it looks like a bulky, in­dus­trial-in­spired lap­top-tablet combo, it’s a su­per-niche de­vice for graph­ics pro­fes­sion­als who want more PC func­tion­al­ity than pro­fes­sional graph­ics tablets usu­ally pro­vide.

HP of­fers many SKUs of the ZBook. Ours came with a mod­est 1.9GHz Core i7-8650U quad-core pro­ces­sor, a gen­er­ous 32GB of 2,400MHz RAM and a 512GB NVMe hard disk: a con gu­ra­tion that’s op­ti­mised for graph­ics work. In reg­u­lar PC terms, it’s midrange as its mod­est PCMark 10 score of 3,272 at­tests to, but then work­sta­tions tend to be op­ti­mised for cer­tain tasks at the ex­pense of gen­eral, bench­mark­able per­for­mance.

Ev­ery­thing re­volves around the bright, 14-inch IPS screen which boasts a full, 4K res­o­lu­tion of 3,840 x 2,160. It’s uni­formly lit and while there’s some light bleed around the edges you need to be at full bright­ness on a black screen to see it. HP calls its screen tech­nol­ogy, DreamColor and this as­cribes a 10-bit panel. In re­al­ity it’s an 8-bit panel which sim­u­lates 10-bit re­pro­duc­tion us­ing dy­namic frame-rates to syn­the­size 10-bit but the 10-bit cal­cu­la­tions in the back­ground are still ac­cu­rate.

The screen also sup­ports 100 per cent of the Adobe RGB colour space and the DreamColor tech­nol­ogy of­fers pro les for other gamuts. It can’t cover all of them – it sup­ports 90 per cent of the top-end, P3 colour space – but you can con­nect the ZBook to an ex­ter­nal mon­i­tor via HDMI or Thun­der­bolt when you need more sup­port.

The matte screen has also been chem­i­cally etched which both re­duces glare and pro­vides a tex­tured feel that en­hances use of the Wa­com EMR (elec­tro-mag­netic res­o­nance) sty­lus tech­nol­ogy. And it works: in com­bi­na­tion with the screen, the sup­plied sty­lus sup­ports up to 4,096 pres­sure lev­els and feels ex­tremely comfortable and ac­cu­rate for even the dain­ti­est vir­tual brush­work. Just note that the tech­nol­ogy means that only HP’s sty­lus (which has no bat­tery and draws power from the screen) is fully-com­pat­i­ble. There’s also only one but­ton on it which may be lim­it­ing to air­brush­ers and some CAD work­ers.

The bezel is very thick but this aids han­dling in tablet mode. There are 12 but­tons (six on ei­ther side of the screen) which are par­tic­u­larly handy when used as graph­ics ap­pli­ca­tion short­cuts. Sen­sors in the screen and the pen en­sure that Its chunky style is def­i­nitely more in­dus­trial than de­signer. Note the but­tons on the bezel edge sty­lus-based, tilt-re­lated in­puts are recorded ac­cu­rately.

There’s a (very) solid stand prop­ping the screen up – it may feel a bit over­sized and chunky to some but it pro­vides very steady sup­port.

The key­board is con­nected mag­net­i­cally and re­mains op­er­a­tional via Blue­tooth when dis­con­nected. It’s comfortable to type on for ex­tended pe­ri­ods and most im­por­tant keys are full-sized. The track­pad felt par­tic­u­larly sen­si­tive. Though it’s con­nected via a tough fab­ric, it’s part of a solid, plas­tic base and feels ro­bust with min­i­mal ex.

Other fea­tures in­clude Bang & Olufsen-tuned speak­ers but they’re dis­ap­point­ingly tinny and don’t get loud. HP also of­fers mul­ti­ple se­cu­rity fea­tures in­clud­ing a Smart Card reader and a Trusted Plat­form Mod­ule.

It’s not the most por­ta­ble ma­chine at 2.2KG but it’s ro­bust enough to with­stand some se­ri­ous knocks. How­ever, it’s worth not­ing that bat­tery life is medi­ocre: it only ran PCMark’s bat­tery test for three hours which is likely a con­se­quence of the mostly-on work­sta­tion graph­ics.

Don’t ex­pect work­sta­tion graph­ics to eas­ily han­dle games ei­ther. The Zbook scored just 1,473 in 3DMark’s Fire Strike Ex­treme test which rep­re­sents an av­er­age of just three frames per sec­ond. A Cloud Gate score of 13,117 shows it will cheer­fully play older games though.

Ma­chines like this can’t please ev­ery­body, but this is no Jack of all trades. It’s a de­cent 2-in-1 in its own right and, while its graph­ics tablet prow­ess can’t match the best ded­i­cated de­vices, it still of­fers the high-end de­sign-ori­ented fea­tures that will sate most graphic de­sign­ers.

KEY SPECS

1.9GHz In­tel Core i7-8650U CPU • 32GB DDR4-2400 SDRAM • Nvidia Quadro M620 GPU • 500GB NVMe SSD • 14in 3,840 x 2,160 IPS dis­play • HD we­b­cam • 6MP cam­era • 2x USB 3.1/Thun­der­bolt Type-C • USB 3.0 Type-A • HDMI 2.0 • SD card reader • 3.5mm au­dio jack • 3yrs war­ranty $6,999 • www.hp.com.au

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