Built About a DreamColor Touchscreen and Wacom Stylus Tech, This PC Laptop/Tablet Admixture Is in a Chic of Its Own
When it comes to book computing, there’s consistently been a accommodation for artistic professionals. Apple fabricated a aboveboard ache at the bazaar with its iPad Pro, which provides a chic and awful carriageable advantage for pen-based input, but it avalanche a little abbreviate aback you charge a workstation — it won’t run the abounding adaptation of Adobe Photoshop, let abandoned Premiere Pro. And Microsoft souped up the carriageable acquaintance with the well-reviewed Surface Book, a high-performance Windows laptop with a book mode. Sounds great, but the able Nvidia Geforce 1060 GPU is in the keyboard — acceptation the Surface Book reverts to on-board Intel cartoon aback you use it as a tablet.
Well, HP has fabricated a bigger advertisement workstation — and not aloof incrementally better, but badly so. It offers a able carriageable accretion experience, with Nvidia Quadro cartoon accouterments abaft the screen, area it’s absolutely attainable to artists cartoon in Photoshop in book mode. It uses Wacom stylus technology, which offers a complete blow acquaintance afterwards reinventing the wheel. It’s accessible with an HP DreamColor affectation accoutrement 100% of the Adobe RGB blush gamut, and it’s the aboriginal time that’s been an advantage on a ZBook. And if that’s not acceptable abundant for you, congenital Thunderbolt 3 technology agency you can put it in a berth to drive bifold alien 4K displays.
The ZBook may not be the best carriageable workstation for best bodies — alike best creatives. For those who don’t adore cartoon on screens, its architecture is eccentric. For those who do enjoy cartoon on screens, it’s a bit abundant (and pricey, if you’re acclimated to cartoon on the iPad Pro or Surface Book). But if you’re in the bazaar for a arrangement that runs as a workstation battlefront on all cylinders while additionally absolution you advance intricate pen-to-screen visuals in Photoshop or added artistic imaging software, it’s the abandoned advantage that makes sense. It’s congenital for illustrators. A assertive brand of VFX artisan may aloof abatement in adulation with it. And, who knows — alike if you’ve never absolutely approved it, you may acquisition out that you adulation cartoon on screens, too.
The aboriginal affair you’ll apprehension about the ZBook X2, out of the box, is its about heft. This is no ultralight workstation, and cipher will anytime abash it with an iPad. The book allocation abandoned is a little added than bisected an inch blubbery and weighs about 3.6 pounds. That goes up to 0.8 inches blubbery and 4.8 pounds with the absolutely super-slim keyboard attached. In added words, it’s beefy, which has assets and minuses.
On the additional side, the system’s account does accumulate it in abode aback in use. Whether the awning is angled low to your board in cartoon approach or propped up in a added cocked agreement with keyboard attached, you don’t accept to anguish that this arrangement is activity to jerk or accelerate about as you work. On the bare side, you may anticipate alert afore bottomward about bristles pounds of computer into a bag you’re activity to be accustomed about all day, abnormally if you’ve gotten acclimated to added failing hardware.
The all-embracing architecture artful could be declared as brutalist, with HP’s advanced machined aluminum and die-cast magnesium demography the abode of the accurate shapes that authentic that architectural movement. It’s an absorbing aggregate of anatomy and function, with a ribbed angle on the base of the awning that doubles as discharge for a dual-fan cooling arrangement that keeps the arrangement absolutely air-conditioned beneath load, cartoon air in and beyond the key components. The four corners of the arrangement accept been chamfered — that is, cut off, dog-ear appearance — to actualize an octagon, a accommodation that reduces the all-embracing blockiness of the thing. And the hinged kickstand folds abroad so absolutely that you about can’t acquaint it’s there in book mode, which is a nice touch. Still, this feels array of like a aboriginal draft; approaching iterations of the architecture should be a bit sleeker.
Along the right-hand ancillary of the awning bore are the system’s ability connector, dual Thunderbolt 3 ports, an HDMI 1.4 port, a USB 3.0 port, a full-size SD agenda slot, and a fingerprint reader. On the larboard ancillary are a headphone/headset jack, ability button, and aggregate /- buttons. The rear of the awning bore has an 8-megapixel camera.
On the face of the awning module, you’ll acquisition a front-facing 720p webcam with IR sensors. Two strips of six buttons are abiding angular to the larboard and appropriate of the screen. Those are HP Quick Keys for desktop applications, and the arrangement comes loaded with presets bounden them to besom admeasurement and hardness, animadversion and zooming, etc., in Photoshop. They are a abundant help — appliance the Quick Keys is a lot faster than fussing afresh with sliders and such in the appliance interface. And they are programmable by application, so if you don’t like the defaults it’s accessible to advance your own shortcuts on a program-by-program basis.
While we’re talking about keys, it’s account acquainted that the ZBook X2’s keyboard is top-notch. It’s fantastically thin, which is important, but it charcoal conspicuously usable, alike aback accounting abroad at aerial speed, and my beef memories acclimatized bound to the blueprint and biking ambit of the keys. The touchpad is actual acknowledging as well. In my experience, the MacBook Pro is the gold accepted for keyboard touchpads, and HP’s adaptation is every bit as good. What’s more, the Bluetooth-enabled keyboard can be acclimated alike afterwards actuality alone from the display. I admired accepting the book on a board appropriate in advanced of me, with the keyboard pushed off to the larboard side so I could draw with my appropriate duke and ability over with my larboard whenever I capital to ability over and hit a accustomed adjustment key combo. Did I acknowledgment it has backlit keys? Yeah. It’s nice.
The covering affection of the arrangement is arguably the 14-inch UHD (billed as 4K, but it’s absolutely 3840 x 2160) DreamColor display. It’s a matte-style touchscreen, so it’s abundantly chargeless of the confusing reflections that affliction bright screens, and it alcove over 300 nits of accurateness — appealing good, accustomed that the ablaze has to flash through the anti-glare coating. What it loses in complete accurateness compared to a bright panel, it added than makes up in color accuracy. And the all-embracing aftereffect is absolutely compelling, visually — array of like account a book on the e-ink awning of a Kindle rather than the aglow iPad display. Profiles are accessible for sRGB/BT.709, DCI-P3, and DICOM. If you already use DreamColor monitors on your desktop, it should advice the chain of your workflow to accept DreamColor on the go, too. (At atomic you won’t accept to fix any abhorrent surprises aback you analysis your work.)
One clarification: HP has called this a 10-bit display, and it is able of announcement one billion colors but, like the $489 Z24x G2 DreamColor display, it uses a banausic ambivalent arrangement alleged anatomy amount ascendancy (or 8 2 FRC) to get there, breeding arresting colors that an eight-bit console cannot carbon directly. It’s an able system, but HP’s beyond (and added expensive) DreamColor displays are accurate 10-bit panels.
How does such a able awning handle stylus input? Elegantly. As mentioned above, HP’s ZBook X2 pen uses Wacom technology — accurately electromagnetic resonance (EMR) detection, which allows activity to breeze into the pen from the awning as you use it instead of acute a battery. As a result, the HP pen is absolutely lightweight, for bigger or worse depending on your taste. But the awning is chemically categorical to accommodate aloof a adumbration of textural acknowledgment as you move the pen’s nib around. The aftereffect is a bland cartoon acquaintance with aloof a adumbration of friction, as if you were cartoon on paper. And the pen has an eraser on the adverse end from its cartoon nib; cast it about in your duke and you can use it to abolish marks you’ve aloof made. (This affection sounds handier than it absolutely is.)
The pen butt has a distinct customizable button, which is branch preset to annals a right-click. (Some Wacom users will absence a additional button mapped to middle-click, but the Quick Keys advice in this regard.) The HP Actualize Ascendancy Console is area you configure the pen as able-bodied as those action keys on either ancillary of the screen. The pen accouterments registers 4,096 levels of pressure-sensitivity, per HP, and users are accustomed aerial ascendancy over the tip feel, double-click ambit aback appliance the pen’s tip to do a double-tap, and angle sensitivity, all of which advice punch in a feel that matches your cartoon appearance from ablaze abstraction to adventurous cartoon and painting. Similar options are accessible for the eraser, and of advance a arrangement awning is additionally available.
The affection of pen-to-screen ascribe is a key affairs agency of this system, but that’s not the end of the story. HP is affairs this as a absolutely uncompromised able workstation, and that agency there is a lot of ability beneath the hood. Nvidia Quadro M620 cartoon appear standard. Configurations alpha at $2,279 with an Intel Core i7-7500U processor and a beggarly 8 GB of RAM — if you’re activity to carapace out for a workstation in this ambit you should amusement yourself to added RAM. The arrangement I activated had an 8th-generation Intel Core i7-8650U CPU with four cores active at 2.12 GHz, a 512 GB HP Z Turbo Drive PCIe, and a abounding 32 GB of RAM — to which I say hallelujah!, as RAM is generally the basic of a carriageable workstation that users best ambition could be upgraded and 16 GB isn’t able for every workload. That said, if you feel defended with aloof 16 GB of RAM, you could save a quick $390 by downgrading. At this writing, the aforementioned arrangement was priced by HP’s online configurator at $3,623.
How does it perform? The ZBook X2 isn’t absolutely a achievement beast, but it does authority its own. I ran it through its paces appliance Maxon’s Cinebench R15 3D benchmarking software, area it becoming a middling 503 cb CPU account and a bigger 107.78 fps OpenGL score. For the account of comparison, HP’s hardly beneath big-ticket ZBook Studio G4 denticulate 730 cb on the CPU analysis and 82.31 on the OpenGL analysis aback we advised it aftermost year, authoritative that PC faster than this one on the processing ancillary but conspicuously slower area cartoon are concerned. I additionally torture-tested it by accepting it comedy aback a massive HEVC-encoded UHD video stream, which it handled capably, admitting with casual alone frames. Beneath processor-intensive codecs should comedy aback added easily. It’s a fast arrangement — but not a acceleration demon like a absolutely loaded ZBook 17.
Another point of allegory ability be the Wacom MobileStudio Pro 16, which has a beyond 15.6-inch UHD affectation and punches in the aforementioned weight chic as the ZBook X2 aback it comes to cartoon (Nvidia Quadro M1000M) but at this autograph offers abandoned 6th-generation Intel Core processors and comes up absolutely abbreviate in the affectation department, at atomic compared to the brighter and wider-gamut DreamColor display. If you can wait, the abutting bearing of the MobileStudio will absolutely accept this arrangement in its architect as it’s the new gold accepted for activating book computing.
What’s not to like? The sound. Cipher absolutely expects abundant complete from a laptop, but this one’s speakers accept Bang & Olufsen branding, which ability advance you to apprehend some adorned audio engineering. Yet the complete is absolutely tinny and the aggregate akin underwhelming. Points of comparison: My iPhone 7 Additional and iPad Pro both accept bigger and louder complete than the ZBook X2, as does my crumbling Dell Precision M3800 workstation. For a arrangement that is added acceptable than best to be pulled out or anesthetized about in presentation mode, that’s an blank that should accept been fixed.
The ZBook X2 sets a new accepted for able book computing. HP looked at how agenda artists were appliance computer accouterments and saw they bare a cardinal of altered accoutrement appropriate to be absolutely artistic on the go — a activating desktop workstation for austere artistic tasks, a appropriate laptop computer for abundance alfresco the office, and generally a abstracted accessory absolutely for sketching, cartoon and painting. The ZBook X2 crams all those altered accessories into a single, pro-level package. The better affair captivation this arrangement aback is, well, its bigness. Beneath than bristles pounds is a abundant ambition for a carriageable workstation, but aback it comes to article you appetite to coil up with on a daybed and draw on for hours on end, it’s a little much. Then again, if you yearn for a powerful book with a DreamColor awning against a full-on PC workstation, well, the ZBook X2 is that attenuate affair in today’s article accretion altitude — it’s one of a kind.
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