Hands on: HP Elite X2 1012 Skylake hybrid

HP Inc has unveiled the Elite X2 1012, a Skylake-powered hybrid aimed at businesses that bears more than a passing resemblance to Microsoft's Surface Pro flagship.

The silver-coloured chiselled metal of the X2 1012 felt very rigid and sturdy in the hand, even in its pre-production state. Like the Surface Pro, the tablet will come with a Wacom-powered stylus while a magnetic keyboard and screen cover will be sold separately. By itself, the tablet will weigh 840g and the combined weight is unlikely to be much more than this.

As HP has chosen to go with the yet-to-be released Skylake-based Core m3, m5 and m7 processors, the X2 1012 will be fanless. The battery, rated for ten hours of use, will be recharged via USB Type-C. This port will also be used for peripherals as well as video-out using adapters.

Although the easel-like multi-angle stand looks fragile, it felt sturdy enough during our brief encounter. HP claims that the stand has been designed so, in the event it should ever be irretrievably damaged in an accident, it will detach cleanly and easily so you can fit a replacement yourself. The SSD and memory in this hybrid will also be easily accessible.

The optional 109 keyboard-screen cover is where the X2 1012 most closely resembles the Microsoft Surface Pro range. From the fabric cover to the magnetic connector, it's a dead ringer for Redmond's accessory. It can even be attached at a slight angle, raising the keyboard upwards which some will find more comfortable to use.

Where it differs is that the keys are essentially indistinguishable from those of a good laptop - large with plenty of feedback and just the right amount of travel and resistance. Plus the keys are backlit too. A more expensive 159 keyboard cover is identical with the addition of a SmartCard slot. Sadly, there doesn't appear to be anywhere to stow or attach the stylus on either keyboard cover.

From first impressions the keyboard cover appears to be rigid enough for use on a lap with lap use further helped along by the multi-angle stand. We'll have to wait until we get our hands on a final review unit before coming to a firm conclusion, but early signs are positive.

Oddly, the fingerprint reader on the back of the tablet doesn't appear to be Windows Hello compatible but it can be used as part of a two-factor authentication scheme. Other business features include HP's SureStart automatically restorable BIOS, optional built-in 4G, vPro and compatibility with WiGig wireless docking stations and port replicators.

The HP X2 1012 is due out in January starting at 749 including a stylus but excluding the keyboard cover.