HP's New ZBook x2 Takes Aim at Surface, MacBook Pro

HP describes the 2-in-1 desktop PC as “the world’s most powerful and first detachable PC workstation” and is going to market alongside Adobe.

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For several years, Hewlett-Packard Inc. has been bound and determined to produce laptops and workstations that compete directly with similar products made by Apple, which earned an early reputation for providing high-end IT tools for artists. Some people say HP isn’t there yet and won’t ever get there, some say they are close, and others contend they’re already on a par.

As evidence of HP’s high-end obsession, look at the inclusion of first-rate Bang & Olufsen sound systems to compete with Apple’s MacBook Pro Beats Audio; the carefully designed and sculpted protective cases in special colors to appeal to creative types; and the numerous software and hardware features aimed specifically at creative professionals.

HP even came out with a special “Star Wars”-themed workstation a couple of years ago in another effort to stand apart from everybody else.

Now the company is moving to an even higher level in this battle for creative mindshare.  On Oct. 18 at the Adobe MAX conference, HP introduced the ZBook x2, which it calls “the world’s most powerful and first detachable PC workstation.” The new workstation was designed and built in with Adobe in the mix, so it can run all the Adobe Creative Cloud applications without any muss/fuss and using every shortcut possible.

Appealing Directly to New-Media Professionals

HP is appealing directly to digital media professionals with its pre-installed Adobe-friendly features. These include configurations built around Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, Premiere and others; it also includes a year's subscription to Creative Cloud, an optional HP DreamColor display with 100 percent Adobe RGB color space, and HP Quick Keys for easy access to shortcuts for Adobe programs.

Adobe’s marketing cloud, originally called the Experience Cloud, owns about half the world’s marketshare in this sector in a continuing battle with Salesforce.

Side note: Interesting that this new pro-level 2-in-1 workstation came out only hours after Microsoft announced its Surface Book 2 Oct. 17, as evidence that the house that Gates, Allen and Ballmer built also has substantial investments here.

HP said that the ZBook x2 is designed to solve the performance and mobility needs of artists, designers and digital imaging professionals who need to “push Adobe Creative Cloud and other professional applications to the limit.”

ZBook x2 includes four modes, a Bluetooth keyboard and a batteryless pen (which is powered by touching the screen), among other features.

Apple, Microsoft, HP All in the Race for Creative Pros

While Microsoft’s  Surface Book is clearly competing with Apple's MacBook Pro in the creative class laptop space, HP is also competing with them but also labeling the ZBook as a detachable workstation. All three are aimed at the same audience: illustrators, photographers, designers, film ediors and others.

ZBook x2 is priced at $1,749 and is equipped with either seventh- or eighth-generation Intel Core i5 or i7 CPUs. Nvidia Quadro M620 is an optional GPU (graphics processing unit).

One question is this: If you’re going to spend nearly $2,000 on a high-end workstation, why wouldn’t you add the Nvidia GPU to add much higher performance? In processing large data workloads, as is common in handling graphics, photography and video, performance is a must-have feature.

ZBook x2 offers a 14-inch 3,840x2,160 (4K) touchscreen display and a whopping 32GB of RAM, although lesser ZBook x2’s can be obtained with 8GB or 16GB.

For more information, go here.

Chris Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger is Editor of Features & Analysis at eWEEK, responsible in large part for the publication's coverage areas. In his 12 years and more than 3,900 stories at eWEEK, he...