Ever since smartphones and tablets became popular, people have been looking for ways to condense them into laptops. Past attempts, including the Motorola Atrix and the Asus Padfone, were not particularly well received. But HP thinks it can make the whole "turn your phone into a laptop" concept into a viable option for mobile professionals with the new Elite x3 Lap Dock. Available starting September 5th, the Lap Dock only adds $100 to the cost of HP's new Elite x3 phone, coming bundled with the handset for $799.
Billed as the first business 3-in-1, the Elite x3 has several components starting with the brains of the operation, the Elite x3 phone. Priced at $699, the smartphone runs Windows (of course) and is powered by a Snapdragon 820 processor with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of onboard storage. The phone is also equipped with dual SIM slots, so you can use your business phone as your personal device with a solid barrier between the two. Thanks to its 6-inch display, HP is also billing the device as a mini-tablet, hence the 3-in-1 designation.
The other pieces of the puzzle are the Elite x3 Desk Dock and Lap Dock, the former of which acts as a dock for the smartphone while the latter functions as an actual laptop when connected to the phone. Weighing a barely there 2.3 pounds, the Lap Dock offers a full-size island-style keyboard and a 13-inch display. The Lap Dock acts as a battery in case the phone needs a charge. The entire bundle is priced at $1,299, which puts it on a par with the Lenovo Yoga 900s or the Samsung Notebook 9 Spin. For $799, you can get the phone and the Desk Dock.
The phone can connect to the Lap Dock in three ways: wireless, NFC and wired. Since we demoed a pre-production model, there were a few connection hiccups. For the most part, pairing only took approximately 3-4 seconds. Once the phone and Lap Dock are connected, the 6-inch device uses Microsoft Continuum to let you work, watch videos or listen to music.
Since the setup is powered by a mobile device, the MIL-STD 810G (water and dust-resistant) Lap Dock can only run the mobile versions of Word, PowerPoint and Excel. During a demo I attended, the Elite x3 phone smoothly streamed a video to the Lap Dock with negligible lag. The screen looked nice and vivid while the keyboard delivered solid feedback, but we'll wait until our review unit arrives before we pass a final judgment.
One thing that's absent on the Lap Dock is an integrated webcam. That means if you're planning on making any video chats, you're going to rely on the smartphone's 8 megapixel front camera or the 16 MP device in the rear. Either way, you're probably going to want that Desk Dock or something similar to correctly position the phone.
Overall, the Elite x3 Lap Dock is an intriguing approach to business laptops. Instead of lugging around a business phone in addition to your personal device, laptop and tablet, you can significantly reduce your load. The Lap Dock is feather-light and can be easily stowed in a backpack or purse, thanks to the lack of storage or a processor. The phone is powerful enough to run the whole system and can pull double duty as both a business and personal device. However, it remains to be seen if the business world is ready for this level of efficiency.
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Sherri L. Smith has been cranking out product reviews for Laptopmag.com since 2011. In that time, she's reviewed more than her share of laptops, tablets, smartphones and everything in between. The resident gamer and audio junkie, Sherri was previously a managing editor for Black Web 2.0 and contributed to BET.Com and Popgadget.