Zbook X2 Just Announced

Discussion in 'Hewlett Packard' started by dv8nathan, Oct 18, 2017.

  1. stoneseeker

    stoneseeker Animator and Art Director Senior Member

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    Hey all, there is one of these last gen unicorns available max specs for $1200 around here and looks to be in great shape. I'm considering grabbing one as a temp T902 replacement till I can afford an Acer Ezel.
    Since I don't have time to go through this whole thread, can anyone summarize common problems I should watch out for when viewing the used machine, and any issues I should be aware of that may crop up as I try and work on it in photoshop?
     
  2. ticol

    ticol Pen Pal - Newbie

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    I find the ZBook to be a wonderful machine but it has some flaws that you may dislike or not.
    You have to check that it works fine for you regarding palm rejection. It isn't as a Wacom a device but more like Samsung ones : touch is disabled only when the tip of the pen touches the screen (while on wacom devices, it's disabled when the pen tip is near the screen). So, depending on how you handle your pen and draw, it may be a problem for you.
    It doesn't bother me that much as I use a drawing glove which is a good insulator between my palm and the screen. But sometimes, when I rest my hand on the screen my drawing moves a bit.

    Second thing : the express keys. You can't combine two express keys (like alt and shift for example). You can only press one or the other.
    As there are 18 availables express keys choices you can create an alt+shift on one for example. But it's less intuitive to use.
    The express keys are very small and have the same color as the screen border. It means it's hard to distinguish them without a good ambiant light. As they are small, I find it more difficult to know which one is which just but moving my fingers on them (it was easier on my Wacom devices).
    I put a thin white sticker on the side of each row ok express keys, with black dots on them, corresponding to each express key. Like that I can work in a darker room and still see where are the express keys.
    You also have the solution to use the keyboard for shortcuts.

    Last thing : the stand. It's one of the things I love on the Zbook. You can put the angle you want on the screen and change it fast. It's robust. When I draw, I rest my hand on the screen, and when I ink I tend to press a bit hard sometimes. Generally it doesn't move. But if I press too hard while drawing on the top part of the screen, the stand can move and the screen takes a flatter position.

    Despite these things, I never liked that much a drawing device.
    Colors are gorgeous. Really.
    4K resolution is really a big improvement when you're used to Full HD. I zoom way less when I draw. And viewing entire drawings or comics pages works well. It's very sharp. As when drawing on a piece of paper.
    The feeling of drawing is perfect. As on a Wacom device. Very soft feeling with just a bit of grab.
    The form factor is nice too. The keyboard, when linked to the screen, is very pleasant to use. And it's a good screen shield when carrying the ZBook in a bag.

    Battery isn't meant for a whole day of work but it's sufficient if you want to use for 3 (maybe a bit more) hours without a power supply.

    Hope you'll be happy with it. It's a wonderful piece of technology for nomade artists.
    Every day, since I got mine, when I start to work on it, I have a big smile on my face !
     
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  3. darkmagistric

    darkmagistric Scribbler - Standard Member Senior Member

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    As much as I love my zBook, I can't help but think of its flaws before its pros, of which both is has many. Also I use it more for coding then art (art the ulterior motive for getting it)

    Unless you have a really brightly lit room, the express keys will be useless. They blend too well in with the bezel and with any sufficient ambient darkness they just become impossible to see. Unless you steadily have you hand already on one at all times, you almost always will hit the wrong one at first try. The Wacom Mobile Studio Pro gives its express keys a silver outlining, and clearly this problem is why wacom did so with theirs.

    Sometimes in art apps, like Clip Studio or Photoshop, not sure if its driver related or a byproduct of the hi-res screen, but sometimes interacting with programs feels kind of laggy. Not with the actual drawing but the responsiveness of the interface just feels a tad off. Still usable, but bouncing between my Surface Pro 5 and the Zbook, Clip Studio always feels weird when I'm using the zbook.

    Now the pen..it works well, but I had a zbook pen way before I got the zbook to use its pen with my Galaxy Book 10.6. That zbook pen works flawlessly. However when I got the zbook proper, I also got a second zbook pen, and that pen...doesn't feel like it works as well as the first one I had. I got used to it, but it feels like it needs more IAF then the first one. That might be due to the screen composition of the zbook, and just having a fresh pen, where as my first Zbook pen was well worn in from the Galaxy Book usage. I don't really notice the issue any more, so I think it was more just having a fresh pen, but if you're coming from using the Mobile Studio Pro's Pro Pen 2, Samsung S-pens, the Surface Slim pen, or the Apple Pencil, all of which have like near zero IAF, the zbook will feel alittle unresponsive by comparison, but once you get used to it, it does provide an excellent drawing experience and feel.

    Battery life...is dismal, I struggle to get more then 2-ish hours out of it at full screen brightness. And while the screen (dreamcolor model) is insanely color accurate, it isn't that bright, so I wouldn't expect to get much outdoor usage out of it.

    Now the things I like the most about the zbook...more so from a coding perspective, I love its keyboard. I find it to be a very comfortable keyboard to type on, (far more then the Surface Type Cover or Apple Magic Keyboard) and the bluetooth connection when detached has been tremendously useful. the Zbook on its own has sufficient ports and can easily push two monitors without any issue or adapter. I've arranged all sorts of multi-monitor set ups with the Zbook and it handles them with ease. Its this specific use case where the bluetooth keyboard comes so in handy since you can position it however you like in regards to your specific mulit-monitor setup.

    The Kickstand is reliable...it may look likes it weaker then the Surface Pro kickstand, but it does a much better job keeping the zbook up even with heavy drawing pressure (mostly)

    The weight of the zbook is...alot, especially compared to a Surface Pro but you get used to it. Also I bought mine used as well...refurbed off ebay I think, it came in nearly mint condition, and no problems at all with it technically not being new.
     
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  4. Steve S

    Steve S Pen Pro - Senior Member Super Moderator

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    <<...can anyone summarize common problems I should watch out for...and any issues I should be aware of...>>

    @stoneseeker : A correction and a couple of comments:
    • As I think you may already know, the X2 uses Wacom EMR pen technology. However, the palm rejection technology is not Wacom and the interface between the two is sometimes a little hinky (as we say in the Lower 48). Early on, there were some complaints about this but, interestingly, no one seems to complain about it today. As a technical user, as opposed to an artist, I can say that I mostly find palm rejection to be OK, but I do sometimes get spurious marks on some applications like FluidMath.
    • Regarding the earlier remarks about the keyboard and the bale (what others call the "kickstand"), +1. The keyboard is really nice; excellent key feel and BlueTooth connectivity so it can be used detached.
    • Regarding the Express Keys, there have been earlier posts about putting a piece of reflective tape on the keys to make them easy to find in low light.
    • As noted above, battery life is not great. If you don't have access to a wall plug, a moderately sized external battery with a 19.5 V output can address this problem.
    • Regarding the DreamColor screen and its 16:9 aspect ratio, +1. Early on in this thread, a couple of us observed that screens which produce AdobeRGB-quality color rendition tend to be dimmer than more typical sRGB screens. My thought is that the denser chroma layer required to produce the richer colors is responsible. The VAIO Z Canvas was like this, too.
    • IIRC, the X2 weighs 4 pounds 14 ounces, so it is no lightweight.
    • For some reason, my X2 is slow to open apps like CSP and TurboCAD, but once open, operation is snappy.
    • I have no explanation for @darkmagistric 's pen woes; I also have two X2 pens and they both seem to work OK...
    Don't forget to ask about whether there is any warranty coverage. You shouldn't need it, but I did. Good luck with your purchase...
     
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  5. doobiedoobiedum

    doobiedoobiedum Scribbler - Standard Member Senior Member

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    Wow, several of you have commented this - I've never, ever had my hinge move when drawing. It's incredibly robust so I can only imagine how hard you guys are pressing on the screen.

    Have to say yes - the express keys are my one big disappointment and they are so easily lost in the dark or low light when you are busy drawing / painting. A bit of low-tack tape is my solution too.

    I use mine mainly for Flash Professional, Photoshop and sketching in Sketchbook / Clip Studio and it works just great here. For me, Flash has a new lease of life on this device - I'm not a Pro animator but I animate for games sprites / motion graphics etc but it's also a pretty good vector illustration App before I take my files into Affinity Designer.

    I don't mind the weight in this device at all, that's the price paid for the ports and power available. I would have liked another USB type A port as if I have to use a mouse (blender / zbrush etc) then the sole USB-A port is gone. I've not regretted buying this device but I would be really interested if HP updated it if ever.

    In any future update I'd prefer to see a 15 or 16 inch screen with more user-friendly Express keys (it IS designed and sold as a "creatives" device), a more powerful GPU and a Ryzen CPU - EMR as opposed to AES which is what the current new X2 tablets use.
     
  6. darkmagistric

    darkmagistric Scribbler - Standard Member Senior Member

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    even if they did update the X2, part of me thinks they wouldn’t even bother with express keys a second time around. Even Wacom is phasing them out (which I think is a huge mistake) but when you look at the runaway success of the iPad Pro and Pencil, I think the clean empty design esthetic will win over functionality even for Pro intended devices.

    Should a zBook update indeed occur, my main wish would be for a more powerful CPU. Given it’s size and weight, it’s kind of pathetic it’s only rocking a 15w. Battery Life would no doubt be even more tragic, but a 28w (or dare to dream 45w) CPU would go a long way in the power department.
     
  7. ticol

    ticol Pen Pal - Newbie

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    Before using mainly numerical devices for drawing, I used rigid nibs for inking and was pressing hard when I needed to thicken my lines. I tend to keep this bad habit to press hard when I'm in a rush :)
    But, as I said it occurs very rarely that the stands moves. Only when I apply too much force on the top of the screen.
    And I really prefer the ZBook stand compared to the Companion/Mobile Studio one. I can draw 10 hours a day. And it's good for my back to change a bit the angle of the screen to have a different drawing position.
     
  8. doobiedoobiedum

    doobiedoobiedum Scribbler - Standard Member Senior Member

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    One thing I forgot to add on the 4K screen combined with Wacom EMR2 - scrubbing the timeline in Flash..... just beautiful. I remember I used to need a mouse on older EMR devices to select the frame or frame scrubber head to hit it accurately. Old EMR styluses / digitisers just never ever were accurate enough. Now, I just don't need to think about it, if I want to hit frame 36 (for example) and do something to it I use my stylus without thought. Never have to reselect or try again.

    Yeah, I note the Acer ConceptD models don't have express keys which is a bit silly. the iPad Pro and the Samsung S7+ are touch centric devices with an OS and software written to expand on touch. Full Windows tends not to cater for that. I suppose though all the graphics tablet makers are dropping express keys - cut production costs, keep revenue high.

    Oh I wasn't criticising your drawing style - I just find the stand is really stiff and stays where I put it. I work out a lot and I'm a 110 kg guy too, so putting that kind of pressure on the tablet to move the hinge makes me wonder just how hard you're pressing.
     
  9. ticol

    ticol Pen Pal - Newbie

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    Don't worry, I understood what you meant :)
    To be honest I was surprised that the stand was so stiff. I thought it would fall all the time :)
    And, I just checked. It's when I rest my palm too high with a heavy hand that the stand moves. I can't have it moving while only pressing with the pen.
    I'd really like to be able to draw without having my palm resting. This explains why I'm not that at good at painting :)
     
  10. stoneseeker

    stoneseeker Animator and Art Director Senior Member

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    Yea, the CPU is my one big concern. I just looked it up and the 15W 4 (physical) core CPU in this thing is only 10% faster than my T902 2 core 35W CPU. As long as it is able to consistently reach turbo while painting I'll be happy, but with the T902 if I was painting large files or rendering big videos, it would constantly overheat and get locked into base freq (which was still quite high at least at 2.9ghz compared to X2 dismal 1.9ghz)

    Also, about the discussion of express keys, its oddly the one thing I just wont miss but that's due to my preferring a smaller bezels and footprint/larger screen (like the D9 and D7 ezel), and I've never accustomed to express keys on a screen, mostly because I have exclusively used the Logitech G13 for all my custom shortcuts for years now. I could see custom keys being nice to learn for when I just wanna draw on the couch or cant bring my G13 somewhere, but for real work where I gotta sit down at a flat surface and get a lot done, they aren't going to cut it anyway.
     
    Last edited: Sep 16, 2020
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