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Review: HP's Elite x3 is too much smartphone, not enough PC

Galen Gruman | Oct. 28, 2016
We've seen this 'one device for everything' movie before, and it ends just as badly this time

The Elite x3's management challenge

Speaking of management, that's another area where the Elite x3 is overly complicated. Here again, the fault is Microsoft's, not HP's. Windows 10 Mobile isn't managed the same way as real Windows 10 PCs typically are: via System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM) or similar tool. Instead, you manage it via Microsoft's Intune or an enterprise mobility management (EMM) suite as if it were an iOS or Android device.

You can use SCCM to manage Intune and, in turn, manage the Elite X3, but that's a complex setup. Or you can manage the Elite x3 directly via your favorite EMM tool, without SCCM at all, again as if it were an iOS or Android device -- as long as your mobile team is prepared to manage these pseudo-Windows devices.

I do believe that PCs and mobile devices are on a path to joint, universal management, and if you're exploring Windows 10-based EMM for Surface Pros and the like, you might as well add Elite x3s to the mix. But you'll be at the bleeding edge for the next few years, as will your users. Deploy accordingly. Remember: A Surface Pro can be managed by both the old-school SCCM approach and the new-school EMM approach; the Elite x3 only by the EMM approach.

The confusing peripherals game

The Elite x3's hardware ecosystem is also complex to manage because you will either need a dock and compatible hardware at each location, compatible wireless equipment, or a combination of the two.

The HP Desk Dock, included in a $799 Elite X3 bundle, has a full-size DisplayPort (which only newer displays support), one USB-C port, two USB 2 (Type A) ports, and an Ethernet port. For people who work at multiple locations, you'll want multiple docks, but HP hasn't yet said whether it will sell the Desk Docks separately and, if so, at what price. (You can buy an Elite x3 without the Desk Dock for $699, but you're merely getting a Windows 10 Mobile smartphone for use as a standalone device.)

HP also plans to sell the Lap Dock that is like the old Motorola Lapdock: Slide your Elite X3 into it and you have a functioning Windows Mobile laptop computer. Note that its ports differ from the Desk Dock: There are two USB-C ports and one MicroHDMI port (not common on displays, so you'll need an adapter), plus built-in 802.11ac Wi-Fi. HP says a bundle of the Elite x3, the Desk Dock, and Lap Dock will cost $1,299. There's no word as to whether the Lap Dock will be available for separate purchase as well.

 

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