HP announced an Envy X2 tablet-laptop hybrid with the Windows 8 OS this morning as the company made its return to the consumer tablet market, which it abandoned after the highly publicised failure of its TouchPad product.

At first glance, the HP Envy X2 resembles a netbook, with a keyboard base and an 11.6-inch touch display. But the device turns into a tablet once the screen is detached from the base.

"When I want it to, it can also be a great tablet," said David Conrad, director of product management at HP.

The benefit of a hybrid device is it offers the best of both worlds for Windows 8, which doubles as a tablet and PC operating system, Conrad said. The tablet is 8.5mm thick and 680g, and the display shows images at a 1366-by-768-pixel resolution.

HP Envy X2 tablet-laptop hybrid

The Envy X2 runs on Intel's low-power Atom processor code-named Clover Trail. The device will be sold with the keyboard base and 64GB of solid-state drive storage, and the configuration cannot be customised. Conrad said the device will become available during the latter part of the holiday season this year and will compete with hybrid devices that have been announced by PC makers like Asus, Acer, Lenovo and Samsung. Windows 8 will start shipping commercially on October 26.

Though the device can operate independently as a tablet, HP views it as a laptop first and people have to buy the keyboard base, Conrad said. The dock has an SD card slot, USB ports and a high-definition multimedia interface (HDMI) port. The device has two batteries - one in the base and the other in the tablet. The device offers more than eight hours of battery life in laptop mode. It has NFC capabilities, a high-definition webcam on the front and an 8.0-megapixel camera on the back. An optional stylus is available.

With this hybrid device, HP re-enters the consumer tablet market after it discontinued sales of webOS devices including the TouchPad. HP has reset its tablet strategy around Windows 8 OS.

HP also announced touchscreen ultrabooks with Windows 8 including the Spectre XT Touchsmart ultrabook, which is the company's first laptop with a Thunderbolt port. Thunderbolt is a high-speed interconnect technology developed by Intel to shuttle data between host PCs and external peripherals.

HP Spectre XT Touchsmart ultrabook

The ultrabook has a 15.6-inch, high-definition touchscreen and a choice of Intel's third-generation Core processor. It is 17.9mm thick and weighs 2.16kg. The laptop also features USB 3.0, Ethernet and HDMI ports.

The laptop will become available in the US in December starting at $1,399. HP did not provide information on worldwide availability.

HP's Envy Touchsmart Ultrabook 4 has a 14-inch touchscreen and a choice of Intel's latest Core processors. The ultrabook weighs 2.16kg and offers up to eight hours of battery life. An optional Advanced Micro Devices graphics card can be added to the ultrabook to boost graphics capabilities.