HP Spectre x360 15 (2018)

In the past, the HP Spectre lineup has always comprised of laptops both ultra portable and ultra powerful. The HP Spectre x360 15 fits nicely into the latter category, with a flexible hinge, stylus support and both facial recognition and a fingerprint sensor. Beyond that, the Intel Kaby Lake Refresh processors are just gravy.

With a gorgeous 4K display and a stylus, the HP Spectre x360 is one of the best 2-in-1 laptops around. It even features battery life long enough to make it a worthy contender for the classroom and office alike.

The HP Spectre x360 15 is the kind of device that basically every PC manufacturer on the planet carries, with products like the Microsoft Surface Book 2 and the Dell XPS 15 2-in-1. But, with all this competition, it can be difficult to stand out. How does the HP Spectre x360 15 compare to its competitors? Let’s find out. 

HP Spectre x360 15

Price and availability

This particular model of the Spectre x360 in the US is currently priced at $1,399 (about £1,055, AU$1,873) at the time of writing. Its regular price of $1,599 (about £1,206, AU$2,140) includes everything you see in the spec list to the right.

A slightly less expensive model is available in the US, priced at $1,369 (about £1,032, AU$1,833). For a couple hundred dollars of savings, you get the same processor, 8GB of memory, the same 4K display, and 256GB of storage. On the high end of the customization options is a 2TB SSD and an Intel Core i7-8705G for roughly $2,369 (about £1,787, AU$3,172).

In Australia, a similarly spec’d Spectre x360 is priced at AU$3,199. However, instead of using an Nvidia GPU, HP uses a Radeon RX Vega M and lowers the SSD storage space to 360GB instead of the 512GB seen in the US model. It’s a decent trade-off, considering the processor is bumped up to the Intel Core i7-8705G.

HP takes a similar approach in the UK, using a Radeon GPU and faster processor while cutting the included memory down to 8GB and leaving the SSD at 512GB.

With Black Friday 2018 deals right around the corner, we’re expecting to see some massive HP Spectre x360 15 price drops, just in time for the holidays. 

The HP Spectre x360 15 sits comfortably between the Dell XPS 15 and the Surface Book 2 when it comes to price. The XPS 15, without a 4K display and with discrete-class Radeon Vega graphics, starts at $1,299 (about £957, AU$1,653). Bumping up the display’s resolution to get closer to the Spectre’s 4K capabilities, you’re looking at $2,099 for a similar XPS 15. 

With the Surface Book 2, however, you’re looking at $2,499 (£2,349, AU$3,649) for the entry-level model, equipped with a beefier Nvidia GTX 1060.

Design

The HP Spectre x360 15 has a sleek and elegant appeal to it. A dark gray housing is broken up only by shiny gold highlights on the edges, surrounding the touchpad and its hinges. Once you open the lid, you’ll be greeted by a vibrant 15.6-inch 4K touch display with slim bezels on the vertical sides and a thicker bezel along the top to make room for the webcam and Windows Hello tech.

The touchpad is actually centered with the device itself, rather than the keyboard, making it slightly off center to the left, thanks to a number pad to the right of the keyboard. A power button isn’t visible or tucked into the keyboard, but rather it’s located on the left side of the chassis.

On the left side of the HP Spectre x360 15, you’ll find a charging port, a full-size USB 3.1 port, a speaker grille, a 3.5mm headphone jack and a full-size SD card reader. On the right is a Thunderbolt 3 port, a USB-C port and an HDMI input. There’s also another speaker grille, a fingerprint sensor and a volume rocker.

By placing the fingerprint sensor, power and volume keys on the sides of the housing, HP made it possible to unlock or adjust volume when the screen is rotated all the way into tablet mode.

Speaking of rotation, the hinges on the HP Spectre x360 15 are strong enough that the screen stays in place whether you’re typing away on the keyboard or tapping the screen to select items.

With total measurements of 14.13 x 9.84 x 0.76 inches (35.9 x 25 x 1.94cm; W x D x H) and weighing in at 4.59 pounds (2.14kg), you’ll need to be ready to lug this machine around. Admittedly, it’s not the heaviest laptop we’ve reviewed, but it a bit on the hefty side for a convertible device. In other words, you aren’t going to want to hold this in tablet mode for too long.

Display

To our eyes, the screen on the Spectre x360 is sharp and crisp, if not a little over saturated in color. The text is free of any pixelation, and images appear clear as well.

Watching a movie or brewing your favorite sub on Reddit, you’ll find very little to fault with the display used on the HP Spectre x360.

HP Spectre x360 15

Biometrics

The Spectre x360 makes for a good Windows Hello partner, offering both a fingerprint sensor and facial recognition. We set up both unlock methods during our testing and found the facial scanning tech to be faster and easier to use.

As you wake the laptop, it begins looking for your face using the webcam at the top of the display. Within a blink of an eye (but try to avoid blinking too much), the Spectre unlocks.

The fingerprint sensor is on the right side of the laptop, next to the volume rocker. It’s slightly recessed with the housing, making it easy to find just by feel. But in our testing, we have a hard time lining up our registered finger with the sensor to get a consistent reading and, in turn, unlock the laptop.

Stylus and pen input

Included in the box is a stylus and an AAAA battery. Yeah, four A’s – we counted them a few times just to be sure. The HP Spectre x360 15 pen has two buttons on it, one to erase part of your writing or drawing and the other to select an item or right click on something.

There’s a comforting level of familiarity when holding the stylus, with similar weight to that of a regular pen or pencil. Turing on the stylus is done by tapping the tip to a surface, then gliding it across the display of the Spectre x360.

Even though the stylus requires power, there isn’t a convoluted Bluetooth pairing or setup process. Once you turn the pen on, the HP Spectre x360 15 automatically recognizes and accepts input from it.

We found the stylus to feel natural when jotting on the HP Spectre x360 15’s display, with very little latency between writing and marks appearing on the display.

First reviewed July 2018

Over the past couple of weeks, we’ve used the HP Spectre x360 quite a bit. The keyboard has taken some getting used to, often feeling a bit cramped despite its size. The touchscreen has proven itself a winner, while the touchpad leaves us frustrated at times.

That said, the overall performance on this machine is impressive.

We won’t bore you going point by point through the benchmark scores, but we will point out that despite lacking the same class of GPU as the Surface Book 2, the Spectre held its own. For example, the Spectre nearly matched the latest Surface Book’s single-core Geekbench 4 score (4,815 to  5,024) and handily beat the multi-core score (14,446 to 13,896) of Microsoft’s laptop.

Similar remarks can be made about the Spectre’s performance when compared to the XPS 15.

In everyday use, however, the Spectre felt smooth and free of any significant hiccups. The included GeForce MX150 isn’t powerful enough to get through an intense gaming session of any AAA games, but you will be able to play more casual games without worrying about performance.

Software and features

Sigh. One day, we will be able to omit a bloatware section from most of our laptop reviews, but until that day here we are, yet again talking about how intrusive programs such as McAfee’s LiveSafe suite are to the end user.

What’s more annoying than pre-installing software such as McAfee products, is that the program routinely prompted us to renew our subscription with prompts that looked a lot like Windows 10 system alerts in the middle of the display. These types of alerts are deceptive and designed to trick users, and that’s incredibly frustrating.

HP Spectre x360 15

Battery life

The Spectre x360’s battery life is impressive enough for us. With a total time of 6 hours and 6 minutes in the PCMark 8 battery test, along with a score of 7 hours and 55 minutes in our own movie test, we feel confident in the Spectre offering enough power to get through a cross-country flight.

Comparatively, the Dell XPS 15 fell short of the Spectre’s battery mark, lasting 5 hours and 8 minutes in our video playback test. The Surface Book 2, however, handily beat the Spectre in the PCMark 8 battery test with 7 hours and 39 minutes of performance. We’re still waiting to see how long the Surface Book 2 lasts in our video playback test, but we think it’s safe to say it’ll top the Spectre’s performance.

HP Spectre x360 15

Final verdict

The Spectre x360 is an impressive piece of kit, especially when you consider the price. Its performance is nothing to scoff at, and when you add in a 4K display and stellar battery, the deal gets even sweeter.

If you’re looking for a 2-in-1 laptop that can do just about everything, the Spectre x360 is worth a long, hard look. However, for anyone that just wants to save some money and maybe even get some more gaming in, the XPS 15 is probably the best way to go.



from TechRadar - Technology Reviews http://www.techradar.com/reviews/hp-spectre-x360-15-2018