Sexy Metal Unibody Convertible
Most 2-in-1 convertible laptops I’ve tested have disappointed due to compromises of the basic laptop experience and weakened hardware. The HP Spectre x360 is a different beast: as a pure laptop, it’s as good as competing standalone products... and it just so happens to have a 360-degree hinge that allows it to transform into a tablet.
Some convertibles only opt for Core M CPUs, resulting in lower-than-ideal laptop performance. The Spectre x360, on the other hand, contains a standard Core i5 or i7 CPU, providing performance just as good as today’s ultrabooks.
The review unit we received packing the Core i7-7500U delivered great performance. It won't be significantly faster than last-gen Skylake laptops, but you’ll see decent gains over anything over two years old.
I'm pleased to see a range of affordable configuration options. Upping the RAM from 8 to 16 GB, and the storage from 256GB to 512GB adds less than $200 to the price. HP has avoided a race to the bottom with the Spectre: the base model contains 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage as standard, rather than 4GB and 128GB like some competitors.
Another aspect that can be affected by a convertible design is battery life. However with a 57.8 Wh battery inside, the Spectre x360 delivers excellent battery life, beating the two Kaby Lake 13-inch ultraportables that we've tested previously. In real-world usage, I had no trouble using the x360 for an entire day's worth of solid work.
To top it all off, the Spectre x360 is one of the most beautiful laptops I’ve tested. The unibody aluminium chassis is top notch, and regardless of the flexible hinge assembly, the entire device is slim and light.
HP has managed to cram in a full-sized USB port along with two Thunderbolt 3 ports, providing a fantastic range of connectivity. I love how HP has included three USB-C dongles in the box, which is perfect for business users and those that don’t want to spend more cash on expensive dongles.
The keyboard included on the Spectre x360 is nearly as good as the one on the standard Spectre. Travel distance and tactile feedback is excellent, and if it weren’t for some awkwardly placed function keys along the right side, it would be a perfect laptop keyboard. The trackpad is solid thanks to Synaptics excellent hardware, and while I’d appreciate a bit of extra vertical space, its large width keeps it from feeling cramped.
HP’s 1080p LCD touchscreen looks fantastic on the Spectre x360. It’s bright, sharp, delivers excellent viewing angles, and colors pop thanks to the glossy glass finish. It’s not a particularly accurate display out of the box, but calibration can make it suitable for creative work.
To be completely honest, I’m still indifferent about the general concept of a convertible laptop. The ability to flip the display around into a tablet is useful at times, but it’s far from a perfect experience. The good thing about the Spectre x360 is that it’s a very good laptop despite its 2-in-1 design, and that matters the most. Having the 360-degree hinge and the ability to transform into a tablet is a neat bonus.
As far as competition is concerned, the Spectre x360 is competitively priced. It’s roughly matches the Yoga 910 for the same hardware, although HP has a cheaper model with a Core i5 available for those on a budget. It’s faster and cheaper than Dell’s XPS 13 2-in-1, which continues HP’s price lead over Dell in the past year.
If you’re in the market for a 2-in-1 laptop, it’s hard to look past the excellent HP Spectre x360. It’s not a perfect convertible, but its solid feature set, fantastic hardware, and affordable price make it the best option currently available.
Pros: Sexy metal unibody design with a flexible 360-degree hinge. Top notch performance thanks to Kaby Lake and ultra-fast SSD storage. Thin and light but still packs USB-A. Affordable across entire hardware range.
Cons: Not the greatest tablet experience. Somewhat odd keyboard layout.