PROS / With solid construction and several premium touches, this is one of the best 2-in-1 ultrabook designs we've seen.
CONS / Relatively modest graphics and general performance is fine for everyday use, but may disappoint power users.
VERDICT / The HP Spectre x360 is an excellent convertible ultrabook, with great connectivity and features and a 2-in-1 design that shines.
HP’s flagship ultrabook, the HP Spectre x360 (13-4003), is a showcase of just how far the ultrabook category has come in terms of delivering both reliable computing performance and highly refined industrial design. It’s not just an elegant system, it also offers a superb design and rich feature set.
Specs & Performance
The HP Spectre x360 is outfitted with a 2.2 GHz Intel Core i5-5200U processor and 8GB of RAM, with a 256GB solid-state drive (SSD) for storage. While that spec list isn’t so different from other ultrabooks we reviewed, it uses those components to provide solid overall performance, scoring a respectable 5,614 points in Geekbench 3, but completing Laptop’s Spreadsheet Performance Test in 304 seconds, slower than most. If you work with large data sets that might be an issue, but if you simply want to browse the web, type up a homework assignment or work on a monthly budget, the performance is more than adequate.
On the graphics front, scores in 3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited and Fire Strike (54,116 points and 710 points, respectively) may not impress, but it’s not a difference most users will feel in day to day uses like streaming media or editing the occasional photo. In fact, Intel’s integrated HD Graphics 5500 should support almost everything you’d want to do, so long as gaming isn’t on the list.
Design & Construction
The Spectre x360 may, at first glance, resemble the dozens of MacBook Air lookalikes on the market, but it forges its own identity thanks to several thoughtful design touches. Users will appreciate details like a silky matte finish and comfortable rounded edges on the hinge. The convertible design has a simple-looking hinge that hides a clever geared cam mechanism. That mechanism supports the touchscreen in laptop mode so you can put pressure on it for swipes and taps but it still opens smoothly to transition the device from laptop to tablet. The design also has the same thickness whether it’s closed as a laptop or folded back into tablet mode, eliminating the awkwardness of tapered edges that distort the tablet profile.
The milled aluminum design is extremely sturdy, but it makes this ultrabook heavier than models made with materials like carbon fiber or magnesium alloy. Despite this, the slim laptop weighs only 3.17 pounds, and measures just 12.79 by 8.6 by 0.63 inches. Combined with a fairly impressive battery life of nearly nine and a half hours, you can tote the Spectre x360 along with you all day.
The overall feature set is also surprisingly rich, with a high-quality backlit keyboard and an extra-wide touchpad that that measures 5.6 by 2.6 inches, spanning nearly twice the area of the average touchpad. That's a lot of mousing real-estate, but the smooth texture of the trackpad and extremely good palm-rejection make it a real pleasure to use.
The 13.3-inch display offers 10-point capacitive touch, and a resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels, which is the basic option offered on most ultrabooks, while premium systems offer much higher resolutions. Despite the relatively low resolution, the display is still very good, with better color accuracy and brightness than most competitors.
The port selection on the Spectre x360 is very good, with three USB ports – all USB 3.0, and all with Sleep-and-Charge capability – an SD card slot, and both HDMI and mini DisplayPort video outputs. For further connectivity, HP offers adapter dongles for Ethernet and HDMI-to-VGA, though they are sold separately. Wireless connectivity is quite good, with 802.11ac Wi-Fi getting a boost from a 2x2 MIMO antenna for improved range and throughput.
Help & Support
The Spectre x360 is covered with a one-year limited warranty, which is standard for the category. HP’s customer service is quite good, placing highly in Laptop's Tech Support rankings thanks to polite and knowledgeable phone support and responsive agents that can be reached online via live chat or social media.
The HP Spectre x360 may not offer the best performance of the bunch, but there is more to a great ultrabook than test scores. What it lacks in processing power and graphics performance it makes up for with thoughtful design and a rich feature set, and the versatile 2-in-1 design adds enough additional usability to edge ahead of other top competitors.