As soon as I took HP’s Spectre x360 hybrid out of the box, it was the little touches that impressed me.
The braided power cable that looks high-end and the premium look and feel all screamed high-end hardware, and HP’s x360 is just that: It’s a premium piece of kit at a premium price – but you do get two devices for the price of one, though.
In standard configuration, the device is a standard laptop but flip the screen back and stand it on a benchtop like a tent and it’s a touch-screen tablet, complete with a stylus that is incredibly sensitive and accurate [Funny story: I thought I’d “misplaced” the stylus for about a week after my wife thought it was a marker pen & put it away with the other markers].
I do have to confess, though, it took me a while to find the power button as it’s not in the traditional place I was looking. It’s not on above the function keys on the right hand side It’s in the left corner, tucked out of sight. While uncertain about its placement at first, I’m now a convert of where the power connector is as it means it’s out of the way and you won’t knock it easily.
Running an Intel Core i7 10th generation CPU (1.3Ghz), 16Gb of memory, 512Gb M.2 drive for storage, 64-bit Windows 10, and an Intel Iris Plus integrated GPU, the x360 has enough grunt to do most things. Thanks to a fast fingerprint scanner [as well as facial recognition: How did they get a camera into the incredibly think bezel this thing has?], the x360 unlocks amazingly fast and boots up from cold start to desktop in a matter of seconds [around 6 seconds].
The 13.3-inch AMOLED panel (1920 x 1080 resolution with a 60hz refresh rate) is clear and vivid, although it reflects a lot of glare when used in direct sunlight or in sunny rooms so it’s not really one for sitting on the deck during a warm summer afternoon.
Weighing in at reasonable 1.2kg, the x360 comes with an old-school USB 2.0 connection on the left-hand edge (which is good for my wireless mouse dongle) and another USB-c connection on the right-hand side. There’s also a micro-SD port and an audio jack. A nice touch is the physical switch to deactivate the in-built camera, a nice feature if you’re super cautious about online safety.
I usually struggle with many laptop keyboards but I found the x360’s keyboard comfortable to work with, with nice travel in the keys. I set myself the challenge of using it as my primary device [excluding my work laptop] for a couple of weeks, and for the most part I succeeded.
I still game on my more powerful desktop PC, but I wrote this review on the x360, I watched YouTube videos and Netflix on the x360, I followed recipes during lock down baking with the x360. It was my go-to device for the past couple of weeks.
While not a dedicated gaming machine [I understand there is a version that comes equipped with an nVidia GTX1060 GPU], I wanted to test out the x360’s gaming chops and while it managed to play games like Lonely Mountains Downhill, Blade Runner (the GOG version), Tomb Raider, Dishonoured and Two Point Hospital at playable frame rates, it struggled with a game like Forza Horizon 4, though, giving me an unsupported video card warning.
If you’re a gamer, I wouldn’t recommend trading in your current gaming rig for the x360, especially if you’re keen on Doom Eternal or the upcoming Cyberpunk 2077.
I was impressed with the x360’s battery life, lasting much longer than I expected before needing a recharge: I got, on average, a couple of days moderate use before needing to plug into a wall socket.
The only issue I had, hardware-wise, was the panel flickered quite severely when I was watching streaming services like Netflix and YouTube. It flashed so badly that it even looked like the panel itself was dying. Fearing it was a major problem, a quick search using Dr Google suggested a graphics driver update then heading into the graphics control panel and disabling panel self-refresh would sort the problem. It did, thankfully.
Starting at $3159 (depending on the GPU configuration), HP’s Spectre x360 is reasonably priced considering pricing of equivalently spec’d laptops such as Dell’s XPS 13 ($3299).
For me, the Spectre x360 is one of the best HP laptop’s I’ve used and it’s a powerful 2-in-1 that should be able to do everything you throw at it, apart from serious gaming, mind you.
Thanks to HP in New Zealand for providing the review unit.