HP Spectre x360 (2016) Review

HP’s flagship 2-in-1 laptop goes ultra-thin with style

The original HP Spectre x360 was a great-looking 2-in-1 laptop, and now the company has released a dramatically improved next generation model. The new 13-inch machine brings in a ton of great improvements, including a new chassis that’s 13% thinner and 11% lighter, a quarter more battery life and an Intel Kaby Lake processor. Numbers aside, this is practically an all-new laptop, with a re-engineered display and a few features we now can’t live without.

Design

HP has trimmed the new model’s chassis. Measuring 13.8mm thin, it’s significantly thinner than the outgoing model. The design also trims the body to a touch over 12 inches. Both of these changes stem from the new micro-edge display HP has implemented ­ more on that shortly.

HP Spectre x360 (2016) Review

HP Spectre x360 (2016) Review

With the hybrid’s new weight of 1.3kg, the device is much more comfortable to use in tablet mode. Another effect of the narrower body is that it gives the laptop a boxier shape, however, this device still features a 16:9 screen.

Aside from the shape change, HP has also re-engineered almost every aspect of the laptop. The geared hinges have been reshaped into a shorter ­ and wider ­ mechanism to coincide with the thinner design. Likewise, HP has reduced the keyboard travel from 1.5mm to 1.3mm, but we prefer this change thanks to a stiffer force curve on the keys.

Unfortunately, there have also been a few less favorable sacrifices made in the name of thinness. The SD card reader has kicked the can, as has the HDMI video-out, in exchange for two USB-C ports.

The good news is that those ports support Thunderbolt 3 for charging, dual 4K monitor support and 40Gbps data transfers. Plus, you still get one full-sized USB 3.1 port for legacy mice, thumb drives and other peripherals.

The glass-coated precision trackpad remains relatively unchanged, and that’s no bad thing. It’s still as responsive as ever, but, again, we wished HP had gone with a narrower option that wasn’t so easy to trigger while typing.

Popping off

Aside from the aesthetic changes, the updated Spectre x360 makes a huge splash with its new micro edge display that reduces the bezels on the sides of the screen to a much squatter 0.54mm.

Unfortunately, the top and bottom bezels haven’t seen the same dramatic reduction, but at least HP is using the space above the screen to good use with a new TrueVision FHD webcam. Not only does the IR camera enable you to log in with your face through Windows Hello, it also provides you with a 12% wider field of view.

In addition to stretching from edge-to-edge (on the sides), the micro-edge display also features an optically bonded design, so the pixels look like they’re sitting right on top of the touch panel.

Although HP has limited display resolution to only 1,920 x 1,080 Full HD, we can certainly live without 4K or QHD+ options on a 13-incher, especially when we’re impressed with the overall image quality as is.

 

Colors pop off the screen, and they’re accurate thanks to it being able to reproduce 70% of the colour gamut. Viewing angles are also generous, even at extreme angles, allowing us to read parts of the screen even when just trying to admire the extreme thinness of the new display panel.

HP Spectre x360 (2016) Review

HP Spectre x360 (2016) Review

HP has also redesigned the audio on its flagship hybrid with quad-speaker system. Just above the keyboard you’ll find a new speaker grille, under which are two top-firing tweeters that go with another pair of bottom-facing speakers located on the underside.

The idea behind the quadspeaker setup is that you’ll always have sound projected towards you, whether you’re using the device as a tablet or laptop.

Secondly, it’s the first of HP’s quad-speaker equipped machines to have all four firing off at the same time. Thanks to a new audio boost feature, the speakers work together to produce a louder and fuller sound profile. Highs come out clearly and bass is more present, but even with all these improvements a good pair of headphones still deliver a superior listening experience.

Performance

Don’t mistake the Spectre x360’s ultra-slim form factor for lightweight performance. This is

“It’s practically a new laptop, with a re-engineered display and features we now can’t live without”

a speedy machine for everything from starting programs, to loading up a dozen websites simultaneously to headier tasks such as video editing.

What’s even more impressive is what a cool customer this laptop is under load. Even with pressure from a ton of demanding applications, the fan inside hardly spins at an audible level. And then there’s the long battery life you’ll be able to pull out of this machine.

Battery life is the biggest standout performance of this laptop and it’s largely thanks to a massive 57.8-watt hour (WHr) battery. It even looks physically impressive as HP gave us a look at the Spectre x360’s interior and the battery takes up more than half the internal cavity. According to HP’s claims, the updated hybrid should last for up to 15 hours ­ 25% longer than older models with only a 52WHr battery.

KEY FEATURES

HP Spectre x360 (2016)

Operating system Windows 10 Processor 2.7GHz Intel Core i7-7500U (dual core, 4MB cache, 3.5GHz with Turbo Boost) Storage 512 GB PCIe NVMe M.2 Solid State Drive RAM 16 GB LPDDR3 SDRAM Graphics Intel HD Graphics 620 Ports 2 x USB 3.1 Type-C (Thunderbolt Gen 3), 1 x USB 3.1 Type-A Gen 1, headset jack Connectivity 802.11ac 2×2 WLAN and Bluetooth Weight 2.85 pounds Size 12.03 x 8.58 x 0.54 inches Screen size 13.3-inch Full HD (1,920 x 1,080) IPS UWVA WLED-backlit multi-touch display Camera 1080p HP TrueVision FHD IR Webcam

In our own testing, we haven’t quite seen these numbers, but the results are impressive nonetheless. With our standardized movie-based battery benchmark test, the Spectre x360 was able to play Guardians of the Galaxy over and over again for 8 hours and 45 minutes straight. Overall, it performs remarkably better than most Skylake laptops. Seven to 10 hours of battery life will easily see you through even the toughest days at work. The best thing of all is you can recharge the laptop from zero to 90% in just 90 minutes thanks to USB-C quick charging.

Final verdict

HP has gone back to the drawing board to redesign and re-engineer every piece of its flagship 2-in-1 laptop to make it slimmer, lighter and much longer lasting.

If you’re in the market for something with higher-end specs, then this option comes at a really great value.

A practically all-new laptop, that’s one of the longest-lasting machines we’ve ever tested.

8 Total Score
HP Spectre x360 (2016) Review

A practically all-new laptop, that's one of the longest-lasting machines we've ever tested.

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