Hands on: HP Spectre x2 review

A serious sequel to HP’s top 2-in-1

What is a hands on review?
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Our Early Verdict

A gorgeous sequel that brings the device in line with both HP’s existing products and the company’s inspirations. Knowing its price, the Spectre x2 could very well be a compelling alternative to the Surface Pro devices.

For

  • Sharper screen
  • New 3:2 aspect ratio
  • Improved hinge

Against

  • OK battery life

Well on a roll with its fresh-looking Spectre line of high-end laptops and tablets, HP has at last given the treatment to the HP Spectre x2 for 2017.

Not only does the tablet come in HP’s now-standard black – sorry, Ash Silver – aluminum frame with copious gold trim, but the firm has naturally upgraded the tablet’s internals. Without much room to refine its product, we see the Spectre x2 become even more like the Surface Pro line that inspired it and so many other 2-in-1 laptops.

Namely, we see the Spectre x2 screen adopt more than a few lessons taught by that of Microsoft’s leading tablet. Mind you, that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

When it lands this June, HP will start the pricing at $999 (about £769, AU$1,342). Luckily, that’s just for one available model housing a 7th-generation (Kaby Lake), 2.4GHz Intel Core i7 processor, a 360GB M.2 solid state drive (SSD) and 8GB of RAM. All of that rests behind a 3,000 x 2,000 IPS touchscreen in a 3:2 aspect ratio – sound familiar?

HP Spectre X2 review

Design

If you were to look at an HP Spectre x2 in silhouette, you would find that not much at all has changed. Turn on the lights, though, and you’ll know that HP has, again, brought this Spectre into HP’s new design language.

That means a more matte, Ash Silver aluminum frame is now met with golden chrome accents aplenty, namely that of the kickstand. Speaking of which, HP’s stainless steel hinge design is now improved, making it much easier to open and close through magnets.

HP has given its included keyboard cover a similar visual makeover, changing little else, which isn’t a knock in the slightest. Keyboard travel remains relatively deep and feedback satisfying, with bright backlighting too boot.

Also included is HP’s new, low-fi take on the stylus, simply known as the Active Pen, going off of Microsoft’s design spec and naturally supporting Windows Ink. The stylus is a more generic approach than previous proprietary offerings, but tracks just fine for general use.

The entire Spectre x2 package comes in a slick, 2.49-pound chassis that’s just 0.52 inches thin, making it awfully portable, which should be expected at this point. This year, HP has doubled down on USB 3.1 Type-C with two ports joined by a headphone/mic jack and microSD card slot, letting 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth fill in the rest.

HP Spectre X2 review

Display and battery life

HP has made some significant changes regarding the Spectre x2 display, namely in massively upping its pixel count and adjusting its aspect ratio. This time around, HP has equipped the Spectre x2 with a 3,000 x 2,000 screen at a 3:2 aspect ratio, spec for spec what you’ll find in the Surface Pro 4.

The IPS panel is a delight to look at, embodying all of the benefits of the first-assumed weird aspect ratio and such a drastic increase in pixels from 1080p. HP even managed the shrink down the bezels on the tablet’s left and right side, keen to leave the infrared (IR) webcam where it belongs, above the display.

Being an IR webcam, of course, opens the Spectre x2 up to Windows Hello support.

As for how long the HP Spectre x2 will last you, its maker rates the tablet for up to 8 hours of juice during mixed use and up to 7 hours and 15 minutes during video playback. While we’ll be the final judge of battery life soon enough, HP promises that the Spectre x2 can charge from zero to 50% in just 30 minutes.

HP Spectre X2 review

Early verdict

The refreshed HP Spectre x2 brings the 2-in-1 laptop in closer line with not only the existing offering of Spectre products, but that of the Surface devices that inspired it. While that may make the Spectre x2 a little less unique, the changes no doubt make it a better device than the previous.

That said, 8 hours of battery life is somewhat low for such a thin and light device that’s begging to be brought around all day, especially when it’s safe to expect our own test results to come in below that figure.

All told, the Spectre x2 is a gorgeous sequel that brings the device in line with both HP’s existing products and the company’s inspirations. Knowing its price, the Spectre x2 could very well be a compelling alternative to the Surface Pro devices.

What is a hands on review?

'Hands on reviews' are a journalist's first impressions of a piece of kit based on spending some time with it. It may be just a few moments, or a few hours. The important thing is we have been able to play with it ourselves and can give you some sense of what it's like to use, even if it's only an embryonic view. For more information, see TechRadar's Reviews Guarantee.