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Hands on: HP Spectre x360 15t (2020) review

A gem-cut beauty of a workstation

What is a hands on review?
HP Spectre x360 15t (2020)
(Image: © Future)

Early Verdict

The HP Spectre x360 15t (2020) brings an updated design and fresh components, making it one of the most attractive 2-in-1 workstations out there. But, the limited RAM capacity could be a problem for some creatives.

For

  • Gorgeous design
  • Tiny bezels
  • Comfy keyboard

Against

  • Only up to 16GB of RAM
  • Divisive power button placement

Over the last few years, the HP Spectre x360 line of laptops has been making waves for their excellent design, comfy keyboards and huge trackpads. But not all versions of this laptop have gotten the same treatment, and it has felt like the 15-inch variant has been held back. All of that is changing at CES 2020.

The 2020 HP Spectre x360 finally will embrace the fresher design that its 13-inch cousin adopted in 2019, along with smaller bezels and 10th-generation Intel processors and discrete-class Nvidia graphics. All combining to create a workstation that you'll want to show off. 

HP Spectre x360 15t (2020)

(Image credit: Future)

Price and availability

Unfortunately, HP hasn't shared the Spectre x360 15t price or release date information. While we don't know when it's going to hit the streets, we can at least guess how much it'll cost. 

The current model of the HP Spectre x360 15 will set you back $1,299 (£1,499, AU$3,899) at the time of this hands-on review. Though, it should be noted that the US model comes with half the RAM of the UK and Australian entry-level models. We expect that the 2020 model will stay around the same, though because of the new design we might see a small increase in price. We'll be sure to update this article as soon as we find out more. 

HP Spectre x360 15t (2020)

(Image credit: Future)

Design

In a word, the new HP Spectre x360 is gorgeous. The gold trim around the side has this nice angular design that makes it look totally unique among other laptops in its class. The shape of the laptop is almost exactly the same as the 13-inch version (obviously it's bigger), and while it may take a minute to get used to where the power button is, once you do you may never want to go back. 

Because of this new chassis, this laptop is much smaller than in previous generations, to the tune of 13%. Not only does this mean it'll be easier to carry in your backpack, but it also means the display now has a massive 90% screen-to-body ratio. 

The power button is located on the back left corner of the laptop which, thanks to the angular design, should be accessible even when the laptop is in tablet mode. As for the ports, you'll find a Thunderbolt 3 port on the opposite side as the power button, which still seems like an odd place for a cable. 

On the right hand side of the laptop, you'll see a USB-C 3.1 port, along with USB-A next to a switch that will enable or disable your webcam. HP tells us that disabling the webcam essentially disconnects the device from the computer, so that hackers won't be able to get access to it – can't very well hack into a device that isn't even, connected, right?

The left side has your HDMI, headphone jack and SD Card slot. With all these ports, the HP Spectre x360 15t is a full-feature workstation, and you should be able to use pretty much any accessories or peripherals with it. 

As is usual with the HP Spectre x360 15t over the last few years, it's only available with a 4K display, only this time there's a twist: OLED. While the entry-level model still has a standard LED touch panel, you can upgrade that to OLED for increased color accuracy and brightness.

One thing that we'll continue to praise HP for is its dedication to having decent speakers on its premium devices. Unlike competitors like the Dell XPS 15 2-in-1, the Spectre x360 15t has speakers on the top of the laptop. We weren't able to blast any music in the press area, but judging by past laptops, this will be a device that you'll be able to truly enjoy your media on. 

When it comes to input, HP continues to produce some of the best solutions in the game. Not only is the keyboard nicely spaced with comfy keys, but there's still a numpad – a feature that for some reason keeps fading from mainstream laptops. The touchpad is great as well, with plenty of space for gestures. The pièce de résistance is the fact that it has Windows Hello both through the webcam and a fingerprint reader. 

HP Spectre x360 15t (2020)

(Image credit: Future)

Performance

Now, HP wouldn't tell us exactly what's behind the HP Spectre x360 15t, likely because the hardware isn't out yet. All we know is that it has 10th-Generation Intel Core processors and discrete Nvidia graphics. It's all very mysterious. 

However, the specifics don't really matter here. No matter the specific models that are going in the laptop we can straight up assume that it's going to be an Intel H-series processor and Nvidia MX-series graphics, unless HP goes all in and puts like an Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060 in there. Either way, this small, light and stylish laptop will likely be able to power through basically any task.

There is one tiny little detail that could hold this laptop back from truly taking on laptops like the MacBook Pro 16-inch, however, and that's the lack of RAM. Right now, this laptop will only be available with up to 16GB of memory. That's probably fine for most people, but if you're trying to do some hardcore creative work, you'll probably want to go with a laptop with 32GB. That's probably a pretty narrow group of people, but it's something to be aware of when you're shopping for a laptop of this class. 

Just keep in mind that we really won't know what this laptop is truly capable until we get it in our labs for testing, but rest assured that we will be doing so as soon as we possibly can. 

HP Spectre x360 15t (2020)

(Image credit: Future)

Early verdict

As always, the HP Spectre x360 15t is an attractive 2-in-1 laptop with powerful hardware and a unique design. We don't know when it's going to be hitting store shelves, or even how much it will cost, but it should give other laptops in its class some strong competition, especially if you're after a thin and light workstation that radiates style. 

The lack of a 32GB option holds it back from a recommendation for creatives and professionals, but with the 4K OLED panel this is prime for folks that want a portable entertainment device with no compromises. 

  • Check out all of TechRadar's CES 2020 coverage. We're live in Las Vegas to bring you all the breaking tech news and launches, plus hands-on reviews of everything from 8K TVs and foldable displays to new phones, laptops and smart home gadgets.

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.