In years past, the HP Spectre line of Ultrabooks has always comprised of notebooks that are both ultra-portable and ultra-powerful. The HP Spectre x360 15 continues this trend perfectly, with a flexible hinge, stylus support and both facial recognition and a fingerprint sensor. Beyond that, the Intel Kaby Lake Refresh processors are just gravy.
With a beautiful 4K touchscreen and a stylus, the HP Spectre x360 15 is one of the best 2-in-1 laptops on the market. It even has long enough battery life to make it a worthwhile purchase for the classroom and office alike.
The HP Spectre x360 15 is the kind of device that basically every PC manufacturer on the planet carries, with products like the Microsoft Surface Book 2 and the Dell XPS 15 2-in-1. But, with all this competition, it can be difficult to stand out. How does the HP Spectre x360 15 compare to its competitors? Let’s find out.
Here is the HP Spectre x360 15 configuration sent to TechRadar for review:
CPU: 1.8GHz Intel Core i7-8550U (quad-core, 8MB cache, up to 4.0GHz with Turbo Boost)
Graphics: Nvidia GeForce MX150 (2GB GDDR5 RAM); Intel UHD Graphics 620
RAM: 16GB DDR4
Screen: 15.6-inch 4K UHD (3,840 x 2,160) IPS WLED backlit
Storage: 512GB SSD (PCIe NVMe M.2)
Ports: 1 x Thunderbolt 3, 1 x USB-C 3.1, 1 x USB 3.1 Type-A, 1 x HDMI, 1 x 3.5mm audio jack, 1 x SD card reader
Connectivity: Intel 802.11b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi (2x2), Bluetooth 4.2
Camera: FHD webcam
Weight: 4.59 pounds (2.14kg)
Size: 14.13 x 9.84 x 0.76-inches (35.9 x 25 x 1.94 cm; W x D x H)
Price and availability
This particular model of the Spectre x360 in the US is currently priced at $1,399 (about £1,055, AU$1,873) at the time of writing. Its regular price of $1,599 (about £1,206, AU$2,140) includes everything you see in the spec list to the right.
A slightly less expensive model is available in the US, priced at $1,369 (about £1,032, AU$1,833). For a couple hundred dollars of savings, you get the same processor, 8GB of memory, the same 4K display, and 256GB of storage. On the high end of the customization options is a 2TB SSD and an Intel Core i7-8705G for roughly $2,369 (about £1,787, AU$3,172).
If you’re in Australia, you can pick up a similar Spectre x360 for AU$3,199. However, instead of using an Nvidia GPU, HP uses a Radeon RX Vega M GPU and lowers the SSD space to 360GB instead of the 512GB in the American model. It’s a decent trade off, considering the processor is bumped up to the Intel Core i7-8705G.
HP takes a similar approach in the UK, using a Radeon GPU and faster processor while cutting the included memory down to 8GB and leaving the SSD at 512GB.
The HP Spectre x360 15 sits comfortably between the Dell XPS 15 and the Surface Book 2 when it comes to price. The XPS 15, without a 4K display and with discrete-class Radeon Vega graphics, starts at $1,299 (about £957, AU$1,653). Bumping up the display’s resolution to get closer to the Spectre’s 4K capabilities, you’re looking at $2,099 for a similar XPS 15.
With the Surface Book 2, however, you’re looking at $2,499 (£2,349, AU$3,649) for the entry-level model, equipped with a beefier Nvidia GTX 1060.
The HP Spectre x360 15 has a sleek and elegant appeal to it. A dark gray housing is broken up only by shiny gold highlights on the edges, surrounding the touchpad and its hinges. Once you open the lid, you’ll be greeted by a vibrant 15.6-inch 4K touch display with slim bezels on the vertical sides and a thicker bezel along the top to make room for the webcam and Windows Hello tech.
The touchpad is actually centered with the device itself, rather than the keyboard, making it slightly off center to the left, thanks to a number pad to the right of the keyboard. A power button isn’t visible or tucked into the keyboard, but rather it’s located on the left side of the chassis.
On the left side of the HP Spectre x360 15, you’ll find a charging port, a full-size USB 3.1 port, a speaker grille, a 3.5mm headphone jack and a full-size SD card reader. On the right is a Thunderbolt 3 port, a USB-C port and an HDMI input. There’s also another speaker grille, a fingerprint sensor and a volume rocker.
By placing the fingerprint sensor, power and volume keys on the sides of the housing, HP made it possible to unlock or adjust volume when the screen is rotated all the way into tablet mode.
Speaking of rotation, the hinges on the HP Spectre x360 15 are strong enough that the screen stays in place whether you’re typing away on the keyboard or tapping the screen to select items.
With total measurements of 14.13 x 9.84 x 0.76 inches (35.9 x 25 x 1.94cm; W x D x H) and weighing in at 4.59 pounds (2.14kg), you’ll need to be ready to lug this machine around. Admittedly, it’s not the heaviest laptop we’ve reviewed, but it a bit on the hefty side for a convertible device. In other words, you aren’t going to want to hold this in tablet mode for too long.
To our eyes, the screen on the Spectre x360 is sharp and crisp, if not a little over saturated in color. The text is free of any pixelation, and images appear clear as well.
Watching a movie or brewing your favorite sub on Reddit, you’ll find very little to fault with the display used on the HP Spectre x360.
The Spectre x360 makes for a good Windows Hello partner, offering both a fingerprint sensor and facial recognition. We set up both unlock methods during our testing and found the facial scanning tech to be faster and easier to use.
As you wake the laptop, it begins looking for your face using the webcam at the top of the display. Within a blink of an eye (but try to avoid blinking too much), the Spectre unlocks.
The fingerprint sensor is on the right side of the laptop, next to the volume rocker. It’s slightly recessed with the housing, making it easy to find just by feel. But in our testing, we have a hard time lining up our registered finger with the sensor to get a consistent reading and, in turn, unlock the laptop.
Stylus and pen input
Included in the box is a stylus and an AAAA battery. Yeah, four A’s – we counted them a few times just to be sure. The HP Spectre x360 15 pen has two buttons on it, one to erase part of your writing or drawing and the other to select an item or right click on something.
There’s a comforting level of familiarity when holding the stylus, with similar weight to that of a regular pen or pencil. Turing on the stylus is done by tapping the tip to a surface, then gliding it across the display of the Spectre x360.
Even though the stylus requires power, there isn’t a convoluted Bluetooth pairing or setup process. Once you turn the pen on, the HP Spectre x360 15 automatically recognizes and accepts input from it.
We found the stylus to feel natural when jotting on the HP Spectre x360 15’s display, with very little latency between writing and marks appearing on the display.
First reviewed July 2018