HP Spectre x360 15 (2018) hands-on review

LAS VEGAS: HP unveiled a new version of the Spectre x360 at CES this week, and we hit the show floor to get our hands on the Lenovo Yoga-esque device, which can transform into multiple modes.

Improving on last year’s model, HP claims the new version offers “the world’s longest battery life in a quad-core convertible”, with the firm promising up to 16.5 hours on a single charge.

We got our mitts on the device to see if the product lived up to its own hype. 

Besides a new darker colour scheme, the new HP Spectre x360 15 is aesthetically indistinguishable from the old model. It’s still got that brushed aluminium unibody, huge trackpad, backlit keyboard, rounded rear edges and unfortunately, a rather chunky form factor compared to some of its recently-released counterparts, measuring 19.3mm thick.

It’s not exactly light either, weighing in at 2.09kg for the Nvidia version and 2.14kg for the AMD model. This laptop will definitely make more of a difference to your backpack than some of the other Intel laptop designs on display at CES this week.  

Nevertheless, HP has made far better use of the space afforded it with a new number pad on the keyboard deck. Connectivity options aren’t limited as a result, either. In addition to two Thunderbolt 3 ports, HP has embedded one USB 3.1 port, one HDMI port and one headset jack. The Intel-and-Nvidia model is a little different, however, and houses just one Thunderbolt 3 port, but an extra USB-C 3.1 port as well as the one USB 3.1 port, one HDMI port and one headset jack. As you’d expect, there’s your standard 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.2 connectivity options, too.

As we found when we tested the previous Spectre x360, HP’s triple spiral gear mechanism makes for a very strong hinge, which nonetheless doesn’t demand an unreasonable amount of force to rotate. Crucially, it holds firm and steady when in a tent or stand configuration.

If you’re familiar with the Spectre x360’s keyboard, expect a similar experience here: a little disappointing that is, with flimsy-feeling keys that lack the satisfying, clicky feedback of other convertibles we’ve used. As for the touchpad, it seems to operate just fine – it’s just on the small side for a laptop of its size.

The 2018 edition of the HP Spectre x360 sports a 15.4in 4K display with a massive 3,840x 2,160 resolution, surrounded by ‘micro-edge’ bezels, which is gorgeous – in the right light. This is one very reflective display, with the show floor’s various lamps casting a blinding light onto the hapless convertible. In the sun, we can imagine it’s a lot worse.

On the upside, the display’s resolution ensures beautiful sharpness even on the large screen, with a relatively high pixel density. Colour balance is great, too, and we couldn’t spot any colours, whites or blacks that looked unusually dim or flat.

Viewing angles are extremely wide, too thanks to its IPS tech, and there’s little discernible distortion even when viewing from acute angles.

The Spectre x360 15 comes powered by Intel’s new 8th-gen processors alongside a 512GB SSD. While that sounds very tempting: the capacity of a decent hard drive with the speed of a solid-state, which explains the thicker form factor.

Testing it on productivity tasks such as web browsing and document editing, the Spectre x360 15 purred along nicely and we didn’t experience any performance issues during our hands-on.

As for the battery, HP promises up to 13.5 hours of juice on a single charge, which we’ll put to the test, of course, when we get the laptop in for a full review. There’s also integrated fast charging capabilities, which will see it getting a 50 per cent charge in just 45 minutes.

First impressions
With a meaty Intel 8th-gen Core CPU and Windows 10 straight out of the box, all signs point to this being a worthy update to the Spectre x360.

Of course, anything less would be disastrous for HP. Big players like Lenovo and Dell are also revamping their product lines with Intel’s 8th-generation chips, setting up a potentially vicious hardware brawl for 2018. Fortunately for this particular convertible, it’s got the specs and the performance to hold its own.

The new HP Spectre x360, which will be made available in Ash Copper and Pale Rose Gold, will be also arriving in the UK next month, with pricing starting from a whopping £1299.99. It will ship bundled with a Windows Ink Certified pen that’s rechargeable via USB-C, a fingerprint scanner and Windows Hello support. µ

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