HP Spectre x360 15 (2018) review

This powerful 2-in-1 just about does it all

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Our Verdict

If you’re looking for a device that can last all day, is powerful enough for casual gaming and doesn’t cost a future, then the Spectre x360 15 is worth considering.

For

  • Crisp display
  • Long battery life
  • Fast biometrics

Against

  • A little on the heavy side
  • Touchpad is finicky

The HP Spectre line of notebooks and 2-in-1 laptops varies from ultra-portable to more powerful. The x360 fits in the latter category, with a 360-degree hinge, stylus support and face and fingerprint scanning technology – all powered by Intel’s 8th-generation Core i7.

The Spectre x360 includes a 4K touchscreen and, surprisingly, a stylus – and it has long enough battery life to make it a worthy contender for the classroom and offices alike.

This class of computer is something nearly all manufacturers have, with devices from the likes of Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 to Microsoft Surface Book 2. But, how well does the Spectre x360 15 stack up against the competition?

HP Spectre x360 15

Spec Sheet

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).

In Australia, a similarly spec’d Spectre x360 is priced at AU$3,199. However, instead of using an Nvidia GPU, HP uses a Radeon RX Vega M and lowers the SSD storage space to 360GB instead of the 512GB seen in the US 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 Spectre x360 sits firmly between the XPS 15 and Surface Book 2 as far as price is concerned. The XPS 15, without a 4K display and with a Radeon Vega M GL GPU, 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 comparable 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.

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Design

The Spectre x360 has 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 the hinges. Opening the lid, you’re greeted with a vibrant 15.6-inch 4K display with slim bezels on the vertical sides, and a thicker bezel along to the top to make room for the webcam and face-scanning tech.

The touchpad is centered with the device itself, not 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 instead is found on the left side of the housing.

Also on the left is the charging port, a full-size USB 3.1 port, a speaker grille, a 3.5 mm headphone jack and a full-size SD card reader. On the right is a Thunderbolt port, a USB-C port, and an HDMI port. 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 rotating, the hinges on the Spectre x360 are strong enough that the screen stays put when switching between typing away on the keyboard and 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.

Display

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.

HP Spectre x360 15

Biometrics

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 are a stylus and a AAAA battery. Yes, that’s four A’s. We counted them a couple of times just to be sure. The 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 the pen is powered, the Spectre x360 automatically recognizes and accepts input from it.

We find the stylus to feel natural when jotting on the Spectre x360’s display, with very little latency between writing and marks showing up on the screen.

First reviewed July 2018