Honest review: HP Spectre x360 2017

At the beginning of the year I was in the market for a new laptop for university. There were so many options to choose from however I ended up picking the fully spec’d HP. Here is my take on this device.

The Spectre x360 is one of the most versatile 2 in 1 laptops on the market, however it falls short of being the perfect laptop. The version I purchased was the top of the line model, costing just over 2 grand with the 40% off student discount. If you are unaware of this discount and are a student, register through unidays to obtain this discount. Let’s go through this laptop category by category.

Build quality

WIthout a shadow of a doubt, the HP spectre x360 has one of the best build qualities in its class. The slim bezels are appealing, giving the sense of a larger screen, and an all aluminum chassis makes the laptop feel extremely premium. The keyboard layout spans the entirety of the laptop, even including function keys above the left arrow key. What sets this laptop apart from the competitors is the speaker setup, the modern looking grille on the top and two downward face speakers. making the spectre sound louder than a mid-ranged portable bluetooth speaker.

My biggest complaint comes from the hinges of the laptop as well as the colouring of the keyboard. The hinges are stable enough so when typing on a solid surface, no screen wobble is experienced, however once you take away the solid surface, the spectre’s screen starts to produce noticeable wobble. Furthermore, the screen wobble is definitely noticeable when using the touch functionalities.  What the HP should of done with the keyboard is produce some contrast, like the new 360 elitebook where the keyboard is contrasted against the body of the machine. Fortunately, buyers are now given the option of choosing the black and gold colour scheme over the silver. In my opinion, the keyboard has to be one of the best feeling keyboards on the market, the travel distance is perfect for my taste and the massive trackpad is a huge bonus. Unfortunately, the trackpad can feel mushy at times and the key spacing can be a struggle with those with smaller hands. Apart from that, the build quality is 4.5 out of 5.

Features

The Spectre unfortunately has a limited range of ports, however this range contains the best of both worlds, two thunderbolt usb-c ports and 1 usb 3.1 port. My purchase came with three free dongles, HDMI, ethernet and VGA. Out of the three I have been given, only the HDMI dongle has been used. What I would recommend purchasing with this laptop is a USB-C to SD card reader as the lack of the SD card reader can be disappointing and a hassle. Upon signing in, you may see two red lights flash up next to the webcam, these are the built in infrared cameras which are linked to windows hello. The sign in process is surprisingly very fast, I would often open the laptop before reaching a desk and I would already be signed in. Be mindful that this feature can drain your battery as well as leaving cortana on. Now, one feature I was impressed with was the screen, the screen is very bright and can easily be seen in direct sunlight at full brightness. In my lecture theatres, I find the lowest setting too bright, which is a compliment to the screen. However, the glossy screen is a fingerprint magnet, though cleaning it with a cloth is easy and worth the effort. The features comes in as a 4.5 out of 5.

Performance

So far, the performance of the HP spectre has been inconsistent, very inconsistent. At times, the laptop would speed through many opened applications, including chrome, photoshop, spotify and utorrent. However, at other times, chrome begins to freeze, word begins to freeze and spotify becomes extremely distorted. I cannot confirm this has to do with the machine or chrome, but it sometimes can be a real hassle. Another thing to note is that this is not a gaming machine and was never built as a gaming machine, I mean it can still play games, but don’t expect to be running crysis 3 on max settings, or any game for that matter on maximum settings. I installed Overwatch and got a mixed bag performance, I wouldn’t recommend playing competitive. Though for the light casual gamer, this machine performs more than adequate playing League of Legends and Civilisation V. Another thing to note is that when the laptop is installing applications, prepare for the fan to spin up and expect the fans to go wild when playing games or using any cpu intensive application. My laptop contains the 7th generation Intel core i7 -7500U cpu, however the Intel core i5 processor is more than adequate enough. Storage wise, the PCIe-NVMe storage is crazy fast and if you have the budget, definitely do not shy away from the 1tb option, you will not regret. The performance comes in as a 4 out of 5.

Battery Life

Big promises were made with this laptop, HP claimed a battery life of some ridiculous number in the 15 hour region. Trust me, you will never get this figure, heck you will able to get 8 hours! The most I have ever gotten out of this laptop is close to 8 hours of productivity, this was when the laptop was new. Like any lithium power device, the battery capacity shortens up to around 20% over one year, currently it’s shortened by around 4% 4 months in. Though with constant day to day use, you will see figures of around 6 hours. If you are a uni student like me, you will find ports everywhere you go. The battery comes in as a 4 out of 5.

Complaints

There are a few complaints you should know of before you buy this laptop. The first one being that this laptop can get hot, despite its new fan cooling design. It is a step in the right direction, but it would be one of the worst in its class when it comes to cooling. To put this in perspective, when I was charging this laptop and typing this review, my water bottle next to the fan got lukewarm, yes lukewarm, something you would find after leaving your drink bottle in the car in direct sunlight for a few hours.

Another major complaint is the weird beeps when the cpu goes from an intense state into the low energy state. Yes, I will make it clear, the laptop shrieks when you close the lid after the cpu has had an intensive session. Other users have experienced this. This isn’t something that will affect the performance, but it does get annoy and can freak other people out, especially in a lecture theatre. The noise is not appealing at all.

Overall thoughts

This laptop is one of the most underrated laptops in Australia, the marketing for this product is minimal and only appears once you have googled it, damn cookies! This product is as close as it can get to perfection when compared to its competitors. The dell xps 2 in 1 is underpowered compared to this machine, the surface book is possibly the only closest competitor. HP have stepped in the right direction with this laptop, if they keep up with this pace, we should be seeing some killer laptops in the near future.

If you are in the market for a new laptop that is light, powerful and has decent battery life, this laptop is for you if you don’t mind having a touchscreen that can flip into a tablet. This laptop is the jack of all trades but is the master of none, it does everything well but doesn’t do anything exceptionally well. It is a very solid laptop that would receive my recommendation.

Total score: 17/20 = 85%

Competitors:

  • Lenovo Yoga 910
  • Dell XPS 13 2 in 1
  • Microsoft surface book 

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