Hands on: HP Spectre x360 2016

Kyle Wiggers

HP’s new Spectre x360 is an impressive 2-in-1 that’s competitive with the very best in its category.

The company formerly known as Hewlett-Packard is betting the farm — or a substantial slice of its corporate clientele, at the very least — on the HP Spectre x360, the newest ultraportable to grace the firm’s long running Envy series.

Thanks to bleeding-edge Intel silicon, a razor-thin design with folding hinge, and outstanding battery life, it measures up — and bests, in some ways — the very best laptops and 2-in-1s we’ve reviewed.

Edging closer to true bezel-free design

Perhaps the most striking element of the x360 is its narrow bezels. They’re thinner than last year’s model, and a smidgen smaller than even those of Dell’s XPS series.

All the more impressively, that shrinkage doesn’t appear to have necessitated concessions in other areas. The x360’s IPS display, measures 13.3 inches diagonally with a resolution of 1080p (1,920 x 1,080 pixels). The 2-in-1’s dual-action hinges allow it to twist backward into a tablet configuration — ideal for binging on Netflix on a crowded train, for instance, or presenting a slick PowerPoint to a room full of bespoke executives.

In our brief time with the x360 at HP’s open house in New York, the screen didn’t seem quite sharp as, say, the 3,200 x 1,800 (or higher) panels on high-end configurations of Dell’s XPS 13 and 15. And the glare from overhead lights was an omnipresent annoyance. But the x360 was just as bright and colorful as you’d hope, and we honestly think 1080p is an acceptable compromise for a 13-inch system, as it allows for improved battery life and lower base pricing.

Related: The best laptop you can buy

HP didn’t neglect sound in the pursuit of picture, thankfully. The company’s engineers managed to pack two additional speakers into the x360’s display, which in real-world terms means the 2-in-1’s “tablet” orientation is a little less compromising than it otherwise might be. You won’t have to forgo full-bodied, stereo audio when the display’s folded backward. The addition of the two screen-bound speakers makes for a total of four on this year’s x360, all with Bang & Olufsen’s pedigreed stamp of audiological approval.

hp spectre x hands on
hp spectre x hands on

Kyle Wiggers/Digital Trends

hp spectre x hands on
hp spectre x hands on

Kyle Wiggers/Digital Trends

hp spectre x hands on
hp spectre x hands on

Kyle Wiggers/Digital Trends

hp spectre x hands on
hp spectre x hands on

Kyle Wiggers/Digital Trends

All that’s somehow crammed into a body that’s two millimeters slimmer (down to 13.8mm, from 15.9mm), lighter (2.85 pounds), and smaller in overall footprint than last year’s model. It’s made of sleek, precision-machined aluminum that feels exceptionally solid. The membrane keys travel lightly (about 1.3mm), the trackpad glass — wider than last year’s model, it’s worth noting — feels smooth against the fingers, and the screen moves sturdily along the 360-degree hinge. It makes a great first impression.

Small outside, big inside

The real magic’s on the inside, though. The upgraded x360 sports Intel’s latest silicon. A 7th-generation Intel i5 or i7 processor is paired with up to 16GB of RAM, depending on how much you’re willing to spend. In terms of storage, it has a PCI Express solid state drive with either 256GB, 512GB, or 1TB capacities. And HP’s beefed up the battery, replacing last year’s with 57.8 watt-hour unit that the company said should last about 15 hours (a 25 percent improvement).

Better still, it supports HP’s Fast Charge feature, which the company said recharges the battery to 90 percent capacity in as little as 90 minutes. We’ll have to run the x360 through its paces when we’re afforded the opportunity, but on paper, at least, it packs a punch.

That’s not all that’s new and notable. The x360 is replete with an abundance of ports including two USB Type-C 3.1 / Thunderbolt 3 connections capable of, if you so require, simultaneous video out and power in. There’s a USB Type-C 3.0 port and HDMI in tow, plus an infrared sensor that supports Windows Hello facial recognition.

Related: HP Makes the Envy name premium again with new 2-in-1s, all-in-one, monitor

This year’s x360 seems like almost an entirely different beast than its predecessor. Digital Trend’s Matt Smith found the 2015 x360 to be somewhat of a disappointment, especially in the areas of performance and battery life, but HP appears to have taken that criticism to heart. This year’s model feels sturdy, its exterior is slim and smooth, its audio is powerful, and its display is bright. Just about everything has been upgraded.

With this year’s Spectre x360, HP’s crafted a compelling machine that steps comfortably beyond its professional demeanor. It puts flagships like Apple’s MacBook Pro and Dell’s XPS 13 its crosshairs. Time will tell whether or not it lives up to those expectations, but at first glance, it’s a promising attempt.

The most common configuration of x360 packs a Core i5-7200U processor, 8GB of RAM and 256GB SSD, and starts at $1,049. It goes on sale October 26.


  • Incredibly thin, attractive design
  • Loud speakers
  • Fast charging
  • Support for Windows Hello


  • No discrete graphics
  • Display is only 1080p