I learned to build computers at a young age, so I’ve mostly had desktops my whole life. My work stayed at work and when I needed to use a computer at home, I sat at my desk. In fact, I’m typing this very blog on a homemade desktop computer.
These days, however, I respect the power of mobile computing much more, having lived in a van and traveled to trade shows for the past several years. Running off solar power, I couldn’t justify the desktop power and had to lighten the load. Having run through a variety of laptops and tablets, I’ve learned there are quite a few I can live with.
After spending a week with HP’s latest Spectre x360 Convertible, I decided it’s one I can definitely live with. The beautiful design is similar to Lenovo’s Yoga Book, but in a much larger form factor. It’s great for entertainment purposes, but I found it a little lacking in productivity features and unfit for gaming.
While I wouldn’t use it as my primary computer, HP Spectre is lightweight, fast, and a great way to stay connected while on the go.
Under the Hood
The Spectre I got in from HP is packed with a 2.70 and 2.90 GHz 7th gen Intel Core i7 processor, 16 GB RAM, a 512GB SSD (466 usable), an Nvidia GeForce 940MX with 2GB VRAM and Intel HD Graphics 620.
The touchpad is 5.5 x 2.5 and wider than your typical touchpad as it also functions as a pen input. The 15.6-inch display can display 3840×2160 4K UHD resolution. At 4.4 lbs, it’s a little heavier than the comparable Yoga Book, but still much lighter than most.
On the left side, you’ll find a USB 3.0 port, headphone jack, and SD Card slot, and on the right are an HDMI, Thunderbolt, and USB-C charging port. It also comes with three dongles in the box to convert USB-C to Ethernet, VGA, and full-sized USB.
The model I got was matte black with a metallic bronze trim and logo. Having not used an HP since my days at the banks, I appreciated the new logo – whichever direction you look at it, it still says HP. An included leather sleeve protects the Spectre while travelling.
Working and Playing on the Go
I got the Spectre in the mail the day a friend was on here way up with her young daughter for a camping expedition, so I quickly ran through the installation process to get her up and running before they got here. We brought it out with us, and I let the little one use it in the tent to watch Zootopia while we talked by the campfire.
It took some time to prepare the computer because as a habit, I remove bloatware and trial programs that plague retail computer builds. Expect all sorts of apps you don’t need like Twitter, Facebook, Candy Crush Soda Saga, etc.
She held up well through the smudges, but I did scratch the trim a little cleaning up. The battery held up for the entirety of the movie, along with approximately 2 hours of install time, attempting to install/play Smite, and several occasional openings to check on things. I then let it sit for several days in standby and there was still a strong charge. All in all, I got over 9 hours out of the battery before I needed to charge it.
Of course, this wasn’t 9 hours of continuously using WiFi and playing games to max out the hardware, just average usage. The webcam is about as good as my Galaxy S7 and nothing to write home about, though it is capable of video chat. I won’t have a chance to run it in extreme temperatures until summer, but based on the small size, I don’t expect it to hold up well in a car in Phoenix.
Connections through both WiFi and Bluetooth are strong, and at one point I even noticed it stuck when my desktop (which has an external USB WiFi adapter) dropped its internet signal.
Connectivity and Entertainment
I have some annoying data habits I’ve picked up over the years. For example, I often find myself emailing myself a file just to get it quickly from my phone to a desktop or laptop. Sometimes I just don’t have a cable on me, and others, there’s a problem with the connection. One of the more useful apps included with Spectre is the HP Orbit software, that relieves this issue.
Once I downloaded the app on my Android phone (also works on iOS), I was able to seamlessly transfer files between my phone and laptop. When used in conjunction with Nikon’s SnapBridge platform, transferring photos between devices became a seamless process.
Bang & Olufsen provide the speakers, and they sound as great as you’d expect from such a portable device. You’re certainly not going to get trunk-rattling bass out of it, but you can with proper headphones, thanks to the B&O audio control panel.
Although I was able to install a few games, even a simple Moba like Smite froze up the Spectre. It handled Hearthstone alright, but there wasn’t much beyond casual gaming I’d try on it.
I’ve never known HP to be innovators in design, but this hinged convertible laptop is definitely up there with the Lenovo Yoga Book. However, for the $1599.99 price point of the model I reviewed, I’d expect to be able to get more gaming out of it. The majority of the price appears to go toward solid state storage and the 4k touchscreen.
This keeps it from being a primary machine. Still, it’s a great secondary productivity device that can handle a little more than a tablet. Photo editing, listening to music, and browsing the web didn’t get in the way of each other while I worked.
Final Grade: B-