HP Spectre x360 (2017) Review: A Beautiful And Impressively Quiet Convertible

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HP Spectre x360 (2017): Design And Build Quality

The Spectre x360 comes in three color options, including Natural Silver (which is what we received), Dark Ash Silver, and Pale Rose Gold, the latter of which is a new color choice. All three are made of aluminum instead of carbon fiber (or plastic, which is typically reserved for budget laptops). HP also continues to offer both 13.3-inch and 15.6-inch models, the later of which we reviewed earlier this year before HP refreshed the design with new processor options.

HP Spectre x360 Open

Dell has been spoiling us with its InfinityEdge displays with barely any borders, like the one used on the XPS 13 (also with an 8th Generation upgrade) that recently came through our southern lab. On the sides, the Spectre x360's bezel is almost as thin, but it has a fatter top bezel. Unlike the XPS 13, however, the webcam is not awkwardly placed in the lower left section of the Spectre x360, and instead is situated at the top, lined up at the center. This makes it easier to broadcast yourself in full view, whereas it takes some finagling on the XPS 13.

Compared to last year's model, the bezels all around are slightly thinner, by 1.6 percent—they now measure 17.35mm on the sides, 5.75mm on the top, and 34.17mm on the bottom, versus 17.94mm, 5.9mm, and 34.33mm, respectively on the 2016 build. It is not all that noticeable without a side-by-side comparison, but is a welcome refinement nonetheless.

There is no HDMI output or Gigabit LAN connectivity, though if you need those things, HP sells an assortment of USB-C adapters.

As to the actual display panel, the one HP sent us has a 1920x1080 resolution. With the brightness cranked up to 100 percent, we measured around 345 lux, which is on the higher side of most laptops we've tested. Photos and movies look superb on the Spectre x360, with great color saturation and generous viewing angles, both horizontally and vertically.

HP Spectre x360 Keyboard

HP Spectre x360 Keyboard LED

HP crammed a full-size keyboard onto the Spectre x360. It does not have a dedicated number pad, as is the case with pretty much every 13.3-inch laptop, though HP was able to fit all four arrow keys in the lower right corner. There is also a column of keys on the right for convenient access to the Delete, Home, Page Up, Page Down, and End keys. And of course the row of Function keys offer secondary commands, including media controls, brightness adjustment, and so forth.

The keyboard offers good resistance when typing, with adequate spacing to avoid accidentally pressing the wrong key. In fact, the distance from the Q to P (as well as the other rows) is the same as an external keyboard, so no adjustment is needed to how you normally space out your fingers. The keys are backlit too, which we always like to see on a laptop. Our only gripe is that the keyboard is a little slippery. The keycaps have the same metallic feel as the chassis, and they are flat instead of curved or indented, giving them a somewhat slick feel.

HP Spectre x360 Touchpad

An extra wide glass trackpad sits in the center of the palm wrest and offers plenty of room for swipes and gestures. This is one of the longer trackpads out there. We didn't run into any trouble getting it to register our commands, such as pinch-to-zoom. That wasn't the case with last year's Spectre x360 15, which we found required more deliberate input for consistent gesture recognition. There is no mention of the trackpad being changed on this year's 13.3-inch model, so either things improved with updated drivers, or we've slowed down our gesture game since last year. Either way, the trackpad on this model is very good.

It's also attractive. The trackpad is ever-so-slightly pitted into the frame, and the bezel that wraps around it has a reflective finish that is visible at certain angles. It's a subtle and visually appealing touch.

HP Spectre x360 Ports Left Side
HP Spectre x360 Ports (Left)

HP Spectre x360 Ports Right Side
HP Spectre x360 Ports (Right)

The Spectre x360 is another thin and light laptop that pushes USB-C connectivity, though not at the complete expense of the Type-A form factor. On the left side is a USB 3.1 Gen 1 port (5Gbps, same as USB 3.0), a 3.5mm audio jack (hooray!), a microSD card slot (new for this year's model), and the power button.

On the other side of the laptop, HP squeezed in a pair of Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) ports with data transfer speeds of up to 40Gbps (theoretical maximum), power delivery, DisplayPort 1.2, and HP Sleep and Charge functionality. There is also a fingerprint reader that works with Windows Hello, and a stiff volume rocker.

Not Just a Laptop

HP Spectre x360 Tent

One of the reasons to go shopping for a 2-in-1 is so you can use it both as a laptop and a tablet, and everything in between. Ordinary laptops would snap in half if you tried to bend it backwards into a tent, but no so with the Spectre x360. Tent mode is handy for sharing photos or PowerPoint presentations. It can also be useful for watching videos in the kitchen while you cook dinner.

HP Spectre x360 Stand

Stand mode is also good for watching videos and movies. And because the Spectre x360 can fold all the way back on itself, you can angle the display to suit your preference—the hinges are sturdy enough to hold the panel at any angle.

HP Spectre x360 Tablet

Whereas detachables let you remove the display to use the system as a tablet, convertibles maintain a connection to the keyboard. The keys are disabled in Tablet mode so that you can hold the system normally or lay it flat on a table.

The Spectre x360 also comes with a feature-rich Stylus. It has 1,024 levels of pressure sensitivity, a Bluetooth button at the top that also serves as an eraser, a USB Type-C charging connector, and a right-click button.

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