The HP Spectre X360 15 (2017) has a very good mix of design, performance, usability and price

Highs

  • Beautiful 2-in-1 design
  • Large battery and low-power CPU
  • Excellent audio quality
  • Very good keyboard+trackpad, excellent display

Lows

  • Not a light 15.6-inch computer
  • No fingerprint reader

Rating and Price

  • Rating: 9/10

Building on the design of the 2016 HP Spectre X360 15 laptop, HP has pushed this model further with the addition of the latest Intel processors, a discrete graphics chip, a larger battery capacity and many more features. At the same time, this computer retains and improves upon the excellent industrial design that made its predecessor popular. Add to this a relatively aggressive pricing, and you have a 15.6” laptop computer worth considering. The new HP Spectre X360 15 2017 was announced at CES 2017 (model 15-bl002xx), and here’s our review.

Configuration, as reviewed

  • Core i7-7500U CPU 16GB RAM, GeForce 940MX GPU
  • 512GB SSD NVME PCIE
  • 15.6” UHD IPS LED Touch-screen (3840 x 2160) + N-Trig Digitizer Pen
    WiFi AC + Bluetooth 4.0
  • 79.2 Wh battery
  • Dimensions: 14 x 9.88 x 0.7 in, 4.42 Lbs
  • $1499 on HP.com as tested (May 17 2017)

Industrial design

The HP Spectre 360 15” has a beautiful industrial design. While we reviewed the “silver” version last year, this time we are looking at the “Dark Ash Silver” model, which is, in fact, a metallic dark brown with copper accents. Although we are not sure why it is called silver by HP, we like the design very much. Check the photo gallery to form your opinion, but we will say that it is classy and probably the most beautiful laptop in its category.

"PROBABLY THE MOST BEAUTIFUL LAPTOP IN ITS CATEGORY"This computer has an all-metal construction, and you can tell: it is extremely rigid and seem really solid. It will not bend or twist when you hold it. At 4.41 Lbs, it is not the lightest computer in its category which ranges from 3.96 Lbs (Dell XPS 15) to 4.62 Lbs (Gigabyte Aero 15). As you will see later, PC makers have worked diligently to make each computer distinguishable from competitors.

As a result, the HP Spectre X360 15 (model 15-bl002xx here) also comes with a digital N-Trig pen that makes it attractive to a specific public. Also, the fact that it has a 2-in-1 360-degrees swivel design allows it to work well in “flat” (180-degrees open) and “tablet” (360-degrees) modes, which is not the case for all competitors in the 15.6” category.

The advantage of the multi-mode (360-swivel) design is that it combines the productivity of a laptop, with a functional tablet-mode. It is, however, a laptop-first design, which means that the “tablet mode” would be a bit better with a tablet-first mobile computer such as the Surface 4 Pro, for example.

Keyboard / Trackpad

As usual, HP has integrated a huge trackpad (140x65mm) which is just a few millimeters smaller than a Galaxy S8 smartphone in touch surface area (!).  A larger keypad makes touch interactions more comfortable, especially if you use Windows swipe gestures.

The keyboard has a key-travel of 1.5mm, which makes the keystrokes comfortable in my opinion (and for my taste). We all have different preferences, so if there’s an optimum key travel that you like, you should try to figure out which distance (in mm) it is, and keep it for future reference. They key size is about 15x15mm.

IR Camera for face unlock, but no fingerprint reader

The HP Spectre 360 15 (2017) is compatible with Windows Hello and supports sign-ins with facial recognition, but does not have a fingerprint reader. Both fingerprint and facial login provide a high degree of convenience and allow you to quickly log-in in a few seconds, with nearly zero errors. That should encourage you to use more secure (text) passwords (here’s how to create strong passwords), and lock your computer as soon as you leave the area.

We know that fingerprints provide a very strong entropy (complexity), which is similar to having an extremely long password. How secure the IR front camera has not been widely studied (it depends on the biometric data quality), We know that this IR camera prevents easy spoofing such as using photos. That is because the face from a photo or a screen does not show up in the IR camera (it looks like a blank sheet of paper): IR just works on a different wavelength.

Ports

  • The right side has 1x (full-size) HDMI, 1x USB 3.1 Type-C Gen 1 (HP Sleep and Charge) and 1x 1 Thunderbolt 3 (HP Sleep and Charge). Either USB-C ports can be used to charge the laptop.
  • The left side has 1x headphone/microphone combo, 1x USB 3.1 Gen 1 (HP Sleep and Charge) and an SD Card reader.

We like the presence of USB-C with Thunderbolt 3 (40 Gbps), along with the USB 3.1 ports, both in USB-C and USB-A (classic) connectors. If you have many legacy devices such as Ethernet adapters and mice, you may find yourself running out of USB-A ports, but an adapter can easily fix this.

Note that while many adapters are present in our review package (USB to Ethernet, and more ), they are NOT included in the retail box, so you have to purchase them separately. At Ubergizmo, we typically use 3rd party combo adapters that merge USB, Ethernet and maybe even card readers or video-out. With USB-C+Thunderbolt 3, these have become quite useful and efficient.

Overall product rating: 9/10

Filed in Computers >Reviews. Read more about HP, Laptop Reviews and Laptops.

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