HP Spectre x360 (4K/Pen) First Impressions

Posted on April 4, 2017 by Paul Thurrott in Hardware, Windows 10 with 15 Comments

HP Spectre x360 (4K/Pen) First Impressions

In late 2016, I reviewed HP’s 2016 model Spectre x360, describing it a near-perfect convertible PC. Well, HP has already improved it, adding Active Pen support, plus optional 4KU/HD and that gorgeous Ash Silver and Copper coloring.

Yes, that’s a quick turnaround time. But one gets the feeling that HP senses it was on the brink of greatness with this device, and that just a few changes could really put this one over the top.

Well, they were right.

And in virtually all those areas where I described the original version of this convertible PC as “near-perfect,” it now seems to be pushing quite decidedly into “truly perfect” territory.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

First up, HP has added Active Pen support and, better yet, it now includes this peripheral with all new Spectre x360 units. As you may recall, this functionality was missing from the Spectre x360 that originally shipped in late 2016. But it was available for the (admittedly thicker and heavier) first-generation Spectre x360 that shipped back in early 2015.

Next is the screen, which in its original late 2016 guise was a nearly bezel-less 13.3-inch Full HD (1920 x 1080) IPS panel. For 2017, the nearly bezel-less design remains, as does the Full HD option. But now you can upgrade to a 4K/UHD display running at 3840 x 2160 if you prefer. (There’s no Quad HD option, so I suppose the theory here is go big or go Full HD.)

And … wow. I had described the Full HD panel on the previous unit as “ideal,” but from the moment the new 4K/UHD display powers on and displays the Windows 10 Home lock screen in all its pixelar glory, you can really see the difference. The question here, of course, is battery: HP made no specific claims here, but I will do my own testing regardless. The Full HD version of this laptop generally came in around 9.5 hours in my own use, so that’s the benchmark to beat.

The new color option is so much nicer looking than plain silver.

Finally, HP is also offering its gorgeous Ash Silver and Copper color scheme on the higher-end Spectre x360 configuration, which provides that 4K/UHD display. As was the case with the 15-inch Spectre x360 (2017) that I am also reviewing, this color scheme really puts the device over the top. It’s unique, professional, and gorgeous.

The 13-inch Spectre x360 is dramatically more mobile than its 15-inch sibling.

Beyond that, the revised Spectre x360 brings all of the benefits of the original version: The smaller, lighter form factor, the beautiful and versatile new design, the excellent typing and touchpad experiences, and its elegant combination of the forward-looking (USB-C/Thunderbolt 3) and the pragmatic (USB 3).

With these changes, there are now three primary Spectre x360 models, each of which provides a 7th-generation Intel Core i7 processor, a 13.3-inch display with multi-touch and pen support, and an Active Pen.

For $1200, you’re looking at 8 GB of RAM, 256 GB of SSD storage, Full HD, and the normal silver form factor. In the middle tier, at $1349, the RAM and SSD double to 16 GB and 512 GB, respectively. And at the high-end, we have the review unit, with a 4K/UHD display and the Ash Silver and Copper coloring. That unit prices out at $1600.

For my review, I’ll be focusing largely on the screen, the impact that has on battery, and on the Spectre’s renewed Active Pen support. Do these additions make the nearly perfect the truly perfect? My early assessment says yes, but there’s still much work to do.

More soon.


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Comments (15)

15 responses to “HP Spectre x360 (4K/Pen) First Impressions”

  1. Care

    Is the 4K also 16/512?

  2. Simard57

    Would you buy this for yourself

    if so, which model

  3. dprozzo

    I have Full HD, Ash Silver, i5 with 8GB RAM and 512GB HD, with Pen. Windows 10 Pro. Purchased Feb 2017. Configured at HP website. 25% off. Couldn't be happier.
    • MixedFarmer75

      In reply to dprozzo:

      Just bought the exact same thing., only 256 Gb. Nice machine. Replaced a 2012 Dell XPS 12. It had a 4-5 hour battery life tops. In comparison the HP seems to go forever. Huge improvement in 5 years. Was going to get an original Surface Book when the the 2nd version come out, but when it sounded like it was going to be a few more months I pulled the trigger on the X360. Definitely no regrets yet.

    • dprozzo

      BTW, the article implies that the Ash Silver is available only on high end configurations.  At the HP website, this color is a $10 option, apparently on any Spectre x360 ordered.
      A real advantage of this color - the keyboard markings show up better against the Ash Silver.  Some reviews of the Spectre in the basic silver color mentioned this as a negative, even with the back light on.

  4. wright_is

    Looks nice, but why do they botch it all by only supplying Windows 10 (Home) and not Professional at this price point?

  5. Otto Gunter

    How is the fan noise? My SP4 drives me nuts when it goes on for no reason.

  6. ahmed123

    Paul I am really wanting for your full review of 15'

    it is for me the best 15' 2-1 I wish they went with gtx1050 (Lenovo made it in 720)

    need to see if it good to handle editing some videos and light programming, nothing special

  7. DaveLG526

    That $1349 price for 16GB and 512 GB SSD is very nice. I hope these show up in the local Microsoft store soon

  8. Dan Francis

    Has anyone found the 13" 4K on HP's site? I can only find it on Best Buy. It sounds like a great machine since I've given up on a Surface refresh this spring.

  9. gvan

    Does it have a TPM (trusted platform module) chip for use with bitlocker? I'm seriously considering getting the 15 inch 4k Best Buy version next pay day but a TPM chip is a must have feature for me. The other must is that cool copper color!

  10. bsd107

    One thing I can't figure out is why HP only sells the 4K screen with Intel HD 620 graphics, while on the FullHD screen models you can configure (at a hefty price markup) with Intel Iris Plus 640 graphics. I would think you'd want the better graphics horsepower to drive the four times as many pixels on the 4K screen, but that is currently not an option....

  11. 12darline

    The 13" 4K Spectre x360 is a beautiful ultrabook. It is a shame that HP has crippled the charging with what is being called HP Charger DRM. They will not allow the use of any third party charger or docking station on this ultrabook. There is a bios fix that reverses this problem that a few individuals were able to get from HP, but they refuse to answer inquiries or provide updates to the public, though they have received several published request. That is really a shame, since the Spectre x360 is charged via a Thunderbolt 3 port that was designed by Intel to be universal. Maybe HP will eventually see the light and stop crippling their own products, which only enhances Dell and Lenovo, Asus and Acer.