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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