HP Spectre x360 15-bl001ng
Reviews for the HP Spectre x360 15-bl001ng
Source: c't - 7/2017
Single Review, , Length Unknown, Date: 03/15/2017
Hands-on article by Jagadisa Rajarathnam
The HP Spectre x360 Series is a series of convertible laptop for business productivity. Thanks to its 360 degrees hinge, it supports four modes. It features a 6th generation Intel Core processor with HD Graphics 520 up to the Intel Core i7-6500U, up to 16 GB LPDDR3-1866 SDRAM and a 256 GB mSATA SSD, which is definitely high performance hardware. Depending on the model, the 15.6-inch touchscreen either features FHD resolution or UHD resolution (3840 x 2160 pixels) and IPS technology.
According to HP, the Spectre x360 Series boasts a battery life of up to 12:30 hours. In addition, the Windows 10 system uses an HP TrueVision HD Webcam (front-facing) with integrated dual array digital microphone and quad speakers with Bang & Olufsen audio. For wireless connectivity, it has a WiFi and Bluetooth 4.0 combo adapter. The connectivity includes a USB 3.0 Type-C port, three USB 3.0 ports, an HDMI 2.0 port with HDCP 2.2 support, a Mini DisplayPort and a headphone/microphone combo.
Press Review by Capuchino Saber
Convertible laptops become one of the most favorite trends these days due to the convenience it could bring to user. It is visibly seen that the trend of 2-in-1 ultrabooks is upward quickly to supply user’s multi-purpose, especially the entertainment purposes, such as: surfing the internet, watching movies, listening to music or even playing some games. That’s why there are much more convertible notebook versions built to satisfy this demands better, and the HP Spectre x360 15-inch is not an exception. The previous version - HP Spectre x360 13-inch Ultrabook got positive evaluations. However, the new HP Spectre x360 15-inch version is bigger, heavier and more powerful than its predecessor, the Spectre 13-inch notebook. HP ameliorated the 4K screen, pen support and improved the battery life longer for this newest version, the Spectre x360 15-inch. HP has built many different versions for customers, so that they could easily choose the most suitable version to their purposes. We will have a look on the most premium version of this ultrabook which features an Intel Kaby Lake i7-7500U processor, 16 GB of RAM, an Nvidia GeForce 940MX discrete graphics card and a 512 GB SSD.
The Spectre x360, which is remarked by page LaptopMag, is one of the most handsome laptops on the market: “The copper accents give HP its own distinct aesthetic compared to all of the silver notebooks on the market. The Spectre feels premium too, thanks to its CNC aluminum body”. According to page PasteMagazine, the 15-inch Spectre x360 carries the same design DNA as its smaller 13-inch sibling. But, with a machined metal body, this convertible laptop is as visually stunning as it is durable. Also, “I think the Spectre x360 is by far one of the nicest looking and quality feeling Windows laptops, even besting Microsoft’s Surface series”, said the reviewer of page WindowsCentral. Similarly, page ArsTechnica left a comment that this ultrabook took the best parts of a good convertible - a light build and well-designed frame - and combined them with necessities of a laptop - good battery life, strong performance, and a solid selection ports. As a review from page GizMoDo, the handsome design of the new x360 comes with “a much smaller bezel than last year’s model”, and “an aluminum body that manages to feel svelte despite being a tad thicker than its predecessor”. Moreover, it’s gained the extra thickness to pack in a larger battery, which gave me 10 hours of mixed usage at 70 percent brightness. Mentioning the HP Spectre x360 15’s appearance, the page TechRadar said that it was guaranteed to catch you a few jealous stares while working from a coffee shop on a Tuesday afternoon. Overall, “At 4.4 pounds and 14 x 8.9 x 0.7 inches, the Spectre is a fairly average size and weight for a 15-inch 2-in-1” (LaptopMag).
“With 72 percent Adobe RGB color accuracy, the display is good, but not the most color accurate, the Surface Pro 4 and the Surface Book offer more accurate displays, I found, but compared to OLED panels, colors are more balanced, without overly punchy saturation, on the Spectre” (PasteMagazine). With the same opinion, the reviewer of page WindowsCentral supposed that the 4K (3840 x 2160) IPS display HP uses in the Spectre x360 15 is a different class than the Sharp IGZO display found in Dell’s XPS line. Also commented from this page, the colors are not overly vibrant, and while the screen is glossy, the reviewer didn’t find reflections too bothersome. “I was blown away by the colors on the Spectre x360’s 15.6 inch, 4K touch screen, but I wish it were a tad brighter”, said LaptopMag. In contrast, regarding the ComputerShopper, they watched a variety of natively stored and Youtube-stream 4K video, and all looked impressively sharp, with only modest glare evident on the glossy screen. The HP Spectre x360 15’s screen, as remarked from LaptopMag, could also be a bit brighter: “It measured an average 255 nits on our light meter, which is lower than the mainstream average (268 nits), the Notebook 7 Spin (260 nits) and the Lenovo Yoga 910 (292 nits)”. Moreover, the WindowsCentral’s reviewer gave a perspective that the look of this screen is the opposite of AMOLED and other technologies that offer high contrast at the expense of looking fake. He sometimes found Dell’s IGZO 4K overwhelming, but he did not have such a problem there.
Keyboard, touchpad, and stylus
According to LaptopMag the keyboard is punchy with a deep travel of 1.5 mm. But it requires just 50 grams of force to press, which occasionally resulted in the bottoming out, but didn’t really affect the performance. PasteMagazine left a remark that with 1.5 mm of key travel when compared to 1.3 mm on the smaller 13-inch Spectre, the Spectre x360 15-inch matches the Surface Book’s keyboard, and this is easily one of the most comfortable keyboards that the writer has used on a consumer notebook. Besides, “The Spectre x360 15’s keyboard is likely my favorite keyboard on any laptop. It’s outstanding. There’s no flex on the body when typing on a desk, and it is just a satisfying experience”, WindowsCentral evaluated. “The keys are a hair smaller than those on my MacBook Air, but they’re neither too small nor too big, and they allow me to type at normal pace”, ArsTechnica remarked. Sharing about the keyboard experience, following a remark of page ComputerShopper, by giving the size and thickness of the laptop, the keys feel a tad shallow, though they did note a bit of satisfactory “snap” in the key response as they typed. Nevertheless, as a comment of GizMoDo, the addition of a row of function keys to the right side of the keyboard could make user annoyed: “As a touch typist, I felt myself off by a letter, which was extremely frustrating”. According to PasteMagazine, there are two issues that the reviewer had to complain about the keyboard: Firstly, the backlight is not adjustable; secondly, HP added a column of navigation keys to the right edge of the keyboard. So touch typists will likely need some time to adjust to the extra keys, as it makes the keyboard shift over to the left slightly.
On the contrary, “The touchpad on the Spectre is just what I expect from a premium product. It’s spacious, responsive and clicky”, LaptopMag evaluated. With the same opinion from PasteMagazine, the Synaptics trackpad that HP employed on the Spectre is spacious: “Like Apple, HP decided to outfit its notebook with a larger trackpad, the Spectre’s laptop is bigger in width and not in height”. Page WindowsCentral stated that it was a very smooth, satisfying trackpad with adequate clicking that wouldn’t annoy us each time we use it in a quiet room. The Spectre x360 15’s trackpad is super wide, measuring 5.5 x 2.74 inches. As ArsTechnica remarked, regardless of its glass surface enabling our finger to move smoothly across its surface area, it’s not a Microsoft Precision Touchpad, which means it won’t automatically support new Windows 10 trackpad gestures as they’re added in future release. “Although it’s wide and full, the touchpad’s proximity to the keyboard is a tight squeeze, making for some obtrusive typing sessions” (TechRadar’s quote). For the pen support, the HP Spectre x360 15 got a positive review from LaptopMag: “The stylus supports 2048 degrees of pressure sensitivity, and I was easily able to change the width of my pen strokes in Microsoft Ink’s Sketchpad. It is slightly thicker than the average pen and is comfortable to hold”. In the same argument with LaptopMag, PasteMagazine thought that HP’s pen offered a very responsive experience: “If you prefer to take handwritten notes, like to sketch or draw or like using a digital canvas for your creative work, the Spectre x360 is a compelling and even more affordable alternative to Microsoft’s Surface Book”.
PasteMagazine writes about the sound of HP Spectre x360 15, “The Bang & Olufsen-tuned speakers delivered clear audio with minimal distortion even at high volumes. Mids and highs sound good, but I wish Bang & Olufsen did more work to give bass and lows a punchier response without sounding over-engineered”. Similarly, LaptopMag gave the same point of view that HP’s partnership with Bang’s Olufsen continued to bear fruit with the Spectre x360: “The sound was mostly balanced, and the lead and backing vocals and cymbals were clear”. In general, the Spectre 15’s speakers are nice though it is considered to be “very crispy”. WindowsCentral states, “While they can get thunderous, I do wish there were some more bass and richness to the audio to make it perfect”.
With a 2.9 GHz 7th generation Intel Core i7-7500U CPU, 16 GB of RAM, a 512 GB SSD and an NVIDIA GeForce 940MX GPU, LaptopMag’s review configuration of the Spectre x360 is primed for getting work done. The reviewer opened 30 tabs in Chrome, and one of which was streaming a 1080p episode of Last Week Tonight without a hint of lag. The PasteMagazine also showed a plus point for this laptop’s performance: “In my use, the Spectre whizzed through most of my computing workflow with aplomb, and the notebook is capable at handling most tasks I threw its way”. Also, for LaptopMag, the HP Spectre x360 15 is able to do several very light gaming: “Using its integrated Intel HD Graphics 620, the Spectre ran Dirt 3 at 29 fps, below our 30 fps playability threshold. The Nvidia GeForce 940MX isn’t primed for intensive games, though”. The reviewer of page ArsTechnica expected to see one of Nvidia’s newer 1000-series GPUs in the Spectre x360 15 instead of the Nvidia GeForce 940MX: “The older GeForce 940MX only offers a slight improvement over Intel’s integrated GPUs, and it’s not the best companion for a high resolution 4K display”. In the same viewpoint with other pages, TechRadar said that although that was only taking into consideration GPU performance, the CPU in the HP Spectre x360 15 managed about the same performance as the 13-inch model, which made total sense considering they used the same processor.
Heat and noise
As a comment from LaptopMag, the Spectre felt the heat when they put the notebook through its pace: “After the machine streamed 15 minutes of HD video from YouTube, the touchpad measured 91 Fahrenheit degrees, the center of the keyboard reached 97 degrees and the bottom of the laptop hit toasty 106 degrees”. Testing the emission of the HP Spectre x360 15 under regular use (web browser or watching videos) on page WindowsCentral, the laptop’s hottest spot was around 81 Fahrenheit degrees. This page gave a short conclusion about the heat issues: “Overall, this is well-cooled machine, and it is comfortable to use in most scenarios, even under heavy load”.
According to WindowsCentral, HP put a large, 79 Wh battery in the new Spectre x360 15 so that with a 4K panel it can still match the battery life of last year’s Full HD version. The reviewer of this page also shared his experience that the laptop lasted at least six hours but often pushed eight. Despite its 4K screen, the Spectre x360 has surprising endurance thanks to a large battery. The notebook ran for 8 hours and 36 minutes on the LaptopMag battery test, which involves continuous web browsing over Wi-Fi. “On average, the Spectre x360 15 lasted 645 minutes, or just shy of 11 hours, on our default Wi-Fi test. On our graphics-intensive battery test, it lasted 279 minutes or just 4.5 hours. While those numbers are decent, they are less than what HP expected” ArsTechnica said.
Generally, “There’s so much to like about the 15-inch HP Spectre x360, including its vivid 4K display, long battery life, and quality speakers, which are some of the best you can find on a laptop. The warm temperatures and modest Nvidia GTX 940MX graphics are relative small drawbacks” LaptopMag summarized. With the newest version of the Spectre x360, it is apparently seen that HP has made an exceptional convertible laptop although it still has some unexpected flaws, such as: some thermal issues when running, or using the old generation GPU. However, it is undeniable that the Spectre x360 15 is still the best choice for user who like the 2-in-1 notebook. It delivers many appealing advantages including the vivid 4K display, good battery life, the premium design, great speakers, flawless keyboard, and even the stylus. TechRadar concluded: “The HP Spectre x360 15 boasts premium specs as well as a lavish design and extensive functionality that’s tough to beat. While it could use some work when it comes to battery longevity and trackpad placement, this laptop is a fine choice for media creators and consumers alike”.
NVIDIA GeForce 940MX: Mid-range laptop graphics card based on the Maxwell architecture. Compared to the older 940M, the MX now also supports GDDR5 graphics memory and maybe slightly faster clock speeds.
Modern games should be playable with these graphics cards at low settings and resolutions. Casual gamers may be happy with these cards.
i7-7500U: Kaby-Lake based SoC with two CPU cores clocked at 2.7 to 3.5 GHz, HyperThreading and manufactured with an improved 14nm process.» Further information can be found in our Comparison of Mobile Processsors.
15-16 inch is a standard display size for laptops and offers the biggest variety of products.» To find out how fine a display is, see our DPI List.
This weight is typical for very old and big tablets, subnotebooks, ultrabooks and convertibles with a 11-13 inch display-diagonal; nowadays, rather typical for 15 inch laptops.
HP: The Hewlett-Packard Company, founded 1935, commonly referred to as HP, is a technology corporation headquartered in California, United States. HP specializes in developing and manufacturing computing, storage, and networking hardware, software and services. Major product lines include personal computing devices, enterprise servers, related storage devices, as well as a diverse range of printers and other imaging products. Other product lines, including electronic test equipment and systems, medical electronic equipment, solid state components and instrumentation for chemical analysis. HP posted US $91.7 billion in annual revenue in 2006, making it the world's largest technology vendor in terms of sales. In 2007 the revenue was $104 billion, making HP the first IT company in history to report revenues exceeding $100 billion.
Up to 2015, the company was named Hewlett Packard Company. After a split, the computer range was renamed to HP Inc.
In the laptop segment, HP was the world's largest manufacturer from 2014 to 2016 with a market share of 20-21% from 2014 to 2016, but they only exceed Lenovo by a small margin as of recently. HP is not present in the smartphone sector (as of 2016).
» Further information can be found in our Notebook Purchase Guide.