HP Spectre x360 convertible Review: Style and Substance

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When it comes to the world of notebooks, convertibles and hybrids exist in a weird space for me.

They’re designed to be more adaptable compared to regular notebooks thanks to their screens that either rotate or spin to offer up a few different modes and becoming jacks of all trades. Sadly though I’ve rarely found this to be the case, but there’s a new convertible notebook that arrived for review to try to change my mind – the HP Spectre x360.

If you’re familiar with HP’s Spectre range, you know that these notebooks are designed as premium offerings, and often feature interesting or unique design flourishes to help them stand out from the ultrabook crowd.

Eye catching

The x360 is no different and my review model is decked out in accents of gold, has angular corners and has a touchscreen that flips vertically 360 degrees to serve up a tablet, tent, or display mode.

Yes, these can all be written off as gimmicks or distractions, but look past all that to the core elements needed of an ultrabook, and the Spectre x360 ticks all the boxes.

I’ll touch on that later, but let’s tackle some of the initial components of this notebook first.

First the design, with the aforementioned gold accents one of the first things you notice about this notebook. I’ve found that it’s a rather divisive aspect, with some in the office intrigued by it, but a few people outside of it not so keen on the looks. As such you’ll need to be the kind of person who doesn’t mind attention if you want to get the x360.

This specific review model comes in the Poseidon blue colour option, which changes in appearance depending on how the light hits it. As such the exterior of the notebook takes on a life of its own, and is yet another conversation point to its design.

All of these flourishes though are matched by a solid construction, as none of the elements feel weak or frail. HP has therefore been able to create a notebook that has both style and substance, which is often a rare mix when it comes to premium technology.

Understated power 

Another aspect that showcases how well put together the x360 is, is the internal specifications. Here HP hasn’t held back, with my review model being the highest specced option that the company has made available in South Africa.

To that end it’s got an 8th Gen Intel Core i7 (8565U) processor, which clocks at a modest 1.8Ghz, but turbo boosts to 4.6GHz for more processor intensive tasks. Added to this is 16GB of DDR4-SD RAM, with it not short of storage as a 1TB SSD is present.

There’s also an Intel UHD Graphics 620 GPU onboard, which means the Spectre x360 is not a gaming or creator focused device. Yes, the 13.3″ touch-enabled display with 3 840 X 2 160 resolution offers a great palette for creation, but it’s designed more for presentations or enjoying video content.

The focus on this notebook then is on work, with some light entertainment thrown into the mix, and the benchmarking we ran on the x360 backs this up. To that end the UserBenchmark test we ran on the notebook, it scored a 94 percent on the desktop sector, with the processor performance and boot times in particular getting a shout out.

In my experience the Spectre x360 is not wanting in terms of performance, handling multitasking and quick switching between tasks with ease. During my time with it, about three weeks, the x360 never felt underpowered or lacking in any regard, making it well suited for productivity.

Can it tablet?

As a standard notebook then, the Spectre x360 is very good indeed. How does it fare as a tablet though? Here I’m on the fence, but that comes from my past experiences with other convertible notebooks.

Like the previous ones the x360 rotates and enters into its tablet mode with ease, but carrying around a 13.3″ tablet makes little sense, and especially more so when your hand cradling the notebook in tablet mode rubs against the keys of the device. This does not affect anything on-screen, but is less than ideal or comfortable tablet experience.

The x360 also does not come with a stylus, which is a little odd if HP wants users to use it as a tablet, and the fact that this notebook costs R35k (review model). Add to this the smudges that litter the screen once you flip it back to notebook mode, really necessitates a built-in stylus.

Final verdict

The HP Spectre x360 is expensive, starting at R23 000 for the i5 model and topping out at R35 000 for the i7 flavour, is the kind of pricing that would even make an Apple fan blush. You’re getting what you pay for though, with an interesting aesthetic that draws onlooker’s attention, and a powerful performance to match.

When you’re spending that kind of money on a notebook then, it boils down to taste and which design you favour. If you opt for the Spectre x360, you wont have any complaints on the performance side of things, plus you’ll have a unique notebook in hand.

Robin-Leigh Chetty

Robin-Leigh Chetty

When he's not reviewing the latest smartphones, Robin-Leigh is writing about everything tech-related from IoT and smart cities, to 5G and cloud computing. He's also a keen photographer and dabbles in console games.