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HP Spectre x360: Multi-mode, long lasting, responsive laptop built to impress

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  • Editors' rating
    8.8 Outstanding
  • $1,148.94

Pros

  • Rock solid unibody aluminum construction
  • Long battery life
  • Several ports for connectivity
  • Versatile hinge for multi-mode usage
  • Wide touchpad
  • Well-designed full size keyboard
  • Long range WiFi performance

Cons

  • Bit on the heavy side

For many years it was easy for me to recommend that family and friends pick up one of the Apple MacBook models for the best portable computing experience.

Thankfully, Windows computer vendors, including Microsoft, stepped up to the plate and there are now several Windows machines that are well-designed, reasonably priced, great performers, with features that best Apple machines. One of the best new models today that I have had the pleasure of testing out for the past few weeks is the HP Spectre x360.

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I spoke with Mike Nash from HP to find out more about HP's design philosophy and strategy of working with Microsoft to create on optimized Windows machine. Mike stated that HP's customers want long battery life, a great laptop with the keyboard and screen combined, and a computer with a weight less than four pounds.

Check out the CNET full review where the HP Spectre x360 earned an 8.3/10 rating.

Specifications

Key specifications of the HP Spectre x360 13-4003dx include:

  • Processor: Intel Core i7-5500U with Intel HD graphics 5500
  • Display: 13.3 inch 1920x1080 touchscreen display
  • RAM & storage: 8GB DDR3-1600 and 256GB SSD
  • Ports: 3 USB 3.0, mini display, HDMI, headphone/mic combo
  • Dimensions: 12.79 x 8.6 x 0.63 inches and 3.26 pounds

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There are four models of the Spectre x360 with variations in the processor (i5 or i7), display resolution, RAM (4 or 8 GB), SSD hard drive (128 to 512 GB), and weight (3.17 or 3.26 pounds). Prices range from just $899.99 to $1,399.99. The model I tested is priced at $1,149.99.

Hardware

The first thing I thought of when I opened up the HP Spectre x360 was that I was looking at either a Chromebook Pixel or MacBook Pro. The laptop is all brushed silver in color thanks to its CNC cut aluminum unibody design. It looks absolutely fantastic and I thought for sure it was going to be priced at more than $1,500.

The keyboard has ample spacing and provides you with a full size experience. The keys have 1.5mm travel and are quiet as you manipulate them. The keyboard is backlit as well, which is something I personally require as I work in low light conditions at night and on the train.

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The HP Spectre x360 has an extra wide touchpad that employs palm rejection technology while supporting multi-finger gestures and corner controls, such as a right click. It performed flawlessly during my time with the laptop.

The highest end model, the 13-4005dx, has a quad HD display while the other three models have a full HD display. The full HD model I am testing, 1920x1080 pixels resolution on 13.3 inches, is crisp and clear. The touchscreen is useful in tablet mode, but with the functional large touchpad I rarely used it in laptop mode.

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You can use the machine in four modes: traditional notebook mode, tablet mode, tent mode, and stand mode. In tablet mode, the keyboard is facing away from you, there is no rotation around the x-axis. I used tent mode to watch movies, but HP advertises it as a way to play games and use apps. Stand mode is convenient for watching movies if you want the keyboard out of the way. I personally don't find the tent or stand modes critical though.

These different modes center around the cool two hinges that are fit into the spine of the notebook. They move to lay flat when in tablet mode and look cool from the back.

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HP advertises that the 56 Wh Li-ion 3-cell battery provides up to 12 hours of battery life. I never conducted extensive testing, but used the laptop regularly without worrying much about plugging it in. Gone are the days of traveling with a laptop where you are tethered to a wall all the time.

The 801.11 ac (2x2) WiFi antenna is located at the top of the display to help maintain fast performance at long distances. I have a fairly good sized house and was amazed at how strong the WiFi signal was in every remote room.

Software

The HP Spectre x360 comes with Windows 8.1 and is sure to get the Windows 10 update this summer. Everything you are used to on Windows 8.1 is present on the HP Spectre x360 and because readers are likely familiar with Windows 8 I won't go into those details here.

HP does include a few apps, including HP Connected Drive, HP Connected Music, and HP Connected Photo. HP Connected Drive is a free application and service that lets you connect your devices and online storage services into a single user interface. You can upgrade the service for $7.99 per month to increase file size, number of files, and accessibility.

HP Connected Music is only supported on desktop or notebook computers, but HP states it plans to add mobile syncing in the future. There are no fees to use the service, but connected subscription services may have fees. HP Connected Photo is a way to access photos from various photo storage services. There is an Android app, but nothing available for iOS or Windows Phone.

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Conclusions

It's refreshing to be using Windows laptops where you can open up the lid and get to work in seconds. I spent a lot of time over the years waiting for my computer to boot up and still experience poor standby mode on my engineering notebook computer. I confirmed the following response times:

  • Shutdown: 4.2 seconds
  • Boot time: 7 seconds
  • Suspend: 1.4 seconds
  • Resume: 3.2 seconds

3.2 pounds is less than the four pounds HP stated customers were asking for, but it's still heavier than some other 13 inch laptops. I am personally willing to sacrifice some weight for a powerful, high quality computer with a full size keyboard like the Chomebook Pixel. But my Surface Pro 3 is less than two pounds, which is one major reason I carry it with me on my commute and when I travel on planes.

I love my Surface Pro 3 and find using it in tablet mode to be a better experience than the HP Spectre x360. 13.3 inches is large for a tablet and the stylus support on the Surface Pro 3 makes it a more competitive tablet.

If I was looking for a Windows notebook, then I would definitely consider an HP Spectre x360. HP worked closely with Microsoft to develop and design a high quality machine that meets the desires of customers at a reasonable price.

Specifications

General
Packaged Quantity 1
Processor / Chipset
CPU Intel Core i7 (5th Gen) 5500U / 2.4 GHz
Max Turbo Speed 3 GHz
Number of Cores Dual-Core
Cache L3 - 4 MB
64-bit Computing Yes
Cache Memory
Type L3 cache
Installed Size 4 MB
RAM
Memory Speed 1600 MHz
Configuration Features provided memory is soldered
Technology LPDDR3 SDRAM
Installed Size 8 GB
Storage
Interface Type SATA
Memory
Technology LPDDR3 SDRAM
Speed 1600 MHz
Display
LCD Backlight Technology LED backlight
Resolution 1920 x 1080 (Full HD)
Widescreen Display Yes
Monitor Features Full HD Radiance Infinity, arsenic-free glass
Type LED
Touchscreen yes
Diagonal Size (metric) 33.8 cm
Display Resolution Abbreviation Full HD
Audio & Video
Graphics Processor Intel HD Graphics 5500
Integrated Webcam Yes
Sound Stereo speakers, two microphones
Hard Drive
Type SSD
Capacity 256 GB
Input
Type imagepad, keyboard
Localization & Layout US
Features multi-touch touchpad
Communications
Wireless Protocol 802.11b/g/n/ac, Bluetooth
Processor
CPU Type Core i7
Processor Number i7-5500U
Generation 5
Manufacturer Intel
Clock Speed 2.4 GHz
Optical Storage
Drive Type no optical drive
Type none
Battery
Capacity 56 Wh
Cells 3-cell
Technology lithium polymer
Run Time (Up To) 12 sec
Card Reader
Type card reader
Supported Flash Memory SD Memory Card
AC Adapter
Output 45 Watt
Connections & Expansion
Interfaces 3 x USB 3.0
Mini DisplayPort
HDMI
Headphone/microphone combo jack
Memory Card Reader Yes (SD Card)
Header
Brand HP
Product Line HP Spectre x360
Model 13-4003dx
Localization English
Country Kits United States
Packaged Quantity 1
Compatibility PC
Networking
Data Link Protocol Bluetooth, IEEE 802.11ac, IEEE 802.11b, IEEE 802.11g, IEEE 802.11n
Monitor
Diagonal Size 13.3 in
Miscellaneous
Color natural silver
Compliant Standards low halogen
Included Accessories power adapter
System
Notebook Type 2-in-1
Mechanical Design 360° flip design
Platform Windows
Hard Drive Capacity 256 GB
Dimensions & Weight
Width 12.8 in
Depth 8.6 in
Height 0.6 in
Manufacturer Warranty
Type 1 year warranty
Audio Output
Compliant Standards High Definition Audio
Environmental Standards
ENERGY STAR Certified Yes
Physical Characteristics
Weight 3.26 lbs
Operating System / Software
OS Provided: Type Windows 8.1 64-bit Edition
Type CyberLink Power Media Player, Cyberlink PowerDVD, Nuance Dragon Assistant, Skype, HP Connected Drive, HP Connected Music, HP Connected Photo, HP Recovery Manager, HP Support Assistant, HP ePrint, McAfee LiveSafe (30 days trial), Netflix
Video Output
Graphics Processor Intel HD Graphics 5500
Graphics Processor Series Intel HD Graphics
Notebook Camera
Integrated Webcam Yes
Input Device
Backlight Yes
Service & Support
Type 1 year warranty
Service & Support Details
Type limited warranty, product info support, technical support
Service Included phone consulting, web support
Full Contract Period 1 year, 90 days

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Where To Buy

HP Spectre x360 13.3-inch (Core i7)

Part Number: 134003dx