- 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
- 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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
|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|
|Installed Size||4 MB|
|Memory Speed||1600 MHz|
|Configuration Features||provided memory is soldered|
|Installed Size||8 GB|
|LCD Backlight Technology||LED backlight|
|Resolution||1920 x 1080 (Full HD)|
|Monitor Features||Full HD Radiance Infinity, arsenic-free glass|
|Diagonal Size (metric)||33.8 cm|
|Display Resolution Abbreviation||Full HD|
|Audio & Video|
|Graphics Processor||Intel HD Graphics 5500|
|Sound||Stereo speakers, two microphones|
|Localization & Layout||US|
|Wireless Protocol||802.11b/g/n/ac, Bluetooth|
|CPU Type||Core i7|
|Clock Speed||2.4 GHz|
|Drive Type||no optical drive|
|Run Time (Up To)||12 sec|
|Supported Flash Memory||SD Memory Card|
|Connections & Expansion|
3 x USB 3.0
Headphone/microphone combo jack
|Memory Card Reader||Yes (SD Card)|
|Product Line||HP Spectre x360|
|Country Kits||United States|
|Data Link Protocol||Bluetooth, IEEE 802.11ac, IEEE 802.11b, IEEE 802.11g, IEEE 802.11n|
|Diagonal Size||13.3 in|
|Compliant Standards||low halogen|
|Included Accessories||power adapter|
|Mechanical Design||360° flip design|
|Hard Drive Capacity||256 GB|
|Dimensions & Weight|
|Type||1 year warranty|
|Compliant Standards||High Definition Audio|
|ENERGY STAR Certified||Yes|
|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|
|Graphics Processor||Intel HD Graphics 5500|
|Graphics Processor Series||Intel HD Graphics|
|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|