HP Spectre x360 15t Review Editor's Choice

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Editors' rating:
The Pros

Attractive design; Comfortable, spacious touchpad; Clear speakers; Long battery life

The Cons

Shallow keyboard; Expensive

Verdict

The HP Spectre x360 15t is an attractive 2-in-1 with a spacious touchpad and strong speakers from Bang & Olufsen, making it worth the premium.

While most 2-in-1s have 13-inch or smaller screens, some like having a larger display that can bend back into presentation, tent or tablet modes. Among 15-inch consumer convertibles, the HP Spectre x360 15t stands out by offering a gorgeous aluminum design, a colorful display (with optional 4K) and long battery life. With a starting price of $1,149, the X360 costs around $400 more than similarly specced competitors like the $800 Dell Inspiron 15 7000 and the $700 Toshiba Satellite 15 P55W. However, the differences in quality and endurance are well worth the premium.

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Design

As on other recent laptops like the Envy 13t, HP's design language on the x360 15t is a simple one: sleek and shiny. With its silver, aluminum body, this 2-in-1 looks a bit like a MacBook, but that's not necessarily a bad thing.

HP Spectre x360 caseThe lid and bottom are made of silver-colored aluminum, with HP's logo in a reflective material adorning the top of the device. A Spectre logo can be found on the hinge, located on the back when the laptop is closed or on top in tent mode. When you open the lid, you'll find the silver, backlit, island-style keyboard flanked on both sides by speakers and a 15.6-inch 1080p touch screen.

The Spectre takes up less desk space than other 2-in-1s at 14.8 x 9.75 x 0.63 inches. The Toshiba Satellite Radius 15 P55W is thicker, while the Dell Inspiron 15 7000 is almost an inch larger. The Spectre x360 15t is also lighter than its rivals at 4.2 pounds, compared with the Inspiron 15 7000's 4.6 pounds and the Satellite Radius' 4.96 pounds.

Keyboard and Touchpad

With 1.4mm of travel, the keyboard on the Spectre x360 15t feels shallow, though the 60g of force required to press the keys gives it a clicky feel. That's better than the Dell Inspiron 15 7000 keyboard's 1.2mm of travel, which bottomed out too quickly and was hard to type on. With the Spectre x360 15t, I achieved 110 words per minute on the 10fastfingers.com typing test, which is about average for me, with an error rate of 1 percent, which is also usual when I type.

HP Spectre x360 keyboardI love the spacious touchpad on the Spectre; at 5.5 by 2.6 inches, the pad provides plenty of room for navigating with your mouse and performing swipe gestures in Windows 10. I had no problem scrolling through Web pages, pinching to zoom and swiping windows into the taskbar.

Display

The 1080p, 15-inch touch screen on the Spectre x360 is bright and produces vivid colors, albeit not always accurately. I watched a trailer for Season 2 of Netflix's Daredevil and made out a majority of the action clearly even though it took place in the dark. The blood that Matt Murdock wrings out of his suit was a vivid red, but Jon Bernthal's Punisher looked sickly because the skin tones were slightly blue. Viewing angles were strong, with clear images up to almost 90 degrees.

The display is fairly luminous at 246 nits, which is brighter than the Inspiron 15's 209 nits but dimmer than the Satellite Radius' 263 nits. All three are lower than the mainstream laptop category average of 282 nits.

HP Spectre x360 displayThe Spectre can reproduce an impressive 118.6 percent of the sRGB color gamut (100 percent is excellent), higher than the Satellite Radius (109.6 percent) and nearly double the Inspiron 15 7000 (62 percent).

Where the display lacks is in its color accuracy. The Spectre x360 15t has a Delta-E score of 4.06 (closer to zero is better), which is much higher than its foes. The Inspiron 15 and Satellite Radius are much more accurate with scores of 0.7 and 0.81.

Audio

The Bang & Olufsen speakers on the Spectre x360 were powerful -- I turned on Ellie Goulding's "On My Mind" and was delighted with the clarity in mids and highs. The bass left a little to be desired, but when I opened the Bang & Olufsen app and dragged up the appropriate slider, I got more percussion out of the speakers.

HP Spectre x360 Audio DisplayThe laptop has speakers on both the top and bottom of its body, which means that, no matter which orientation I used the laptop in, I was able to hear clear sound.

Performance

Our review configuration came stocked with a 2.3-GHz Intel Core i5-6200U CPU, 8GB of RAM and 256GB SSD, all of which should be more than enough for both your work and play. I browsed the Web in Google Chrome while streaming a 1080p video on YouTube and writing in OpenOffice Writer without a problem. I didn't notice any lag until I reached eight tabs open in Chrome, and even then it was minimal.

HP Spectre x360 performance quoteOn Geekbench 3, a synthetic overall performance test, the Spectre x360 notched 6,376, higher than both the Satellite Radius (5,489, with a 2.2-GHz Intel Core i5-5200U CPU) and Dell Inspiron 15 (5,768, with a 2.3-GHz Intel Core i5-6200U).

The 256GB SSD in the Spectre took the crown by a hair among competing 2-in-1s in our file transfer test, copying 4.97GB of mixed media files in 34 seconds -- a rate of 149.7 MBps. The Dell Inspiron 15 reached a rate of 145.4 MBps and the Satellite Radius 15 P55W's HDD was sluggish at 39.15 MBps. 

MORE: The Best Laptops for Business and Productivity

The Spectre x360 15t came out ahead in productivity, too, matching 20,000 names and addresses in our OpenOffice test in 4 minutes and 31 seconds -- just 12 seconds ahead of the Dell Inspiron 15 but more than a minute faster than the Toshiba Satellite Radius (5:42).

Ports and Webcam

The HP Spectre x360 15t's sides are packed with plenty of ports, including the latest version of the USB port, Type-C. The left side of the laptop plays host to the power port, a USB 3.0 port, headphone and mic combination jack and an SD card reader, while the right side is where you will find HDMI and mini DisplayPort for external monitors, two more USB 3.0 ports and a USB Type-C port that transfers data and power to other devices but cannot be used to charge the laptop itself.

HP Spectre x360 WebcamThe 1080p webcam on the Spectre took a fairly grainy photo of me with some color issues -- my skin tone and the color of my sweater were both wrong, and the background was far darker than it appeared in real life.

Battery Life

If you need your large 2-in-1 to last all day, the Spectre X360 15t is a great choice. Outlasting competitors by a wide margin, HP's 2-in-1 lasted a strong 8 hours and 27 minutes on the Laptop Mag Battery Test, which surfs the Internet continuously at a brightness of 100 nits. The Dell Inspiron 15 7000 lasted just 5:33, and the Toshiba Satellite Radius 15 P55W ran out of juice at 5:14. 

MORE: Laptops with the Longest Battery Life

Graphics

You won't play any intensive video games on the Spectre x360 and its integrated Intel HD 520 graphics, but Flash games and time-wasters that you play on Facebook will work just fine. Some games, like Cut the Rope, make decent use of the Spectre's touch screen.

The Spectre achieved a score of 64,632 on the 3DMark graphics benchmark, beating out both the Dell Inspiron at 52,333 and the Toshiba Satellite at 52,333.

Heat

The Spectre X360 15t stayed cool throughout our use. When we streamed 15 minutes of HD video from Hulu, the underside hit 94 degrees Fahrenheit, just under our 95-degree comfort threshold. The touchpad stayed cool at 81 degrees and the spot between the G and H keys on the keyboard reached 88 degrees.

Software and Warranty

The software on the Spectre x360 15t is of varying quality, ranging from useful utility to wasteful bloatware. The aforementioned Bang & Olufsen speaker software is helpful for adjusting the sound to your liking and HP Recovery Manager can help users reinstall driver and applications, reset systems and troubleshoot issues.

On the other hand, iHeartRadio, Candy Crush Soda Saga, Flipboard, Twitter, Snapfish and a 1-month trial of McAfee LiveSafe come preinstalled, which users may not want or need. A 1-month trial of Microsoft Office is also included.

HP offers a 1-year limited warranty on the Spectre x360, and you can add accidental damage protection for $179.99. There are also options for a 2-year warranty with damage protection for $249.99 and a 3-year warranty with damage protection for $329.99.

Configurations

I tested the baseline model of the HP Spectre x360 15t, which costs $1,149.99 and includes a 256GB SSD, 8GB of RAM, a 2.3-GHz Intel Core i5-6200U CPU and a 1920 x 1080 touch screen.

HP Spectre x360 laptop modeHP offers 16GB of memory for an additional $80, and you can upgrade to an Intel Core i7-6500U for an additional $60 or Core i7-6560U with Intel Iris Graphics for an additional $200 (note that the Iris option requires the 16GB upgrade.)

Those who want a 4K display can get one for an extra $60, and you can upgrade the SSD from 256GB to 512GB for $200.

Bottom Line

The Spectre X360 15t is the best consumer 15-inch 2-in-1 we've tested, thanks to its strong combination design, display quality, audio and endurance. For $799, Dell's Inspiron 15 7000 offers similar performance, though you'll take a 3-hour hit in battery life and settle for a screen that's less impressive. For $699.99, Toshiba's Satellite Radius 15 P55W doesn't offer the same strong performance or battery life, but you can still get a nice screen for a lower price.

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CPU Intel Core i5-6200U @ 2.3 GHz
Operating System Windows 10 Home
RAM 8GB
RAM Upgradable to 16GB
Hard Drive Size 256GB
Hard Drive Speed
Hard Drive Type SSD
Secondary Hard Drive Size
Secondary Hard Drive Speed
Secondary Hard Drive Type
Display Size 15.6
Native Resolution 1920x1080
Optical Drive
Optical Drive Speed
Graphics Card Intel HD Graphics 520
Video Memory
Wi-Fi 802.11ac
Wi-Fi Model
Bluetooth
Mobile Broadband
Touchpad Size 5.5 x 2.6
Ports (excluding USB) USB 3.0
Ports (excluding USB) Mini DisplayPort
Ports (excluding USB) Headphone/Mic
Ports (excluding USB) HDMI
Ports (excluding USB) USB Type-C
USB Ports 4
Card Slots SD memory reader
Warranty/Support 1-year limited hardware warranty with toll-free support
Size 14.8 x 9.75 x 0.63 inches
Weight 4.2 pounds
Company Website http://www.hp.com/
Add a comment
3 comments
  • Simon S Says:

    Beware, build quality issues with the Spectre x360 are normal apparently.

    I purchased the 4109na version of this laptop because it has excellent specifications. Unfortunately, it started to emit a strange electrical sputtering sound from the keyboard over the CPU area. The sound was very faint, but noticeable in a quiet room. It's not the fan because it's constant from the start even when the machine is cold. I sent it back to HP twice to fix the issue and they sent it back to me stating it is normal and within specification - in other words, it makes a faint, but constant noise as normal. I wasn't happy because I know that solid state devices (excluding the fan) do not make any noise at all. HP refused to refund the product because I had owned it for 6 weeks longer than the prescribed one month return period. They refused to change any of the components either to see if that might have made a difference and told me there was nothing they could do. This has cost me and them a lot of time, but they won’t budge on their policy.

    I asked HP to confirm if it was normal for HP products to make strange electrical noises as part of their specification, but they refused to comment on this. The (outsourced) repairer however, did confirm that it makes a faint noise and compared it to another machine of the same specification confirming that the noise was the same indicating that this is normal.

    To put into context, imagine if your iPad or MacBook Pro made faint, but constant electrical sputtering noises from the CPU area. You would automatically think that your machine was defective. The Apple build quality is very high and this would never be acceptable. HP are essentially saying this noise is acceptable.

    Nice specifications, nice-looking machine, but beware of the build quality. HP have never really had a great reputation for build quality and I suppose this proves it. I naively thought they might have improved over the years, but I was wrong. Do your research first. I'm now stuck with this machine and HP have dug their heals in by refusing to acknowledge they might have build quality issues. They continue to quote 'it is within specification'.

  • Daniel H Reis Says:

    Good article. But you shouldn't use "1080p" to describe the display's resolution.That terminology is useful for TV's, but confusing and useless for computer monitors. What is the xy resolution of the screen you tested? I am asking, because you report a sRGB coverage of 120%, brightness of 246 nits. The Notebookcheck review has vastly different values for the "1920 x 1080" monitor it tested (83% sRGB, brightness of 290 nits). So you can see, stick to resolution display x y numbers. thank you!

  • J.-----C. Says:

    You did not describe if the screen auto rotates from landscape to portrait when in tablet mode. The 13t in the local store does not. HP Chat Sales Support did not know. I've only found a manual way to select rotation that would have to be done with each rotation!

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