Laptop Mag 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.
Comfortable, spacious touchpad
Long battery life
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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.
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.
The 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.
I 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.
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.
The 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.
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.
The 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.
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.
On 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.
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.
The 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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
HP Spectre x360 15t (2016) Specs
|CPU||Intel Core i5-6200U @ 2.3 GHz|
|Card Slots||SD memory reader|
|Graphics Card||Intel HD Graphics 520|
|Hard Drive Size||256GB|
|Hard Drive Type||SSD|
|Operating System||Windows 10 Home|
|Ports (excluding USB)||USB 3.0, Mini DisplayPort, Headphone/Mic, HDMI, USB Type-C|
|RAM Upgradable to||16GB|
|Size||14.8 x 9.75 x 0.63 inches|
|Touchpad Size||5.5 x 2.6|
|Warranty/Support||1-year limited hardware warranty with toll-free support|