Review: HP Spectre x360 is the business laptop with a twist

My review of the new HP Spectre x360 laptop. This is one versatile business notebook for any user.

hp spectre x360 notebook mode

Every laptop should have a twist like this.

After using an HP Spectre x360 for about six weeks now, I can tell you this is a rock-solid business laptop. I won’t bore you with the full specs, since they are just a click away and (really) most laptops use a similar set of components these days under the hood.

That said, it’s a Windows 8.1 laptop that lasts up to 12.5 hours per charge and has a fast Intel Core processor meant for serious work. I tested the high-end model with a 2560x1440 pixel 13-inch screen, 8GB of RAM, a Core i7 CPU, and a 512GB solid state drive (SSD) for $1400. A model with 4GB, a Core i5, and a 128GB SSD costs $900.

The real selling point here is what you can do with the 13-inch display. It flips all the way back around to work like a Windows tablet, which made me question why I’d want to bring along my iPad Mini on business trips. (In fact, when I did go on a trip, I didn’t miss the iPad.) You can use apps like Skype or Evernote that support finger taps and swipes, and the x360 is light enough to actually work in your lap during meetings or on the sofa at home.

The display also works fine in “tent” mode where you prop one up on a table. I used one to play an entire movie at my desk in the background while I did some invoicing on a second computer. It’s handy because, in tent mode, you can also pause the screen with a finger tap or even swipe to the next app (in my case, a Chrome browser running a news site). You can also turn the screen so it is facing you and the keyboard is pointing down to watch movies or flip through apps (just in case tent mode seems tipsy).

The Spectre x360 has a rugged feel. I’ve tested hundreds of laptops over the past 15 years working as a tech journalist, and some of them use a cheaper plastic that could easily scratch or dent even during regular work sessions (not to mention dropping one at an airport--been there, done that). The slightly raised and curved keys felt springy but not overly bouncy like some Lenovo business laptops.

I’m impressed with the build quality of the hinges as well, which seem like they could take some abuse rotating the screen every time you pull the laptop out of your backpack. I’m someone who doesn’t take too many precautions with laptops and treat them like they are a commodity item, something I will probably replace within a year or two. The x360 looks like it could outlast most of my previous laptops, even a Macbook I’ve had for eons.

One other quick note about the x360. HP wanted to make sure you could connect even in a place where there are competing Wi-Fi signals. The antenna is actually located above the screen, so that lid does double-duty in making sure you can get online. I had no trouble getting connected at an airport, in my home office, and at multiple coffee shops.

The laptop is 3.26 pounds, so it’s light enough for everyday use. I’m not a big gamer anymore, but the Core i7 processor was fast enough for HD movies on Google Play, using Google Earth several times, and even playing a few first-person shooters. One perk: You can stream the display wirelessly if you have an Intel Wi-Di receiver in your conference room and no cables for connecting up directly to a monitor.

Overall, the HP Spectre x360 is one of the best (and most versatile) laptops I’ve used, one I recommend as a primary business machine for just about anyone.

Copyright © 2015 IDG Communications, Inc.

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