If nothing else, users will want to look at the new HP Spectre x360 PCs, which the company debuted at CES 2016. That’s because the Windows 10 hybrid PCs have stunning displays; each featuring one of the two best specs on the market: 4K and OLED.
And for HP, that’s alright. It wants users to gawk at the screens, as it’s putting maximum effort this CES into high-end machines built for consuming and working with media. “Screen quality — including resolution, brightness and contrast—are increasingly important to customers creating and viewing rich media content on their personal systems, and PCs are no exception,” said HP VP Mike Nash in a released statement.
“World’s Thinnest and Lightest 15.6-inch Convertible”
While we can’t confirm HP’s claim that the new HP Spectre x360 is the world’s thinnest 15.6-inch 2-in-1, we can confirm it’s a well-built machine, based on some brief hands-one time with the device. Specifically, it measures .63 inches and weighs about 4 pounds, depending on the configuration. Yes, it’s both impossibly thin and improbably light for a machine with specs like these, and still feels solid. Maybe that’s because it sports a tight CNC aluminum chassis, or maybe because it’s packed tight with a 6th-generation Intel Core i7 6500U processor, 16GB of LPDDR3 SDRAM, and 256GB SSD.
Of course the draw is the 15.6-inch 4K display with 3820 x 2160 resolution, resulting in a 281 pixels per inch. That makes the HP Spectre x360 more pixel dense than the iPad Air 2, iPad Pro (both 265 ppi), and Surface Pro 4 (267 ppi).
That’s a lot of pixels, and HP seems intent on enabling users to put them to good use, not only consuming content, but also creating and editing it. HP reps cited the popularity of 4K GoPro and drone footage, which this machine should be able to handle, especially with its optional Intel Iris graphics. In terms of ports, the Spectre x360 comes equipped with three USB 3.0 inputs, USB Type-C, Mini DisplayPort, full-sized HDMI v2.0 with HDCP v2.2, microSD card reader, and a 3.5mm audio jack.
HP is also pushing the speaker quality, with the Spectre’s Bang & Olufsen quad speakers. Given the 360-hinge design and multiple usage modes (laptop, tablet, tent), there is no perfect place for the speakers, outside of the display rim. HP placed them on the bottom panel, toward the front. This could bounce sound off a desk in laptop mode, or direct it at the user in tent mode – both good options. But the sound could be muffled when used as a literal laptop, or in tablet mode. In reviewing recent HP devices, we’ve found the B&O speakers to be fairly impressive (for notebook speakers anyway), and we’re optimistic these will impress as well.
The bad news about 4K is that it’s difficult finding 4K content to consume. Both Netflix and Amazon Prime stream 4K, but only to select 4K HDTVs and media streamers. The Spectre x360 has the technical chops to handle Amazon and Netflix 4K content, and output it to a 4K monitor or HDTV. However, DRM issues on the Netflix and Amazon end ultimately restrict it.
We are also concerned about the x360’s battery life. Pushing out all those pixels with a high-powered Core processor requires a lot of power. This Windows 10 hybrid has a 64.5 Whr battery, “the largest battery HP has included in any of its convertible PCs,” according to the press release. HP promises to deliver up to 9.5 hours of battery life.
For those concerned about the battery and 4K limitations, HP is also offering a Full HD Spectre x360 (1920 x 1080), with a Core i5 6200U processor, and 8GB of RAM, which HP claims will get up to 13.5 hours of battery life.
HP also announced an upcoming 13.3-inch Spectre x360 with a Quad HD OLED display (HP did not offer specifics, but it’s likely 2560 x 1440), optional Intel Iris graphics, and up to a 1TB SSD. Those familiar with OLED know that it’s an attractive display technology that offers very deep blacks and highly saturated colors. It looks great on tablet smartphones, but rarely appears on devices as large as 13.3 inches. Power savings are a strength, as it doesn’t necessitate a traditional LED backlight. Drawbacks include dirty whites, and for some, saturated colors.
It will be interesting to see what sort of software color correction HP brings to this Spectre, as the saturated colors may appear pleasant, but will potentially throw off any video or photo editing.
Price & Availability
The 15.6-inch HP Spectre x360 is set to launch February 14, starting at $1,149. There’s no price or specific release date for the 13.3-inch OLED Spectre x360, though HP claims it is “expected to be available in spring 2016.