- Stylish Aesthetic
- Quality Keyboard Dock
- Solid Battery Life
- Bulky Design
- Tablet Wobbles in Dock
- Awkward Button Placement
Quick TakeThe HP Spectre 13 X2 is an attractive convertible with acceptable performance, but the awkward button placement and bulky form factor make it difficult to justify the cost.
HP makes its play for the popular convertible market with the 2-in-1 HP Spectre 13 X2. Equipped with an Intel Core i5 processor, Integrated HD Graphics and a 128GB SSD the hybrid laptop packs ultrabook-like performance levels in a tablet form factor. With a stylish design and a high-quality keyboard dock the Spectre certainly has its highpoints, but is that enough to justify the laptop’s steep ($1,100 staring price) price point?
Read the full review to find out.
Build and Design
The HP Spectre 13 X2’s design may have a few awkward aspects, but its high-end build materials and stylish curves provide an alluring aesthetic. Both the display cover and the bottom of the chassis feature a dark gray aluminum finish that provides a playful sheen when the light is cast off of its protective surface. A similarly gray colored plastic band lies across the top edge of the display case, which is accompanied by a chrome HP logo located on the lid’s center. Contrasting beautifully off of the dark gray cover is a thin silver band that outlines the face of the display lid. While the keyboard deck features a matching silver aluminum finish.
Considering that the Spectre 13 X2 is a 2-in-1, all of the its vital buttons are located on the tablet portion of the device. The volume controls can be found along the top left-hand corner of the display lid, while the power button rests on the corresponding right-hand side. The button placement is a bit strange, and it’s possible to accidently press the power button while adjusting the display. It would have been nice to see these buttons relegated to either side of the Spectre’s chassis, unfortunately that’s not possible given the device’s curved design.
Transitioning between tablet and laptop modes proves easy thanks to the Spectre’s magnetic display hinge. Resting just north of the keyboard, the display hinge comfortably locks the tablet in place, providing a nice audible pop when doing so. The tablet can just as easily be disengaged from the dock by quickly sliding the lock button to left. While the hinge securely locks the display in place, the top heavy nature of the Spectre does cause the tablet to wobble back and forth when being used as a laptop.
Extending off the display hinge is the keyboard dock’s battery reserve. Sitting below the display hinge, the battery also serves to lift the keyboard when the display is opened, providing an ergonomic typing angle.
Measuring in at 13.4” x 7.2” x 0.7” and weighing in at 4.4 pounds the HP Spectre 13 X2 is heavier than most of its competitors. Both the 0.7” Dell XPS 13 (3.03 pounds) and 0.61” Lenovo Idea Pad Yoga 2 Pro (3.06 pounds) are more than a full pound lighter than HP Spectre 13 X2. In tablet mode the Spectre is a bit more manageable weighing in at 2.2 pounds, but that’s still far heavier than most tablets. However, much like the 0.53” Microsoft Surface Pro 2 (2 pounds), the extra weight is expected due to the Spectre offering performance levels more in line with a laptop than a tablet.
With its curved design the tablet portion of the HP Spectre X2 only offers a few ports located on the bottom edge of the device. The tablet features its proprietary keyboard dock connector, a power connector, an audio jack and a microSD card reader. The keyboard dock helps to boost the device’s overall connectivity featuring a USB 3.0 port and an HDMI connector on the left side of the chassis, while the right side of the device houses a second USB 3.0 port, an audio jack and a power connector.
Display and Sound
The Spectre’s 13.3-inch FHD (1920 x 1080) touch-display offers responsive touch controls and rich detailed color contrast, but the screen’s limited brightness does mar the overall viewing experience. While watching a cinematic gameplay trailer for The Elder Scrolls Online NBR was pleased by the vibrant hues of the red blood war paint and silver etched chest guards. However, the device also failed to detail the darker backdrops, such as when a black and grey plume of smoke enveloped the battlefield.
Despite the device’s limited brightness, the Spectre affords relatively flexible viewing angles. The laptop hybrid can easily host multiple viewers with images holding up well past 100 degrees, without exhibiting any color loss. Direct and heavy lighting conditions will still cause reflections, but the display holds up perfectly fine in normal lighting conditions from a straight-on angle.
The front-facing speakers located on the device’s tablet prove boisterous enough to provide audio to a small room comfortably. However, in terms of quality the speakers leave a bit to be desired. Listening to an orchestral track, NBR found that the speakers produced consistent distortion as the device struggled to detail the nuances of the track. For basic use (such as presentations or viewing media) the built-in speakers should suffice, but for audio intensive tasks users should turn to external speakers or headphones.
Keyboard and Touchpad
The HP Spectre 13 X2 features a spacious Chiclet style keyboard. The four keys located along the keyboard’s corners (ESC, CTRL, Delete and End) offer rounded edges matching the curved design of the Spectre’s tablet. Key travel is limited, but the device more than makes up for that with responsive tactile feedback. With keys quickly snapping back into place after being struck, users can type quickly with the assurance that each key compression has registered.
Located to the bottom right of the keyboard the Spectre houses a moderately sized touchpad. Equipped with Synaptic drivers the pad is devoid of mouse buttons instead designating the bottom portions of the pad (along with multi-finger gestures) to act as mouse clicks. The touchpad performed admirably during our tests quickly responding to swipes, clicks, two-finger scrolls and various multi-finger gestures without delay.