Hewlett Packard has built probably the best big-screen consumer Windows laptop this year.
I test lots of laptops so I notice when one arrives on my lap (literally) that is very high quality but not high cost. The 15.6-inch HP Spectre x360 is both.
Sleek, but strong
The Spectre x360 is built from one block of aluminum and could stop a bullet. At least, that’s how it feels. Despite the sturdiness, it’s not too heavy for a 15.6-inch laptop (slightly larger than the more common 15.4-inch size), weighing in at 4.4 pounds.
Easy to look at
HP includes a very high-resolution 15.6-inch 3,840-by-2,160 touch display with a 360-degree hinge. Yes, other computer suppliers offer high-resolution 15-inch displays, but not at this price point with this kind of overall system quality.
For comparison, the newest 15-inch MacBook Pro, announced earlier this month, with a top-notch Retina display is more than twice the price of the Spectre.
The only caveat is that you won’t get the near-perfect “color coverage” (widest range of color gradations) of pricier 15-inch laptops targeted at the high-end professional.
Inside is Intel’s newest 7th Generation Core i7-7500U dual-core processor. While it’s not the quad-core processor on the 15-inch MacBook Pro or Dell XPS 15, I’ve found it more than fast enough for my workaday tasks, including copious amounts of photo editing while maxing out Google Chrome with 20-plus tabs and running various Microsoft Office applications.
HP has also squeezed in an Nvidia GeForce 940MX graphics chip. For the price, that’s a nice extra. While it’s not the fastest of the fast Nvidia graphics processors for gaming, it doesn’t trail the high-end Nvidia GPUs by that much.
The Spectre x360 will last a whole day of on and off computing, or how most people work. That means between eight and ten hours of constant use. Maybe a little more or less, depending how you use the computer and how much you turn up the brightness on the display.
Both the keyboard and large trackpad are excellent. I’ve been typing on the Spectre x360 for the last two weeks and found that it lives up to HP’s usual excellent keyboard standards.
Speakers and ports
The Spectre x360 reat output that includes HP Audio Boost and bass and treble tuning by Bang & Olufsen.
HP includes both a traditional, old-style USB 3.0 port as well as two newer USB Type C connectors, one incorporating the speedy Thunderbolt 3 technology. There is also an HDMI port for connecting external displays and an SD card reader.
The 15.6-inch Spectre x360 starts at $1,179.99. What you get is truly impressive: the Intel Core i7, the Nvidia GeForce 940MX GPU, 8GB of RAM, 256GB solid-state drive (SSD), and the high-resolution 3,840-by-2,160 display. HP also includes a writing stylus.
For a configuration with 16GB RAM and 512GB SSD, it’s $1,399.99.
In the bang-for-the-buck department, the Spectre x360 beats the excellent 15-inch MacBook Pro, which starts at a whopping $2,399 with a 256GB SSD.