HP Spectre x360 First Impressions Review

CE3

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I picked up this model the other day and thought I'd share my initial thoughts.

Design & Ergonomics 9/10


Slim, sharp, sleek. Looks and feels very premium. You basically get a 15” laptop in a 13" body. I’ve always thought HP makes some of the best-looking Windows devices, and the Spectre x360 is one of their most attractive designs yet. I don’t know how much I’ll use tablet mode, or the touchscreen, or the included pen, but I won’t complain about having these extra features either.

The trackpad works well and has excellent palm rejection (I primarily use a Bluetooth mouse, though). The keyboard has plenty of key travel and feels great to type on. I’m happy to have a number pad back again.

The speakers aren’t bad, but they’re nothing to brag about either.

You get a nice variety of ports, but only one for each. As a photographer, I wish there was a standard SD card slot instead of Micro SD. I might use the MicroSD slot for additional storage, and I’m going to go ahead and pick up a USB-C hub for more ports and a full SD slot.

The fingerprint sensor is a little finicky. I find a quick light tap seems to work well, and I added the same finger a few times for improved accuracy. There’s also a physical camera on/off switch for privacy. Nice touch! Now if only Microsoft would care a little more about user privacy, too.

Display 10/10

I do a lot of high-resolution visual work (so I’m picky) and to my eyes this 4K display is close to perfect. The color accuracy is as good as my 5K iMac & iPad Pro, and it doesn’t strain my eyes like my iMac does over long periods of time.

Scaling works well and text is sharp and easy to read even when it's tiny and my head about is about 3 feet away while sitting at my desk.

It’s not the brightest screen, but more than bright enough for me. I’m keeping it between 60-100% brightness.

Overall, I’m very impressed and surprised by how much I love this display.

Performance 8/10 (so far)

The low power Whiskey Lake CPU & MX150 GPU give this laptop a healthy balance of performance and battery life.

Battery life is very good and charge times are quick.

As for software performance, this morning I was able to process several large 42MP RAW files with Adobe Bridge, Camera RAW, Photoshop CC, and run Skylum Luminar as a Photoshop plugin without any issues. A few things weren’t quite as snappy as I’ve gotten used to on my iMac, but again, we’re balancing performance and low power consumption here. I worked for around 2 hours in these programs and only used 35% of my battery. That’s impressive.

And if you need a performance boost down the road and feel comfortable with opening the laptop, upgrade options are possible with this model. The RAM can be upgraded from 16 to 32GB (I’m doing it), the SSD is replaceable, and an external desktop GPU can be added via thunderbolt 3 for improved graphics performance.

OS Bloat

I almost forgot how much crap you need to disable and uninstall in Windows. This takes time and tinkering, and Microsoft continues to make disabling certain services and features increasingly more difficult. But a search engine and some helpful people on the internet usually make modifications quick and straightforward and get Windows back to running lean and mean the way I like it.

Conclusion:

I've been using MacOS and iOS exclusively for the past few years, and so far the Spectre x360 has offered a pleasant welcome back to Windows.

A comparable MacBook Pro configuration would have been at least $1000 to 1500+ more, especially after I upgrade the RAM to 32GB. That’s ridiculous.

I’ll continue to enjoy the Apple devices I currently own, but it feels good to loosen my dependency on their ecosystem and diversify my setup with this beautiful laptop.
 
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kazmac

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Thanks for sharing your experience, I almost kept that exact Spectre 360 15.6, but the HP support forum spooked me.

I’ll keep an eye out though, as a new model is due in March.

Glad it’s been largely painless for you. Please continue to share if time permits.
 
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maflynn

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I almost forgot how much crap you need to disable and uninstall in Windows.
I found with HP, you get a lot of crapware, and a reinstall is all but required. Other makers are pretty good about it, but for some reason HP is one of the worst, at least when I purchased HPs (and the old compaq name brand).
 
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Jetcat3

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That display looks gorgeous. It will be interesting to see who else rolls out the AMOLED down the road.
Sure does! Looks like Dell with their XPS 15, M15 Alienware, and the G5 15 and G7 15” will all incorporate this panel. 15.6” 4K AMOLED made by Samsung. Lenovo seems to be using the same panel as well.
 
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UnLiMiTeD558

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Sure does! Looks like Dell with their XPS 15, M15 Alienware, and the G5 15 and G7 15” will all incorporate this panel. 15.6” 4K AMOLED made by Samsung. Lenovo seems to be using the same panel as well.
Where did you find info about the xps 15 getting this? Been waiting to see any details come out about this next gen beast. Only the xps 13 surfaced so far this year with the update

edit:
Nvm, see the info came out yesterday, though not sure if that’s a full update or just a new screen option
 
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Jetcat3

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Where did you find info about the xps 15 getting this? Been waiting to see any details come out about this next gen beast. Only the xps 13 surfaced so far this year with the update

edit:
Nvm, see the info came out yesterday, though not sure if that’s a full update or just a new screen option
Looks to be similar internals for the XPS 15” with the addition of the AMOLED panel.
 

maflynn

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I'm not sure about having an AMOLED panel for a laptop, but I suppose that's the next coming thing.
 

CE3

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After a couple days with the unit, I decided it was a bit underpowered for my setup and returned it to Best Buy.

Working with Luminar as a plugin within Photoshop is regular part of my workflow, and opening and closing the app would sometimes take 20-30 seconds each way. That time adds up when I’m using the plugin multiple times in a project to make minor adjustments.

The good news is doing actual edits in both apps, as well as working with Camera RAW and Bridge, was smooth, and I was editing 42MP RAW images the whole time. Luminar on its own is rather big app, touted as a replacement for Photoshop and Lightroom, so I’m not surprised by the opening & exporting times. It’s lightning fast on my iMac, though.

I also might do some work in Ableton Live with Native Instruments plug-ins (and other CPU hogs), and I don’t think this 8565U is best suited for those tasks, either.

There was a lot I really liked about this laptop, though, and I found a configuration on HP.com with the i7-8750H and 1050Ti Max-Q that I’m going to order for only $400 more. No RAM upgrades are possible on this one, but 16GB should be fine.

Here are a few benchmarks I ran on the first model (didn’t test the MX150)

https://www.userbenchmark.com/UserRun/13683483

https://www.userbenchmark.com/UserRun/13684766

https://browser.geekbench.com/v4/cpu/11590849


I’ll update you guys when I get the new one :)
 
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jamesrick80

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Definitely looking to maybe purchase the OLED model since it has a Samsung display of the HP but will have to compare it to the Dell XPS before making a good purchase decision............since both will have the same display but different internals.
 
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CE3

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Definitely looking to maybe purchase the OLED model since it has a Samsung display of the HP but will have to compare it to the Dell XPS before making a good purchase decision............since both will have the same display but different internals.
Has the OLED model been released?