HP deserves some props for the direction it's taken its consumer desktop and laptop designs over the past year or so. It's turned some relatively functional but cheap-looking products into sleek, engaging models that are as pleasant to look at as they are to use. The first redesign iteration of its general-purpose Spectre x360 15 premium convertible from the 2015 to the 2016 model took a big step in that direction.
For 2017, HP refines it even more, delivering a strikingly designed product that doesn't sacrifice function for form. If a laptop can be both "premium" and "middle of the road," this is it. By the latter, I mean it's configured and priced for reasonably good performance at a sensible-but-not-cheap amount. As a result, the Spectre x360 15 for 2017 delivers a dynamite balance of design, performance and features for the money, as long as you don't want something smaller and lighter.
Our test configuration costs $1,500 and will ship February 26; in the US you can custom configure it on HP's site for as low as $1,280 or as much as $1,770. However, the only important options you can select are the version of Windows 10, the amount of memory (8GB, 12GB or 16GB) and storage (256GB, 512GB or 1TB PCIe SSD).
The closest UK configuration to ours is £1,500, with only 8GB memory, or £1,800 with a 1TB SSD. HP Australia doesn't seem to even offer the larger version yet, only the 13-inch model for between AU$2,300 and AU$3,400. Directly converted, though, the US price range for the 15 translates to roughly AU$1,670-AU$2,300.
HP Spectre X360 15 (2017)
|Price as reviewed||$1,499|
|Display size/resolution||15.6-inch 3,840x2,160 touch display|
|PC CPU||2.7GHz Intel Core i7-7500U|
|PC Memory||16GB DDR4 SDRAM 2,400MHz|
|Graphics||2GB Nvidia GeForce 940MX|
|Networking||802.11ac wireless, Bluetooth 4.2|
|Operating system||Microsoft Windows 10 Home (64-bit)|
HP bundles an N-Trig active stylus with the x360, but it also includes conversion cables for Ethernet and USB-A -- and more -- which are an unexpected convenience. The system has two USB-C connectors (one is Thunderbolt compatible) and an HDMI on the right side and a USB-A 3.1, headphone jack and SD card slot on the right, along with the power switch. That's not a plenitude of ports, but that's the way convertibles roll these days.
4K all the way
Changes for this year include limiting the aluminum chassis to the swankier copper and brown option, dropping the silver, and only offering it with a Core i7 and 4K UHD touchscreen with slimmer side bezels for a narrower profile. It's responsive for both pen and touch, and not exceptionally reflective, with good contrast and saturation that should work for watching video, surfing the web and working. With a color gamut of 72 percent of Adobe RGB (which is very similar to DCI P3, the 4K standard), it probably won't handle future expanded-range 4K, though, like HDR.
To keep the 4K display from killing it, the system has a bigger more powerful battery, which lasted almost 10 hours on our streaming video test -- significantly better than the previous model. But that also makes it a little thicker and heavier -- this model tips the scales at just under 4.5 pounds (2 kg) and feels quite sturdy.