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A big-screen Spectre x360 hybrid from HP (hands-on)

The Spectre x360 gets a 15-inch version, while the original 13-inch model goes OLED.

Dan Ackerman Editorial Director / Computers and Gaming
Dan Ackerman leads CNET's coverage of computers and gaming hardware. A New York native and former radio DJ, he's also a regular TV talking head and the author of "The Tetris Effect" (Hachette/PublicAffairs), a non-fiction gaming and business history book that has earned rave reviews from the New York Times, Fortune, LA Review of Books, and many other publications. "Upends the standard Silicon Valley, Steve Jobs/Mark Zuckerberg technology-creation myth... the story shines." -- The New York Times
Expertise I've been testing and reviewing computer and gaming hardware for over 20 years, covering every console launch since the Dreamcast and every MacBook...ever. Credentials
  • Author of the award-winning, NY Times-reviewed nonfiction book The Tetris Effect; Longtime consumer technology expert for CBS Mornings
Dan Ackerman
3 min read

The 13-inch Spectre x360 from HP was a slick, high-end take on the popular 360-degree folding hybrid, but also very similar to 13-inch systems available from Lenovo, Dell and others. This CES 2016 update to the x360 upsizes it to a 15-inch display, making for a flexible PC that feels more at home on a desk than in a laptop bag.

One could make the case that a larger hybrid laptop is well-suited for a computer that will spend most of its time in an office or on a home office desk. The big screen makes it comfortable for all-day typing, but the ability to flip the display all the way back allows you to set it up in a kiosk mode, with the screen front and center and the keyboard out of the way -- ideal for presenting slideshows or videos. Hook up a wireless keyboard and mouse, and it can even feel like a very portable all-in-one desktop, or just fold the screen all the way down for a large tablet or tabletop experience.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Like other new HP systems, the speakers have been tuned and signed off on by Bang & Olufsen, although note that doesn't mean the famous audio company designed or built them.

More impressive is an optional 4K-resolution display (3,840x2,160 pixels), which is a feature still only available on a handful of premium laptops. HP says the very large 64.5 watt-hour battery inside can drive even the 4K display for 9.5 hours (or a standard 1080p display for 13 hours).

Inside the aluminum chassis, you can choose current-gen Intel Core i5 and Core i7 processors, and also trade up to Intel's higher-end built-in graphics chip, named Iris. At 4 pounds (1.8kg) and 15.9mm thick, HP says this is the thinnest and lightest available 15-inch PC hybrid, although keep in mind that's still a pretty small category.

In our hands-on time with the system, it felt very solid, and the hinge was stiff enough to support the bigger screen no matter the angle we folded it to. It was also great to see USB-C included here. That small, reversible USB variant (as seen in Apple's 12-inch MacBook) will become more convenient and useful as it's adopted more widely.

Sarah Tew/CNET

The 13-inch version of the Spectre x360 is getting an upgrade as well. The system will now offer a QHD (2,560x1,440-pixel) OLED screen option, making this one of only a very small number of laptops or hybrids to use this screen technology. Big-screen OLED televisions are considered to have the best overall image quality, and adding one to a smaller laptop could allow for brighter, more colorful images, while also cutting down on weight and thickness.

The 15-inch Spectre x360 will be available on February 14 at HP.com and Best Buy stores, starting at $1,149 in the US, which converts to around £780 or AU$1,600. The OLED version of the 13-inch Spectre x360 is coming sometime this spring, but there's not an announced price yet.

See our complete CES 2016 coverage here.