Hands-on review: CES 2016: HP Spectre x360 15

The ultralight and thin craze has greatly changed the landscape of Ultrabooks and now it’s making waves in world of the 15-inch laptops. In 2015 we saw some incredibly thin and powerful notebooks like the Toshiba Satellite Radius 15 and Dell XPS 15. Now HP is introducing Spectre x360 15 as one of the thinnest 15-inch 2-in-1 laptops.

Measuring just 0.63-inches (16mm) thin, it comes at the same thickness as its 13-inch Ultrabook sibling, the HP Spectre x360 13. What’s more, the starting weight of this rig is just four pounds, making the HP Spectre x360 15 truly one of the thinnest and lightest 15.6-inch laptop to come out this year.

HP Spectre x360 15 review


The HP Spectre x360 15 is just absurdly thin and while holding it up, it feels almost like you’re wielding the dirk-version of Cloud’s sword from Final Fantasy VII. Luckily it’s not designed to be as sharp as cheese-cutting MacBook Air. Instead, the edges are blunt, nicely rounded and feature a mirrored finish for a classy touch.

The device feels as solid as a single sheet of metal and that’s not surprising because that’s exactly what they’re made of. Each notebook is machine CNC’ed from a single block of aluminum that makes it extremely solid.

HP Spectre x360 15 review

It’s a similar process to the way 15-inch MacBook Pros are made, but Apple’s notebook isn’t as thin measuring 0.71 inches (18mm) thick and weighing 4.49 pounds (2.04kg).

Of course, the MacBook has the advantage of being outfitted with discrete graphics whereas the HP’s 15-inch hybrid can only be optioned with integrated Intel Iris graphics. Similarly, the Dell XPS 15 is a thicker 0.66-inch (17mm) system that’s also heavier 4.4 pounds (2kg) but it can be configured with a Nvidia GTX 960m for greater graphics potential.

HP Spectre x360 15 review

Big on sound and media

While the HP Spectre x360 won’t be winning any awards for the best graphics on a 15-inch laptop, the Iris graphics will be more than enough to drive its 4K screen. And the 3,820 x 2,160 resolution display is a real treat being sharp, bright and colorful for multimedia.

That said, the bezels are huge, especially with the bottom lip measuring nearly an inch and a half. The bezels can be a bit of a distraction from what is otherwise a really pleasing display.

HP Spectre x360 15 review

Backing 4K screen up is not two, but four Bang & Olufsen tuned speakers. Sadly, they don’t all fire at the same time to amplify the overall sound space of this convertible notebook. Instead, the two tweeters built into the keyboard deck will sound off while you’re using the device as a notebook and switch to the two bottom mounted speakers when its converted into tablet mode.

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The idea is you’ll always have forward firing audio setup, which is a big step up from other notebooks usually outfitted with side or bottom mounted speakers.

HP Spectre x360 15 review

Users will also appreciate the extremely spacious and wide trackpad that nearly spans across half of the device. The keyboard also feels springy with a lively switches and 1.5mm of travel on each key, though, I wish there was some way HP could have squeezed in a number pad as you’d expect on these larger 15-inch notebooks.

HP Spectre x360 15 review

Specifications and pricing

Releasing on February 14, the HP Spectre x360 15 will be available at Best Buy and direct from HP’s website for a starting price of $1,149 (about £778, AU$1,573). You’ll be able to configure this convertible notebook with sixth generation Intel Core i5 and i7 processors.

For storage options, users will be able to spec up to a 512GB SSD. Memory expansion, meanwhile, is capped at 16GB of DDR3 RAM.

HP Spectre x360 15 review

More impressively, HP has managed to squeeze in a 64.5 Whr battery, which should translate to 13 hours of run time on Full HD models and 9.5 hours on an Ultra HD display-equipped Spectre x360 15.

The 15-inch hybrid also features one USB-Type-C connector that supports up to 5GB of data transfer and charging peripheral devices, but it can’t push a video channel. However, this laptop still comes with a mini DisplayPort and HDMI, as well as three USB 3.0 ports with Sleep and Charge capability.

HP Spectre x360 15 review

Early verdict

The HP Spectre x360 15 is an impressively thin and light hybrid notebook with more than a few features to make it stand out. It’s a sleek machine that’s thinner and lighter than most 15-inch laptops.

While you won’t be able to configure it with a dedicated GPU, it features a gorgeous 4K display and a unique audio setup making it excellent for watching movies. If the long battery life claims hold water in our full review, this could be one standout laptop for students and creatives.

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