HP Spectre x360 13″ OLED review

Spectre x360 in tablet mode
Spectre x360 in tablet mode

Almost perfect for me, just a couple of minor compromises

Five Stars

I bought this convertible laptop after my previous purchase of a Dell XPS 13 9350 died and had to be returned to the manufacturer. This laptop had the slight compromise of no USB type-C port, and only 8GB of RAM, rather than 16, but had the benefit of a convertible OLED screen.

The OLED screen is just amazing – the colours just pop from the screen, and it’s so bright, that even with the glossy screen it’s perfectly usable outside. Inside, in a dull room, you really don’t need it on any brighter than 20%. You can also view the screen from almost any angle, but you get a yellow tinge when you’re almost level with the edges. It’s a quad HD screen, and no matter how close I get, I still can’t make out a single pixel. It’s also always nice when you power on a laptop for the first time and you can see that there are no dead or stuck pixels.

The sound from the Bang & Olufsen speakers is great for normal computer use. They’ll probably not suit audiophiles or serious music listeners, but for computer sounds and watching videos etc, they’re great. The speakers are under the front left and right edges of the base.

I did think that I’d have an issue with the half-height enter key, but it’s absolutely fine in normal use. I do a lot of typing, and although I still occasionally hit the # key, I usually catch it in time to fix. I have more of a problem with the \ key being on the bottom row to the left, and the small arrow keys, but again, they’re not a problem. The backlight is really cool for the keyboard, and when you’ve disabled the annoying lit up F5 key for when you’re not using the backlight, it really adds to the look and feel of the device. The keys are nice and big, and have a nice spring and click to them, so you know when you’ve properly pressed a key. On the 10fastfingers.com website, I managed 79 words per minute, which is pretty darned close to my usual full keyboard typing speed. In a 13″ laptop you’re not going to get a separate number pad, but I don’t miss that.

The trackpad is great. It’s a glass unit, and my fingers just glide across it, making it perfect for the built in windows 10 gestures. There are positive clicks for the right and left sides, but taps on the glass do the job just as well. I’ve noticed that the odd click might be missed, as there’s a brilliant bit of software work going on detecting your palms, but normally it doesn’t skip a beat. The touchscreen is also great for sliding gestures, pinching and zooming etc, it’s easy to drag files and draw in a sketch program. It also supports active pen, although I’ve not got one of those to test it with at the minute. HP supply the laptop with a microfibre cleaning cloth, and you need it! What with beard oil, dog oil and crisp oil, the smears get a bit much over time!! πŸ™‚

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The killer feature of this laptop is its convertible nature. Flip the screen over and the keyboard disables, with it becoming a fully fledged tablet. The case backs don’t marry up solidly, there has to be room for air cooling, but it still feels comfortable and light in the hands. There’s a windows key and volume keys on the sides of the chassis, and the touchscreen just works. You can use it at any angle, and I sometimes like to sit it on the keyboard with the screen closer to me on my lap. I’ve had a couple of minor issues with the flip. One time I tried flipping whilst powering on, and was holding a key, so ended up in the diagnostics screen. The other was whilst going into suspend, and I just don’t think it liked it. Other than that, it’s been perfect.

All three of the laptop’s USB ports are USB 3, and it’s nice to see both a full sized HDMI port and a mini display port, along with SD card reader, power socket and combined headphone / mic socket.

The thing I’ve not mentioned so far is the first thing everybody comments on, and that’s its unique looks. The copper edges and hinges in combination with the dark brown “ash silver” case parts just makes the whole thing look amazing. Even the HP logo, standing proud from the lid still gets the occasional stroke from me.

Under heavy use, the fans spin up, and the case can be quite warm. I wouldn’t say you’ll burn yourself, but don’t keep it on bare legs… The fans aren’t too distracting however, even in a quiet room. Unlike competitor laptops, I’ve noticed no coil whine, or “piezo electric effect” on this device. The 8GB of RAM, Core i7 6th generation processor, and M.2 PCIe SSD make this machine fly. I’ve been a bit restricted on memory when trying to do too much with VirtualBox, so I’d have preferred 16GB, and this is non upgradeable (soldered on to the motherboard), but given the benefits of the convertible parts, it’s a compromise I’m happy to live with.

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It may be expensive, but in this game you get what you pay for. I simply cannot recommend this laptop enough. It’s light, it’s thin, it looks awesome, it has the best display I’ve seen, and it flies. Just get one!

The Zoo Keeper

By TheZooKeeper

An Azure Cloud Architect with a background in messaging and infrastructure (Wintel). Bearded dog parent who likes chocolate, doughnuts and Frank's RedHot sauce, but has not yet attempted to try all three in combination!


    1. Hi Joshua, thanks for the question.

      The response is simple – “absolutely gorgeous”… πŸ™‚

      Here’s a picture I just took of the screen on my desk:

      Laptop Screen

      1. That’s great, thanks for the reply. πŸ™‚ I’m considering to buy one but I was afraid of the “burn-in” that happens a lot in OLED displays. Do you use it often? I’ll probably get one and hope for the best that it doesn’t crack. Thanks again. πŸ˜‰

        1. I use it every day. No sign of screen burn, and there’s no after-burn on moving images or anything. I watch the occasional episode of “The Flash” on there, and I can’t fault it. I really can’t recommend the laptop enough – it also gets lots of admiring glances and comments from friends and colleagues! πŸ™‚

          Good luck!

  1. I have one too and share most of the positive aspects with you. It looks like HP aren’t doing this in an OLED version in their 2017 versions. There is no active pen support for OLED, I’ve done a lot of research into that and had no luck. Maybe this is why they have discontinued it? However the vivid colours and font clarity of the display more than make up for something I’d only use on occasion anyway.

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