HP Spectre x2 review

3c15 – HP Spectre x2 (12", touch, Natural Silver) with Windows 10 screen, Catalog, detached, left facing

The general theme to HP’s Spectre line is ‘sleek, thin and stylish’, although this latest addition isn’t particularly original: it’s very much a 2-in-1 that’s cast in the Surface Pro mould.

At 8mm thick and 840g, with kickstand and a chassis carved out of a single piece of aluminium, plus a 12-inch IPS 1,920 x 1,280-pixel display (at the same productivity-friendly 3:2 aspect ratio as the Surface Pro) this is a tablet-plus-keyboard that hews pretty closely to Microsoft flagship’s design.

It is, however, a smidgen more affordable, with OfficeWorks offering up a creditable Core m5/128GB SSD model for just $1,388 — the entry-level Surface Pro 4 will cost you $1,549 for less memory (4GB vs 8GB), a slower Core m3 processor and with the addition of the Type Cover, which comes as standard on the HP.

We should note, however, that between the time we started writing this review and when it was finished, the x2’s price had gone up — it was originally $1,199, so either OfficeWorks made a pricing mistake or HP decided that perhaps it was a little bit too much of a steal at that price. 

Considering it’s still around $200 cheaper, though, the x2 actually does a respectable job of being a ‘Surface lite’.

Sure, it’s a little fiddlier to switch between its two modes than on Microsoft’s design (you need to slide a switch to extend the kickstand, for example), but its fattish, AAA-powered stylus, which can be safely slotted onto the keyboard cover when not in use, still works respectably well for handwriting and drawing when you’re in tablet mode.

And alongside 8MP and 5MP rear and front cameras (respectively), there’s also an Intel RealSense 3D camera lets you use Windows 10’s face-based login, or even scan-in three-dimensional objects.

There are some key differences between this and the Pro 4 that are worth noting: there’s no standard USB ports here, for example, just two of the smaller USB 3.1 Type-Cs.

You get a dongle in the box that’ll convert Type-C to the legacy USB, but that’s one more thing you have to carry around.

HP Spectre x2 rear left facing_1The main caveat is that it suffers from some of the same usability issues as the Surface.

The kickstand doesn’t work particularly well on the lap, in some areas, the quality is noticeably lower than you’ll get on the Surface line: the keyboard doesn’t feel nearly as high quality as the Surface Pros — it’s a bit rattly and plasticky, by comparison — and there was a yellowish/purple tinge to the display of our test model, something that was particularly noticeable with skin tones if you’re trying to watch movies or TV.

At that original $1,199 price, this one definitely would have been award-worthy, but at $1,388 it doesn’t get quite close enough to the Surface Pro 4 for an out-and-out recommendation.

Still, if you’re keen on a very-functional 2-in-1 without all the Microsoft premium bells and whistles, this one’s reasonably good value.

Price: From $1,388
From: HP

Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5