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With university starting back up next week, many students will be looking for a new laptop or tablet to help with their studies. And for those who can’t decide which they prefer, the HP Spectre x360 convertible may be what you’re looking for.
The convertible form factor has been around for awhile and it tries to offer the best of both worlds. As the name suggests, the HP Spectre x360’s screen can pivot 360 degrees so it can fold behind the keyboard to mimic the look of a tablet but still having the power of a full computer, running on Windows 10. Or, if you want, you can flip it over part of the way, so you can stand it in a triangular shape on the table to watch movies and so on – which gives it a step up over two-in-one devices that detach from the keyboard.
I recently had the chance to test out the 13.3-inch model (there’s also a 15.6-inch) and it’s an impressive machine. It runs on a 2.5 GHz Intel Core i5-7200U dual-core processor, 8 GB of RAM and a 256 GB solid state hard drive so everything loads quickly and the response time is great. It uses a 1080p UWVA BrightView WLED-backlit touchscreen and has a thin bezel. So the display extends almost to the edge of the device and with the Intel HD Graphics 620 card, it offers a bright, vivid picture.
The extended screen also saves on size. The 13.3-inch model is 30.7 cm x 21.79 cm x 1.39 cm and weighs 1.32 kg — which isn’t super-light, but the x360 is well-balanced, so it is easy to hold with one hand in either laptop or tablet form. And it’s not uncomfortable to sit on your lap. Although, because it’s such a compact device, it can get a little warm over time – especially at the back.
The sound on the machine is phenomenal. While audiophiles may still wish to use external speakers, the x360 comes with built-in quad speakers from Bang & Olufsen, which is known for its high-quality audio equipment. The sound is very clean and is great for watching movies.
I was also pleased with the keyboard. Despite being a smaller device, it uses the standard island-style keyboard with click-in keys. And my large hands didn’t feel crowded while typing, which is often a problem for me on smaller laptops. The trackpad also is relatively responsive. To save space, the buttons are built into the pad, which isn’t my favourite thing, but you can always get a mouse if it bothers you too much.
Admittedly, I would say the x360 works better as a laptop than a tablet. The touchscreen works well but, of course, using it all the time would get fingerprints all over – so the x360 comes with a stylus as well. Powered by a AAAA battery (not a typo), the stylus works quite well when it comes to making selections on the screen or typing on a virtual keyboard.
However, if you want to use it to write or draw, it seems to work best at a 90-degree angle to the screen. So if it’s in laptop form, sitting on your lap or on a table, it’s fine as you’re likely holding your arm straight out, parallel to the floor to write on the screen. Alternatively, if the convertible is in tablet form, lying screen up on the table, it is also fine as your arm is likely at a 90-degree angle to the floor. But those are a little weird positions to write in.
Most of the time, you’d be holding the tablet in your hand and have the stylus in your other hand at more like a 45-degree angle. And the problem is, when you hold it that way, the stylus seems to leave little gaps in the lettering or lines. Probably, over time, you would figure out a way to do it efficiently but it’s a little disappointing.
Also, as I mentioned above, you can easily hold it one hand, it does feel a little weird as the back of the device, in tablet form, is actually the keyboard. It turns off in that position but it’s an odd sensation to be holding onto the keys.
The other drawback is the price. Two-in-one devices tend to be on the more expensive side, and the HP Spectre x360 is no exception. On HP’s site, the 13.3-inch model starts at $ 1,529 but it’s still an impressive machine if you have the money.