The HP Spectre x360 16 2in1: A Laptop for Every Occasion

A SINGLE LAPTOP for almost every occasion? That might just be the new HP Spectre x360 16 2-in-1. This 16inch laptop is pretty loaded. How so? It starts with a 16-inch OLED screen with a beyond-4K native resolution. There’s a 12th-gen Intel processor, two-in-one tablet functionality, and 1TB of SSD storage.

And did we mention Intel’s controversial new Arc graphics chip? But that’s just the obvious stuff. The finer details include an HP input pen, speakers by Bang & Olufsen, a fingerprint reader, a digital creativity software bundle, a 5MP webcam, and a hefty battery with a claimed life of up to 15 hours.

The HP Spectre: A Sleek, Slim, and Moderately Portable Laptop

It’s all wrapped up in a sleek, slim, and moderately portable all-alloy chassis and offered at a remarkably reasonable price. It’s a decent proposition on paper and in practice, it’s pretty sweet, too.

The chassis sports the HP Spectre range’s signature crisp lines and excellent build quality, including a nice, solid keyboard bed and robust hinges for the 180° trick when converting into tablet mode. All in, the Spectre weighs 2kg, which isn’t exactly featherweight.

You wouldn’t want to hold it and use it as a tablet for long, but it’s pretty portable for this class of laptop.

That said, the Spectre’s design can’t compete with the likes of Dell’s zerobezel XPS laptops for visual delight. The thicker bezels and slightly dated look don’t have the same showbiz sizzle as the ultra-modern XPS family.

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Connectivity is decent, however, courtesy of a pair of full 40Gbps USB4 ports with Thunderbolt, and a clever hinged USB-A port with 10Gbps throughput that allows for the slim chassis. You also get a full-size HDMI socket in 2.1 spec with high-refresh 4K output capability. A microSD slot rounds out a reasonable selection of ports.

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But what about the performance? Doing processing duty is an Intel Core i71260P chip with four performance cores and eight efficiency cores. For graphics, it’s that fancy new Intel Arc A370M mobile GPU. As discrete graphics chips go, it’s admittedly very much entry-level, but still a welcome alternative to the usual Nvidia and AMD options.

Backed up by 16GB of DDR5 memory, the CPU and GPU deliver a solid core performance. While you wouldn’t want to use this as, say, a dedicated encoding rig, there’s decent performance on tap for getting moderate content creation workflows done.

What is the main reservation with HP’s factory software configuration?

Our main reservation involves HP’s factory software configuration. It’s hard to be sure exactly what is causing the problem, it may be related to the default McAfee anti-virus software installation. But as with another HP laptop we’ve sampled recently, last month’s HP Elite Dragonfly G3, this Spectre can be a little sluggish when installing software and during some other data-intensive activities.

More unambiguously successful is the OLED screen. It’s an absolute beauty, razor-sharp and delivering oodles of contrast and gorgeous colors, not to mention a seriously zingy response. It really does make conventional LCD panels seem antediluvian.

If there is a downside, it’s that the panel’s 60Hz refresh isn’t absolutely ideal for digital inking support in terms of input latency. We also felt the screen’s sensitivity was a little lacking, especially with lighter input pressures, but the overall inking experience with the bundled MPP2.0compatible pen is nice enough.

The HP Spectre x360 16 2in1: A Super All-Round Laptop for the Money

Battery life is another clear positive. This is a 16-inch laptop that can loop 1080p video for 12 hours. In other words, genuine all-day battery life is on offer provided you don’t go crazy with really CPU or GPU-intensive tasks. On a final note, the Bang & Olufsen-branded audio is a disappointment.

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The volume levels are OK but the sound quality is so muddy and flat that it’s unpleasant to use the integrated speakers for any significant length of time. It’s annoying, but it doesn’t prevent the HP Spectre x360 16 2-in-1 from being a super all-round laptop for the money.


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