Review – HP Spectre X2
So what is a Spectre X2, Think of a Microsoft Surface Pro and you are there. It is a user focused touch screen tablet with a Bluetooth keyboard and Wacom pen. Lets get into the specs:-
Before I start this review I think it only right to point out that this review is brought to you with HP, and the guys over at DruryPN have kindly supplied The Diary of a Working Dad with the HP Spectre X2 for use.
- CPU: 1.2GHz Intel Core m7-6Y75 (dual-core, 4MB cache, up to 3.1GHz with Turbo Boost)
- Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 515
- RAM: 8GB LPDDR3 SDRAM
- Screen: 12-inch, 1,920 x 1,280 WUXGA+ IPS WLED-backlit touch screen
- Storage: 256GB mSATA SSD
- Ports: 2 x USB Type-C, microSD card reader
- Connectivity: Intel 802.11ac (2×2), Bluetooth 4.0, LTE
- Camera: 5MP HP TrueVision HD front-facing webcam, 8MP rear-facing camera, Intel RealSense 3D R200 camera
- Weight: 1.87 pound (tablet); 2.68 pound (tablet and base)
- Size: 11.81 x 8.23 x 0.31 inches (tablet); 11.81 x 8.23 x 0.52 inches (tablet and base) (W x D x H)
So when I got the device It was in a large brown box, open this however and a very sleek black box with gold Spectre X2 logo on it was to appear. Open this and bingo the treasure is inside, staring back at me is the X2. Wrapped in a clear film ready to rock and roll, There is always something about the unboxing of a high-end piece of tech and this is no different. HP really put in the effort to make sure you know this is top end hardware.
The first item is the tablet itself, sleek silver back with a pop out stand in a U shape that in my opinion is better than the MS Surface offering as it allows for a bigger battery. The stand is released by a small latch on the right side of the device but truth be told HP might have offered this on both sides but that is a minor issue.
Once the stand is released you need to move it into position and there is plenty of sway so you can have a near vertical screen or one laying down ready for the pen usage.
Beneath the tablet is the keyboard, to be honest this is by far the best keyboard for this type of device. I have used and have a colleague who has the Surface Pro and keyboard and this one knocks spots of the MS offering. For a start its metal finished in a brushed aluminium, there is a full keyboard and each key has 1.5mm of travel and a slick multi touch trackpad with a clickable and touchable option. The keyboard is also backlit and just screams in class.
The keyboard uses a strong magnet to attach directly to the tablet and there is nothing you need to do apart from start typing. We did try and use the HP offering on the MS Pro and vice versa but the polarity on the magnets was switched so this was a no go and Surface Pro users are bang out of luck if you thought you could purchase the HP keyboard for use with your tablet.
Further in the box we have a charger and USB C dongle so you can use a standard USB device. Then we have the Wacom pen also finished in silver.
So let’s turn this on and see what happens, In short if you have a Windows 10 machine then you are right at home here. I have moved from a MacBook Pro 13” that was 5 years old into this and have to say it’s a stellar piece of kit, Having a 256gb SSD drive this boots like lightning. I flew through the setup, signed in using my windows PC account that is on my desktop machine, couple of tweaks on the syncing menu and I was set to go in as little as 10 mins.
One thing that needed doing was a major amount of updates, so I just ran the HP support assistant to download and install the lot, this did take almost an hour but it was well worth it as the whole unit is not bang up to date. Speaking of the HP support assistant this will keep an eye on all your main software drivers and if there is any update needed. Just open the window and click on the “download and install” button and leave it do its thing.
When using the Spectre X2 for the first few times you need to remember that it will auto switch from tablet normal laptop mode to tablet mode when the keyboard is removed. This means there is a slight change in the UI and this can lead to a little confusion if you are not aware, hand though you can switch this back from tablet mode even if the keyboard is not attached.
Given this is a touch screen tablet you have a larger than iPad 12 inch display to play around with and this is every bit as good as the iPad Air I have. In fact I have found myself only using the iPad Air on very rare occasions. The Spectre X2 has what some might say a thick bezel, I think its fine, in fact its quite a deceptive device in that I thought the MS Surface Pro was a lot bigger but it turns out they are the same size. The screen is sharper on the Surface Pro but only when you place them side by side. Viewing HD content on this bright screen is a delight. The colours are bright and vivid and everything looks great with a punch colour and good colour saturation.
I have placed very little onto this device, not for any other reason than its not being used as a games machine and I like to keep devices very light and only install what I need. To that end I have installed the full MS Office 13 from my account, All working within minutes and working like a dream.
I have my Google Account set up with Google Drive as I use this as my main cloud storage solution. This now appears as a drive for me to work from. Even when working offline I can for example type this review while waiting for Dylan to complete his football training on a cold Friday Evening while in the car. I can save as normal and it will sync back to Google when it has WIFI in range.
I am forcing myself into using MS Edge as a browser again in an effort to keep the device software free and again I have to concede that MS have made some major changes and it is very good indeed and displays everything as intended on the Spectre.
One thing I have noted is on occasion the Edge Browser and Display adapter crashes when viewing online video, 99% of the time for every other action the display is well behaved. Throw in browser based video at it and it throws a little tantrum sometimes. Over the Xmas period my wife wanted to watch RTE Player through Edge and it would just kill the display and reboot the machine. Watch it in Chrome and Chrome just stopped. I killed both in the task manager rebooted the machine with thanks to the speedy SSD was mighty and got it stable for a while but she reverted back to the iPad.
Chrome also had a tendency to crash out after around 15 secs – the latest build was in place so there was something wrong here.
Since then however it’s been well behaved again. I am unsure as to why this is but it could be a Windows 10 driver issue on some Google investigations and not a Spectre issue. Again though it’s a minor niggle as most other video through VLC under various codecs works well and without issues.
Battery life on the Spectre has been good, lets face it though it won’t match the iPad and it’s not supposed to. This will however go 5 hrs with a video on 50% brightness on a loop. Plenty for on the move web site editing needs. To be honest I have a setting in the power save menu for working on battery only and one for when I am on the mains. Once you have the power settings as needed you can work away for quite some time off the mains.
What’s it like to live with?
Well I have been using this as my go to device on the road and when editing the site. I am doing to minor work in GIMP2 for creative aspects. I have watched videos, worked in Excel and Word with PowerPoint getting a run out and all are perfect. I also take this into the office with me and as we have a BYOD policy I can use it with very little effort.
To be honest if you need a decent powered well specced portable tablet come full blown Windows 10 laptop then you won’t go far wrong with the Spectre X2. I am really blown away with it. Its everything I need from Windows 10. I can run full applications without compromise. I know of a colleague who will be getting one to replace his laptop in work and while I am using the M3 version he will get the M7 as will be running some quite intensive applications but its more than capable.
If you are looking for a device in this sector the only real competitor is the MS Surface Pro 3 – but with this you have to pay extra for the pen/keyboard and they are not as good. Sure the Surface has the better screen resolution and some extras but as an overall package and value for money this is by far the better deal.
Its light and fits well into the STM Trust bag I got a while back. The device draws attention with several people asking what it is and surprised at the premium feel of the Spectre x2 – given I do not abuse my hardware I can see this lasting a very long time and having many a happy time improving the Diary of a Working Dad. Would I buy one… Yes i would but the display adapter would need to be sorted
I will update with my longer term feedback on the device but given first impression I think this will be a great work horse.
4.8 out of 5 – just a couple of minor issues keep it from a 5 star review.