HP Spec­tre x2 Win­dows lap­top-tablet hy­brid tries to do too much with too lit­tle

What’s un­der the Sur­face?

Computer Active (UK) - - Contents -

The price of HP’S newly up­dated Win­dows 10 tablet has al­ready been cut, and com­pared to the ri­val Sur­face Pro this model looks al­most rea­son­able. Mi­crosoft’s near­est con­fig­u­ra­tion would cost you £200 more, and that’s be­fore you pay through the nose for a key­board and sty­lus. HP in­cludes th­ese, and the de­sign of the Spec­tre x2 leaves no doubt that this is more than a copy­cat prod­uct.

The shiny Spec­tre trim is of­fi­cially cop­per-coloured, but you could be for­given for call­ing it gold. Set against dark-grey matt alu­minium, it gives the x2 the look of some­thing you might find built into a five-star ho­tel room. Some will find it too gar­ish, but there’s no deny­ing it looks ex­pen­sive. The 12.3in touch­screen sec­tion that con­tains all the elec­tron­ics is un­der 8mm thick and weighs 780 grams, barely more than a 12.9in ipad Pro. For a Win­dows 10 sys­tem, that’s re­mark­able, and with the key­board clipped on it’s still a very por­ta­ble 1.15kg.

The key­board feels re­as­sur­ingly rigid, and can sit flat or tilted at a com­fort­able typ­ing an­gle. We weren’t so im­pressed with the track­pad, which has a lovely frosted glass fin­ish but didn’t al­ways re­spond ac­cu­rately. The mag­netic con­nec­tion to the screen kept it in place, but oc­ca­sion­ally the x2 re­fused to recog­nise the key­board.

HP’S Ac­tive Pen worked well with Win­dows 10’s Ink fea­tures. Although it lacks the Sur­face Pen’s tilt sen­si­tiv­ity and can’t quite match its ‘nib on paper’ feel, it doesn’t slip too much and didn’t get con­fused when our hand rested on the screen.

From the pre­vi­ous rather dull Full HD panel, the x2’s screen has been up­graded to a Sur­face-beat­ing 3000x2000-pixel res­o­lu­tion, with very high con­trast and bright­ness lev­els. Our test de­tected just un­der 92 per cent of the SRGB range, which might not sat­isfy pro­fes­sional photo edi­tors, but ac­cu­racy within that range was ex­cel­lent.

For gen­eral Win­dows use and por­ta­ble en­ter­tain­ment, it’s su­perb, and Win­dows 10’s scal­ing fea­tures let you make prac­ti­cal use of ev­ery pixel. It’s com­ple­mented by a pair of un­ex­pect­edly rich Bang & Olufsen speak­ers, de­cent front and rear cam­eras, and a us­able set of con­nec­tions. There are two multi-pur­pose USB Type-c ports, although they only go up to 5Mbps, a head­phone jack and a mi­crosd card slot.

In­tel’s i7-7650u pro­ces­sor, how­ever, didn’t quite per­form as we’d hoped. Geekbench 4, a well-re­spected speed test, rates it very highly, com­fort­ably beat­ing the old Sur­face Pro 4 and not far be­hind Mi­crosoft’s lat­est model, sim­ply named Sur­face Pro (see our re­view, Is­sue 508), which has a slightly faster i7 pro­ces­sor. But in our tests, which take much longer to run, and sim­u­late real tasks like pro­cess­ing 4K video, the Spec­tre x2 fell way be­hind, not even man­ag­ing half the new Sur­face Pro’s per­for­mance.

We found the ex­pla­na­tion for this in the tem­per­a­ture logs. The x2’s i7 chip hit 96°C, putting it within a whisker of shut­ting down. Ev­i­dently, the slim case couldn’t quite dis­si­pate heat fast enough, and the mother­board was throt­tling the pro­ces­sor to stop it over­heat­ing. So the x2 will han­dle most ev­ery­day tasks very smoothly, but you can’t rely on it blaz­ing through more de­mand­ing jobs or 3D games. How­ever, th­ese will just about run playably at Full HD thanks to the built-in Iris 640 graph­ics card.

That the­o­ret­i­cally pow­er­ful pro­ces­sor still brings a down­side, ex­ac­er­bated by the fancy screen. In our video-play­back test, the Spec­tre x2 lasted just five hours. De­pend­ing on how you use it, that may or may not worry you, but it’s less than half the Sur­face Pro’s stamina.

VER­DICT: We wanted to love the Spec­tre, but it hasn’t quite solved the prob­lems of squeez­ing a Win­dows PC into such a tight space

AL­TER­NA­TIVE: Mi­crosoft Sur­face Pro £1,549 It’s more ex­pen­sive once you add the key­board and sty­lus, but per­for­mance is un­de­ni­ably bet­ter

Its com­pact de­sign only serves to com­pro­mise its per­for­mance

SPEC­I­FI­CA­TIONS 2.4GHZ In­tel Core i7-7560u dual-core pro­ces­sor • 8GB mem­ory • 512GB SSD • 12.3in 3000x2000pixel touch­screen • 13-megapixel rear cam­era

• 5-megapixel front cam­era • 802.11ac Wi-fi • Blue­tooth 4.2 • 2x USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type-c ports • Mi­crosd card reader • Win­dows 10 Home • 1.3x294x207mm (HXWXD) with key­board • 1.15kg

• One-year war­ranty www.snipca.com/25821

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