Laptops and tablets are beginning to be rendered obsolete by the 2-in-1s that combine the portability of a tablet with the productivity of a laptop into a new ultra-premium class of device.
Microsoft has its Surface Pro range – which features the newly announced Surface Pro 4 – and in the Spectre x2, Hewlett Packard has its own challenger. At a lower price than Microsoft’s flagship, the Spectre x2 has a lot going for it but how does it compare? We went hands on to find out.
A key difference between the Spectre x2 and Microsoft’s Surface Pro is that HP includes the keyboard with the x2, as opposed to charging an additional $120 premium if you want the keyboard for the Surface Pro. The keys themselves are comfortable to use and are very similar to those on the x360, except the keyboard is detachable (unlike on HP’s convertible).
The screen itself is a Full HD (1920×1080) panel, which is lower than the 2736×1824 panel used on the Surface Pro 4. On the back is a stainless steel kickstand that is adjustable and seems reliable; the Surface Pro also has a built in kickstand but it is quite thin in nature and the kickstand on the HP Spectre x2 seems to be more sturdy.
The design of the kickstand is such that it leaves enough space for a large battery, which HP claims will last up to 10 hours. Obviously, the actual battery usage will vary depending on how you use it but it does seem like it should last long enough for a day of mobile working.
At 8.23mm thick, the HP Spectre x2 is slightly thinner than the Surface Pro 4 and, despite the larger-than-normal screen size, it is comfortable to use even in just tablet mode. However, it’s worth remembering that it’s a large device and you’re unlikely to be carrying it in the hand for a large period of time.
What does set the HP Spectre x2 apart from the Surface Pro 4 is the connectivity options, as the addition of a 4G LTE wireless antenna and USB 3.0 Type-C ports that are capable of charging means this is truly designed for working on the go. As with other devices such as the Surface Pro (or the iPad Pro even), a stylus is a key part of the experience and HP has bundled its own HP Active Stylus.
The HP Spectre x2 also offers two cameras: the front 5MP camera is capable of Full HD video recording and is designed for video calls or conferencing, while the rear camera is where the magic happens. Although we couldn’t test this as the model was a prototype and the display didn’t switch on, Intel say the RealSense camera can map the surrounding in 3D for use in augmented reality.
Another factor that sets the Spectre x2 apart from the other devices in this product portfolio are the quad Bang & Olufsen speakers, which make their way over from the Spectre x360 and can be found on both the tablet and the keyboard. On HP’s convertible, the speakers are quite loud so we’d hope they are the same on the Spectre x2.
Like the Surface Pro, the HP Spectre x2 is available in multiple options and the power options are all based on Intel’s new Skylake-Y low power processors. The price varies but starts at $799.99 and rises to $1,149.99 before any customisations. As the price suggests, the HP Spectre x2 definitely doesn’t have the processing prowess of the i7 CPU inside the Surface Pro but this is a good thing as it doesn’t have the price tag attached either.
The price tag puts the Spectre x2 at just below the Surface Pro 4 and will be ideal for those who find the Surface Pro style, but are put off by the pricetag. The Spectre x2 is available for pre-order with a launch set for next month and if you’re in Europe, the price tag starts at €1,099.