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Changes in Hp Devices Spectre

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HP deserves some props for the direction it’s taken its consumer desktop and laptop designs over the past year or so. It’s turned some relatively functional but cheap-looking products into sleek, engaging models that are as pleasant to look at as they are to use. The first redesign iteration of its general-purpose Spectre x360 15 premium convertible from the 2015 to the 2016 model took a big step in that direction.

For 2017, HP refines it even more, delivering a strikingly designed product that doesn’t sacrifice function for form. If a laptop can be both “premium” and “middle of the road,” this is it. By the latter, I mean it’s configured and priced for reasonably good performance at a sensible-but-not-cheap amount. As a result, the Spectre x360 15 for 2017 delivers a dynamite balance of design, performance and features for the money, as long as you don’t want something smaller and lighter.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Our test configuration costs $1,500 and will ship February 26; in the US you can custom configure it on HP’s site for as low as $1,280 or as much as $1,770. However, the only important options you can select are the version of Windows 10, the amount of memory (8GB, 12GB or 16GB) and storage (256GB, 512GB or 1TB PCIe SSD).

The closest UK configuration to ours is £1,500, with only 8GB memory, or £1,800 with a 1TB SSD. HP Australia doesn’t seem to even offer the larger version yet, only the 13-inch model for between AU$2,300 and AU$3,400. Directly converted, though, the US price range for the 15 translates to roughly AU$1,670-AU$2,300.

HP Spectre X360 15 (2017)

Price as reviewed $1,499

Display size/resolution 15.6-inch 3,840×2,160 touch display

PC CPU 2.7GHz Intel Core i7-7500U

PC Memory 16GB DDR4 SDRAM 2,400MHz

Graphics 2GB Nvidia GeForce 940MX

Storage 512GB SSD

Networking 802.11ac wireless, Bluetooth 4.2

Operating system Microsoft Windows 10 Home (64-bit)

HP bundles an N-Trig active stylus with the x360, but it also includes conversion cables for Ethernet and USB-A and more which are an unexpected convenience. The system has two USB-C connectors (one is Thunderbolt compatible) and an HDMI on the right side and a USB-A 3.1, headphone jack and SD card slot on the right, along with the power switch. That’s not a plenitude of ports, but that’s the way convertibles roll these days. The N-Trig stylus has nice balance and decent friction on the touch surface.

4K all the way

Changes for this year include limiting the aluminum chassis to the swankier copper and brown option, dropping the silver, and only offering it with a Core i7 and 4K UHD touchscreen with slimmer side bezels for a narrower profile. It’s responsive for both pen and touch, and not exceptionally reflective, with good contrast and saturation that should work for watching video, surfing the web and working. With a color gamut of 72 percent of Adobe RGB (which is very similar to DCI P3, the 4K standard), it probably won’t handle future expanded-range 4K, though, like HDR.

13.3 4K UHD touch screen for hands on control. Touch navigation makes the most of Windows 10. The Higher resolution equals better picture quality. Screens come in a range of resolutions (measured in pixels, horizontal x vertical). The higher the resolution the greater the picture quality.3840 x 2160 resolution boasts impressive color and clarity. HP BrightView glossy screen. LED backlight. 7th Gen Intel Core i7 7500U processor. Smart dual core, four-way processing performance for HD quality computing. 16GB of system memory for dependable multitasking. Substantial high-bandwidth RAM to smoothly run your games and photo and video editing applications, as well as multiple programs and browser tabs all at once. 512GB solid state drive (SSD). While offering less storage space than a hard drive, a flash based SSD has no moving parts, resulting in faster startup times and data access, no noise, and reduced heat production and power draw on the battery. 360 Degree flip and fold design. Offers versatile functionality with laptop, audience, tabletop, presentation and tablet modes. Intel HD Graphics 620. On processor graphics with 4162 total video memory provide everyday image quality for Internet use, video streaming and casual gaming. Up to 15 hours and 15 minutes of battery life. Long operation time with the built in battery. 3 USB 3.0 ports maximize the latest high speed devices. 2 USB 3.1 Type C Gen 2 ports and 1 USB 3.1 Type A Gen 1 port support sleep and charge and are backward compatible with USB 2.0 devices

Thanks to a first-class execution, the HP Spectre x360 13 is the Mini-Me of its head-turning 15-inch sister. What’s most surprising about it is how little HP had to drop from the design to shrink it into a 2.8-pound (1.29 kg), slightly larger than a letter/A4-sized 2-in-1 laptop, turning the x360 13 into the most compelling 4K convertible in its size class. True, the only other real competitor in that class at the moment is the Lenovo Yoga 910, but it has clear advantages over that and only a few relative drawbacks.

Of course, the first question you have to ask yourself when considering either system would be “do I really want such a small 4K display?” A lot of people don’t notice or just don’t mind the difference between the roughly 200 pixels-per-inch sharpness of 1,920×1,080 with the 13.3-inch display and the 331ppi of 4K UHD. I do. Interface text is easier to read, and I can really judge photo sharpness. But it comes with two big tradeoffs: battery life and price.

The 4K model’s battery life tests out about 14 percent shorter than the close-to-identical HD model we tested last fall, dropping from about 9.5 hours to 8. (The 4K model uses newer DDR4 memory which operates at a lower voltage and thus gives back some battery life, which makes the gap less extreme.) However, that’s comparable to a similarly equipped 4K Yoga 910. And HP rates the battery life at 16 hours for the HD model against 8 for the 4K that’s a nontrivial difference. The larger model comes with a choice of a higher-capacity battery to compensate, a luxury this model doesn’t have. Plus, it can run a little hot when there’s no airflow around the bottom.

HP Spectre x360 13 (2017)

Price as reviewed $1,599, £1,799 (with 1TB SSD)

Display size/resolution 13.3-inch 3,840×2,160 touch display

CPU 2.7GHz Intel Core i7-7500U

Memory 16GB DDR4 SDRAM 1,866MHz

Graphics 128MB dedicated Intel HD Graphics 620

Storage 512GB SSD

Expansion 2x USB 3.1 Type-C, 1 USB 3.1 Type-A

Networking 802.11ac wireless, Bluetooth 4.2

Operating system Microsoft Windows 10 Home (64-bit)

As for price, you’re paying a $250 (or a whopping £400) premium for the glory of 4K. Given that the display has a relatively small color gamut not even 100 percent sRGB you’re not even getting top-of-the-line 4K for watching movies. Granted, the 4K video looks good and streams smoothly, but it’s a bit too high contrast for my taste, with clipped shadows and oversaturated colors. Once again, though, a lot of people prefer that look.

Once you get past those hurdles, however, the Spectre x360 13 laps the course. It has an excellent keyboard without the layout gaffes and connection compromises of the Yoga 910. That model’s awful right shift-key size and placement is a deal killer for me, and the x360 has two full-capability USB-C/Thunderbolt ports in addition to the single USB 3.1 Type A for charging devices while the laptop is powered off. You do lose the SD card slot and HDMI connector in the 15-to-13-inch downsize, but that’s par for the course.

And it comes with a pleather sleeve which has a slot for the bundled Active Pen, a nice perk, if not quite as pretty as the system.

This size is more comfortable to use as a tablet than the larger models. The hinge has good tension, and though I’ve read complaints about position of the speakers when in “tent” mode, I had no problems hearing the audio while streaming video all night that way. Windows did seem to get stuck in tablet mode more than I like, but that’s an easy fix.

There isn’t much wiggle room in the important configuration options: you can choose between HD (1,920×1,080-pixel) or 4K UHD (3,840×2,160) touch displays, 8 or 16GB RAM and 256GB to 1TB SSDs. The HD system can be had for as little as $1,200 or as much as $1,700, while the more recent 4K model starts at $1,600. Configuration options for the 4K model aren’t available yet, but it looks like the 1TB option generally adds $350 to the price of a system.

The closest match to our test configuration in the UK costs £1,899 but comes with twice the storage. I don’t yet see a 4K display option in Australia, but the HD model with the same specs costs AU$2,899.

Price is where the Yoga 910 gets the advantage. Its manufacturer price for the same configuration is nominally $1,500 (£1,750, AU$2,800) but is discounted to $1,300 in the US; that’s significantly less than this model’s $1,600. That tempts me to recommend a wait-and-see before jumping in to buy.

With the exception of battery life affected by the different screens, its performance remains essentially unchanged since the last model we tested; unsurprising, given that they have almost the same internals. The Yoga’s “better” performance is at most about 4 percent, and since it has almost identical specs otherwise, I attribute its slight advantage to the faster memory Lenovo incorporates.

HD may suffice for most

I think the best value in the admittedly expensive line is the HD model with 16GB memory and a 512GB SSD for $1,350. If you want 4K and don’t need it immediately, you might want to wait a bit and see if the effective price drops a little. But if you want 4K in 13 inches and you want it now, the x360 13 is a great option.

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