HP x2 Spectre 2017 – rises above the surface (review)

HP x2 Spectre (2017) is a premium Windows 10 tablet/detachable keyboard – a two-in-one style made popular by Microsoft’s Surface Pro that raises the bar in some areas.

Unlike the Surface it has 2 x USB-C, Gen 1 (5Gbps, DisplayPort, upstream/downstream charge) ports and has bundled the keyboard and active stylus.

The review model was HP Spectre x2, an Intel Kaby Lake i5-7260U with 8GB RAM, 256GB NVMe SSD and a 12.3” 3K2K (referring to the 3:2 ratio, 3000 x 2000 resolution) screen at $2,299. It also comes as a i7-7560U with 8 or 16GB RAM, 256/512GB SSD and prices at $2,499 and $3,299 respectively.

First impressions – love the dark ash and silver highlights

  • The tablet
  • A leather sleeve/pouch
  • HP Active Pen (AAAA battery included)
  • HP metal detachable keyboard/cover
  • Fast Charger 5V-9V/3A, 10-12V/5A, 19/4.33A, 20V/3.25A, total 65W
  • Adaptor to convert to a wall charger or power cord for inline charger
  • USB-C to USB-A female adaptor

The first impression is the delight that the box has the whole kit – keyboard, active stylus, USB-C adaptor and a leather sleeve.

It is in a nice Dark Ash with a copper u-shaped kickstand, gold highlights, and a matching metal faced keyboard and pen.

Specifications. HP x2 Spectre Core i5-7260U

Model http://h20386.www2.hp.com/AustraliaStore/Merch/Product.aspx?id=2LS12PA&opt=&sel=NTB
Display 12.3”, 3000 x 2000, IPS WLED (included White LED plus RGB)

Edge-to-edge glass

Processor Intel Core i5-7260U, 2.2/3.4GHz, 2 core/4 thread
Graphics Intel Iris Plus Graphics 640
RAM 8GB-LPDDR3-1866 (soldered in – not user upgradable
SSD 256GB, PCIe, NVMe, M.2
microSD Yes (size unspecified but at least 128GB)
Wireless Intel 8265, AC, 2×2, MU-MIMO, Wi-Di
Bluetooth 4.2
Keyboard Full size, chiclet, 1.5mm/60g throw

Oversize glass touchpad with up to four finger gestures

Stylus HP 2 button active (battery operated) stylus – no details available
Audio 2 x Bang & Olufsen, front-firing speakers with HP Audio Boost
Ports 2 x USB-C, Gen 1, 5Gbps, DisplayPort 1.2
Interchangeable – power delivery upstream (charging tablet) and downstream (charges devices)
1 x 3.5mm combo audio
1 x microSD
POGO Pins for keyboard power and data
Dimensions 29.39 x 20.71 x 0.77 cm (tablet); 29.39 x 20.71 x 1.32 cm (tablet and keyboard)
Weight 0.76 kg (tablet); 1.13 kg (tablet and keyboard)
Battery 41.58 WHr
Claimed up to 8 hours (continuous FHD video playback, 150 nits brightness, system audio level at 50%)
Charger 65W – 5V-9V/3A, 10-12V/5A, 19/4.33A, 20V/3.25A
Webcam Front: IR for Windows Hello and 5MP camera and dual array mics
Rear: 13MP autofocus
OS Windows 10 Home
HP Apps HP Audio Switch; HP Documentation; HP ePrint; HP JumpStart; HP Orbit; HP Pen Control; HP Recovery Manager; HP Support Assistant; HP Sure Connect
Price A$2,199 at JB Hi-Fi

Windows Ink has never been so good

HP has put a lot of work into the Active (battery operated) stylus and it works flawlessly with Windows Ink – you can write, annotate, draw, sketch, use it with Windows Maps and in the Windows Edge Browser as well. In short, it works flawlessly with any Microsoft app.

Palm recognition/rejection works very well, it is an active stylus (Bluetooth connected and hoverable), minimal lag, good accuracy and has overcome the “broken line” effect of many previous pens.

Keyboard, trackpad and kickstand

A good rock, solid, chiclet, metal faced, leather backed, keyboard with a 1.5mm throw and 60g accentuation. There is no key bounce like other hybrids.

In touch typing test I could achieve about 95% of my usual speed as measured on a Logitech G610 Orion Blue mechanical keyboard.

The keys are backlit – on or off. It clips magnetically to the pogo pins on the bottom of the tablet and can be reversed to fold back to the tablet back with the keys facing inwards and disabled.

The oversized glass trackpad is responsive and allows a single swipe to move the cursor from top right to bottom left.

The stainless steel, copper plated, kickstand is a U-shaped hinge copied from a German furniture maker and it folds almost flat down to 150°.

Desktop replacement

HP has a $329 USB-C dock USB-C Dock that adds Display Port, HDMI, Ethernet and 5 USB ports.

I would also consider Kensington’s SDC4600P USB-C dock USB-C dock with power delivery at $349.95 with power would be my choice. It has a 60W power supply, supports dual 4K video (own video card – 1 x HDMI and 1 x DP), Gigabit Ethernet and various USB connectors.


It is a 12.3”, 3K/2K, 3000 x 2000, 10-point touch, IPS screen using a WLED (White LED) backlighting.

It has 6 million pixels in comparison to the Surface Pro 2017 at 2736 x 1824 (4,990,464 pixels) and but the Spectre is silent on colour gamut support.

It holds its own with the excellent Surface Pro 2017

Audio/webcam/Windows Hello and microphones

The two front-firing, B&O tuned speakers are placed at the top left/right of the tablet. HP says its rich authentic sound comes from the B&O Audio app overlaid on a Realtek audio driver where you can access presets for Movies, Music or Voice or play with an EQ.

Sound quality is good and clear – relatively balanced as it should be to allow you to make a difference with the pre-sets. Sound volume at 70db was good but still not room filling sound.

The dual array mics have optional noise cancellation and can be tuned to your voice or to multiple voices. They do an excellent job of picking up your voice even when walking around the room up to three metres away.

The front camera and IR Windows Hello login is flawless. The 5MP camera has a wider angle to allow you to sit further away in Skype or have three or four people in a huddle group.

The Windows camera app is comprehensive allowing for aspect ratio change from 16:9 to 4:3 (narrows angle), video resolution (FHD/HD/VGA @30fps) and digital video stabilisation (EIS), HDR and customisable shutter and other settings.

The rear 13MP camera uses the same app and will record FHD/HD/VGA @60fps.

It produced “adequate” pictures – colours were OK, fine detail was missing and while HDR helped it did not make a significant difference. For what it is, a fixed focus, 13MP lens it is fine. HDR produces approx. 1MB image, 4096 x 2034 – without HRD it is 500-600KB. Digital zoom induces too much noise so use it sparingly.

Summary: Both camera’s are fit for purpose.

Great performance

The i5-7260U is a relatively new 2-core/4 thread, with Intel Iris Plus 640 Graphics. PassMark gives it 5773. The i7-7560U version rates 6102 – not that much higher than the i5.

Video performance compared to the HD Graphics 620 is better, smoother and ups the 4K external resolution to 4096 x 2340 @ 30fps for HDMI 1.2 and 60fps for DisplayPort. It will support three displays – two external and one internal panel.

While these are both energy sipping they produce heat which is actively “fanned” away by two small fans and vented from the top of the tablet. Under full load the vent temperature can be up to 40° – most of the time it is just above the ambient temperature.

SSD performance was good getting 500MB/s or more for read/write to the drive and 300MB/s to an external Samsung T3 SSD.

Wi-Fi was great courtesy of new firmware achieving 526-700Mbps from the Intel AC 8265 chipset.

Battery – good for almost a work day

HP claims eight hours in a video loop and I replicated that.

In general office use, it got between five and six hours with Wi-Fi and the screen at 75%.

Recharge using the fast charge connector was 50% in 30 minutes and 100% in 90 minutes if the device is off and about double that if it was on.

It also works with a standard 5V/3A USB-C charger making it possible to travel with a standard USB-C  charger but there is an eight hour plus charge time.


  • Great looks – Dark Ash with copper kickstand and highlights, metal facing keyboard, and black textured faux leather exterior.
  • Keyboard is better than the Surface Pro as it eliminates neighbouring key bounce
  • Pen is easy to use and very accurate
  • Screen produces good, accurate colours
  • Good front and adequate rear camera for a tablet
  • Fast charge is terrific and it is USB-C rechargeable!


  • Battery life is good but not great – countered by Fast Charge
  • Would have liked Thunderbolt 3 ports but these are more likely in the 2018 model.

Who is this for?

If you are in the market for a hybrid then this is a definite contender – if gives Surface a good run for its money and in some respects, rises above it.

How do you know you know you can use a hybrid? Despite the hybrid hype, it is not a lap/desktop replacement as you need an expensive dock to make the most of it.

It is all about the road warrior and either Intel Core processor would be fine.


My initial impressions are that this is every bit as good as a Pro, it looks better, has a slightly better keyboard, slightly higher screen resolution, 2 x USB-C, and HP is offering a 1-year on-site fix or swap exchange warranty – that is excellent.

And the Spectre’s Dark Ash and silver highlights are very appealing.


Overall: 4.8 out of 5
Features: 5 out of 5 – two USB-C ports make it more flexible
Value for money: 4 out of 5 – HP currently has a $250 bonus gift card that makes this more appealing
Performance: 5 out of 5 – for what – a powerful Hybrid tablet it is it is perfect
Ease of Use: 5 out of 5 – Everyone who knows Windows 10 will find it easy to use
Design: 5 out of 5 – stunning, well made


From $2299 to $3299

Value for money
Ease of Use
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