At a glance

X2 (+) Good value; quiet; decent battery life.

X-Men: The Last Stand (-) No integrated USB type-A port; performance not great; kickstand solution needs work.

For those that want a Surface Pro, but can’t afford one

Now that Microsoft’s Surface Pro line of computers is catching some hype, HP is jumping on the bandwagon with its own variant of the convertible. Meet the HP Spectre X2. In many respects, it’s similar to the Surface Pro 4 we reviewed in the February issue. It’s a 12-inch Windows 10 tablet with a kickstand and a detachable keyboard. You can also purchase a stylus for it, for more input choices. But perhaps the biggest difference between the two convertibles is in price. The unit we tested has a $1,150 price tag, which is $300 cheaper than the Surface Pro 4 we reviewed. Unfortunately, while this may sound great on paper, the Spectre x2 makes some compromises that help explain its more affordable price tag.

The Surface Pro 4 uses a super sharp 2736×1824 resolution panel; HP opts for a more conservative 1920×1280. To the left of the HP’s monitor, there’s a volume rocker and a USB type-C port. To the right of the monitor are ports for a SIM card and Micro SD card slot. We didn’t like that you need to use a needle to get these two ports open, however. Finally, the last port here is another USB type-C slot. If you’ve done the math, you’ll notice that we made no mention of any USB type-A slots. Yep, the x2 doesn’t include one. The company did this to accommodate for the thin form factor. While the one-centimeter-thick chassis is nice, we would have preferred HP make the convertible a little thicker to accommodate at least one type-A port. HP does include a USB type-A converter in the box, although it feels a little janky to have it dangling off the side of the tablet when not in use.HP Spectre X2

Unlike Microsoft, HP actually includes the keyboard.

Despite the thinness, the x2 is about a pound heavier than the Surface Pro 4. At 3.4 pounds, however, it’s still not super heavy. We didn’t care too much for x2’s kickstand; in order to get it to pop out of the back, you have to press down on a physical switch to unlatch it. While this is a little annoying, perhaps the biggest annoyance here is that you can’t get the monitor to stand straight up or bend forward. The way the stand is set up, you have to lean it back a little. This is especially annoying when you want to lean it forward as you watch movies on it in bed. And the times we did use it in bed, the x2 had the habit of occasionally falling on its back. Fortunately, it comes with a good keyboard, which snaps on easily via a strong magnet, and the keys are about as comfortable to type on as any Ultrabook. We weren’t enamored as much with the trackpad, however, which is really wide and often couldn’t distinguish our right-clicks from our left. It also required a little more actuation force than we would have liked. Finally, rounding out the design are the speakers by Bang & Olufsen, which we felt could use a little more volume firepower.

Our x2 unit rocks a 1.2GHz Intel Core M7-6Y75 along with 8GB of DDR3 RAM. The CPU is only a dual-core/four-thread part that carries a 1.2GHz base clock. While that doesn’t sound too enticing, it is a 4.5-watt Skylake chip that is passively cooled, which makes it silent.

In terms of actual performance, you can probably surmise that it’s not ultra powerful. Because its form factor is so similar to Microsoft’s Surface Pro 4, we decided we would use that as our zero point for testing. Now, we don’t expect it to best Microsoft’s convertible, considering our Surface Pro 4 cost $1,430 and uses a 2.4GHz Intel Core i5-6300 CPU, but it should give you a good point of reference. In single-threaded CPU tests, the x2 ran around 20 percent slower compared to the Surface, and lagged behind in the mid 30s against Microsoft’s solution. In graphics, the x2 saw similar 25–30 percent losses. One benefit to going with a low TDP part, however, is battery life. Here, the x2 showed a 20 percent longevity boost over the Surface with the device lasting 325 minutes in our run-down test. Boot-up time was also great with the convertible launching in 14.6 seconds.

In the end, the x2 certainly has its blemishes but if you’re in the market for a Surface Pro 4–style device but can’t afford Microsoft’s version, the x2 can get the job done for a much lower price.

$1,150, www.hp.com

Benchmarks

  Zero-point (Surface Pro 4) HP Spectre X2 percent difference
Stitch.Efx 2.0 (sec) 1,447 1884 -23.2%
Proshow Producer 5 (sec) 2,343 2,947 -20.5%
x264 HD 5.0 7 4.4 -37.1%
Tomb Raider (fps) 33.4 23.6 -29.3%
3DMark 11 Perf 1,575 1182 -25%
Battery Life (min) 270 325 20.4%

Our zero-point is Microsoft’s Surface Pro 4 with a 2.4GHz Intel Core i5-6300U CPU with 8GB of RAM, running Windows 10 64-bit.3DMark 11 was run in Performance mode; Tomb Raider was run using low settings.

Specifications
CPU 1.2GHz Intel Core M7-6Y75
RAM 8GB
Display 12-inch 1920×1080 IPS
Storage 256GB SSD
Connectivity 2x USB C, microSD card reader, headphone jack, 802.11a/b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.0
Tablet/Laptop 2.7 lbs/3.4 lbs

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