HP Spectre x360 The HP Spectre x360 has a solid aluminum body, smooth 360-degree hinges, an excellent display and very long battery life. The Spectre x360 is one of our new favorite laptops, thanks to its premium design, fast performance, vibrant screen and comfortable keyboard. It's relatively heavy compared to competing laptops, but it mostly makes up for it with nearly best-in-class battery life. Performance and battery With dual video outputs, HDMI and mini-DisplayPort, the Spectre x360 can drive two external monitors at once, and the system also follows a welcome recent trend of dropping older USB ports and making every port a USB 3.0 version.
But, before you expect too much in terms of performance from the new Intel CPUs, a MacBook with last year's Core i5 CPU, was still in the running (and led in one test), while a different Broadwell-generation chip, the ultra-low-voltage Core M found in the Lenovo Yoga 3 Pro, was slower in all tests by a noticeable margin.
It's battery life that really makes this system stand with the best in its category, with the Spectre x360 running for exactly 12 hours in our video playback battery drain test. That's not as rare a score as it might have been even last year, but having more laptops that top a dozen hours of battery life is not a trend anyone should argue with.
A pair of Dell XPS 13 systems, with substantially similar hardware configurations (including the same fifth-gen Intel Core i5 CPU), showed the wide range of possible battery life, with a higher-res touchscreen model running for about seven hours, while a non-touch 1,920x1,080 screen model running for about 12 hours, closely matching the Spectre x360.
The midrange x360 I reviewed featured Intel’s popular 5th-generation “Broadwell” Core i5-5200U, 8GB of DDR3/1600, a 256GB M.2 SATA SSD and an IPS 1920x1080 screen. This configuration will set you back $1,000, but you can step it down to $900 by halving the SATA SSD and RAM. Personally, I’d say spend the extra $100.
This configuration is actually fairly competitive. Outfitted with similar components, Dell’s XPS 13, for example, is $800—but it’s not a convertible and it even lacks the touchscreen at that price. Also, the XPS 13’s smaller, lighter form factor feels great until you touch the keyboard. The Spectre x360’s keyboard is far more comfortable to type on than the XPS 13’s. Frankly, I’d probably trade the XPS 13’s compact size for the Spectre x360’s keyboard in a second if it were my everyday driver.
Other details of the Spectre x360 also impressed me. The tiny power button on the left side of the frame is a bit annoying—you have to hunt for it. However, it takes just enough pressure that you can’t easily activate it by accident. On the convertible Yoga 3 Pro, I’d put the machine to sleep all the time just by picking up the chassis.
The clickable trackpad is superwide. While that can leads to false taps (I flail my thumbs when typing at full speed and mash my palms, too), I didn’t have any issues with it—my measured typing speed was comparable to what I’d achieve on a full-size laptop keyboard. I can’t say that about Dell’s XPS 13. One issue on the Spectre x360 worth noting: On occasion, I found it didn’t detect my right mouse-click.
In port selection, HP plays it safe and sane with three USB 3.0’s, mini DisplayPort and a full-sized HDMI. There’s also an SD card reader and a combo analog audio jack. Apparently HP doesn’t live in that bizarro MacBook world, where you get lauded for eliminating consumer choice in ports and forcing people to carry a bag of dongles.
The shell is milled from a solid block of aluminum. To add pizzazz, HP polished the edges of the body and screen. It gives this convertible a beautiful look that sets it apart from any other unit we’ve seen this year.
It's heavier than a MacBook Air, and like many similar hybrids, it leaves the keyboard exposed in tablet mode. Higher-end screen options could limit battery life.
THE BOTTOM LINE With long battery life, good performance and an attractive design, the HP Spectre x360 is one of the best convertible notebooks you can buy. While not as light, or convenient, in tablet mode as the , the x360 is less expensive, has a more powerful processor and lasts longer on a charge. If you're not interested in a convertible, the nontouch version of the offers similar performance and much longer battery life in a smaller package. But if you want something that can adapt with your needs, the Spectre x360 is a very good choice.
Price:$899.00 VS Microsoft Surface Pro 4
There's a new reigning king of Windows tablets and its name is the Surface Pro 4. Building on everything the last iteration got right, this new slate introduces a larger screen more sensitive touchscreen perfected for everything from penning documents to painting images. Thanks to a newly redesigned island keyboard, tapping away on the Type Cover feels almost as good as a real laptop and the glass trackpad feels simply superb. Internally the Microsoft's latest also features a faster processor and storage, all in a shell that's actually lighter and thinner than the Surface Pro 3. Overall, these improvements make the Surface Pro 4 an affordable Windows tablet that really can replace your laptop.The Surface Pro 4 fits a larger screen with a higher resolution into a slightly slimmer body than last year's model. The pen and keyboard cover are also improved, and this is one of the first mobile systems shipping with Intel's latest processors. Design The Surface tablet line set out its basic design rules with the very first generation of products and has largely stuck to its guns since. What we've seen, instead of wholesale reimagining, is a steady march of improvements to the display and chassis, helping the product feel just a bit more premium with every generation.
The earliest Surface Pro models were 13mm thick, while last year's Surface Pro 3 shaved that down to 9.1mm. This year, we're down to 8.4mm, despite increasing the size of the screen. Both the Surface Pro 3 and Surface Pro 4 are 1.7 pounds (771 grams) by themselves, or 2.5 pounds (1.13 kg) with their keyboard cover and stylus pens attached. One of the biggest improvements to last year's Surface Pro carries over here: the highly adjustable kickstand, which can be adjusted to nearly any angle between 22 and 150 degrees. The kickstand, which runs the entire width of the system, is stiff enough that it will stay where you put it, and hardly moves at all, even when using your fingers or the pen on the touchscreen.
Missing from the black bezel surrounding the screen this time around is the capacitive Windows logo touch button. In previous Surface models, this moved around from the long edge to the short edge of the system, but always served the same purpose: to take you back to the Windows 8 tile interface. As we're now operating in the Windows 10 world, having a physical home button isn't necessary, although the Windows 10 "tablet mode" is still very similar to what Window 8 looked like. Performance Microsoft is offering the Surface Pro 4 in sixth-generation Intel Core M, Core i5 and Core i7 options. The M version comes with Intel HD graphics 515, while the i5 comes with slightly more powerful Intel HD graphics 520. The top i7 variant comes with Intel HD graphics 540. Adding further complexity to the mix, you can also load the Pro 4 with 4GB, 8GB or 16GB of RAM. I tested the Core i5 model with 8GB of RAM.
The model benchmarked fairly well. The Surface Pro 4 ran in with a 6,727 multi-core Geekbench score. On the graphics intensive 3DMark: Cloud Gate, it scored a solid 6,019. Neither scores are groundbreaking, but they put the Pro 4 on a par with most top-end 2015 convertible tablets and well above its 2014 predecessor. By comparison, the Surface Pro 3 scored 3,491 in Geekbench.
The benchmarks proved accurate with real-world use, and the Surface Pro 4 delivers solidly impressive performance. Using the unit as my primary tablet and laptop, I didn’t notice any serious performance jitters. The Surface loaded web pages instantly, ran applications smoothly, and proved capable of playing Steam games, such as Deathwatch: Tyranid Invasion and Divinity Original Sin, chug free – if the graphics settings weren't maxed.
Battery life Microsoft touts a battery life of up to nine hours of video
playback – that's the same figure given for the Pro 3 so there's no official
benefit on this front. We're still testing batter life and will add our results
very soon. But,Microsoft
still refuses to include the Type Cover keyboard by default, forcing a separate
purchase. Battery life still isn't enough for
a full day. The
Bottom Line A host of small refinements cements the Surface Pro 4's position as
the best-in-class Windows tablet -- so long as you're prepared to pay extra for
the required keyboard cover accessory. Spec sheet
- CPU: 2.4GHz Intel Core i5-6300U (dual-core, 3MB cache, up to 3GHz with Turbo Boost)
- Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 520
- RAM: 8GB LPDDR3
- Screen: 12.3-inch, 2,736 x 1,824 PixelSense display (Contrast ratio: 1,300:1, 100% sRGB color, 10-point multi-touch, 3:2 aspect ratio)
- Storage: 256GB SSD (PCIe 3.0)
- Ports: 1x USB 3.0, mini DisplayPort, microSD card reader (UHS-I), headphone/mic jack
- Connectivity: 802.11ac Wi-Fi (2 x 2 MIMO), Bluetooth 4.0 (Low Energy)
- Cameras: 8MP rear-facing, auto-focus camera (1080p HD); 5MP front-facing, 1080p HD camera
- Weight: 1.73 pounds
- Size: 11.5 x 7.93 x 0.36 inches (W x D x H)