The New HP Spectre x2 is the Latest High-Powered Surface Pro Competitor

The tablet-style 2-in-1 is getting a performance upgrade in 2017.

Detachable 2-in-1s — basically, tablets that come with thin keyboard covers — have long been attractive lightweight options for the backpack set, but they’ve been saddled with something of a stigma lately. Outside of the Surface Pro series, most of the options we’ve seen have been powered by Intel Core m processors — while those processors are more efficient and don’t need a fan for cooling, they tend to be underpowered, and no one likes it when their machine starts chugging because a few too many browser tabs are open.

Whether it’s because of media coverage, popular reception, or both, the industry seems to be reacting to that message this year. We’ve already seen the Acer Switch 5 and Lenovo Miix 720 with Core i processors this year, and now HP is following suit with their refreshed Spectre x2. The new machine makes HP one among many in the field, but the Spectre x2’s swanky looks might end up attracting a few more eyeballs.

The new Spectre x2 is a black 12.3″ tablet with a detachable keyboard cover, and it looks pretty nice. They’ve got a copper finish on the U-shaped kickstand on the back, and the whole chassis is made from aluminum. The kickstand now pops out with a push, instead of relying on a small side button like the previous generation. It’s now the same sturdy, adjustable kickstand HP used on the HP Elite x2 that we reviewed, and that’s a good thing. The keyboard is still plastic, but it’s got a nice deep black soft touch cover to match the tablet.

But, it’s the thinner bezels that really make the Spectre x2 attractive. In landscape mode, the side bezels are about 6 mm thinner, while the bottom bezel is about 4 mm thinner. As a practical matter, that shifts the aspect ratio of the display from 16:9 to 3:2 (it’s a 3,000 x 2,000 display), which is a little better for viewing photos and reading documents in portrait mode. We’re seeing 3:2 become standard in detachable 2-in-1s this year, so this is no big surprise. The nice display is complemented by dual forward-firing speakers with HP Audio Boost processing, in consultation with Bang & Olufsen.

Like we mentioned before, the specs are now laptop-grade. The new Spectre x2 now has a 7th generation Intel Core i processor (i5 or i7) with Iris Plus graphics, up to 16 GB of RAM, and up to a 1 TB PCIe SSD for storage. There’s a 13 MP camera on the back, and the 5 MP webcam has a wide-angle lens with an IR sensor, so you can sign in using facial recognition through Windows Hello. On the sides, there will be two USB Type-C 3.1 ports (not Thunderbolt 3) and a microSD card slot. This year’s model is pretty thin, so there won’t be any full-sized USB Type-A ports — you’ll need an adapter to plug in any external devices like a hard drive or a camera.

HP says to expect eight hours of battery life with mixed use, with fast charging that can get to 50 percent in 30 minutes. That battery life is shorter than the previous generation, but that’s to be expected with the move from a Core m processor to a Core i.

The detachable keyboard still connects to the tablet automatically, and doesn’t require any additional wireless connection to work. HP now has a nicer glass trackpad below the keyboard. Also coming with the Spectre x2 is a thick, pen-sized stylus that can be used simultaneously with your fingers.

The Spectre x2 will be available in June in two configurations — a Core i5/8 GB RAM/128 GB SSD machine for $1,000 and a Core i7/8 GB RAM/256 GB SSD configuration for $1,250. Both of those can be customized with additional features if ordered online, too.

HP is also announcing three other devices today — the HP Envy laptop, a traditional clamshell notebook, in 13″ and 17″ models, and the 15″ Envy x360, a 2-in-1 with a 360-degree hinge. The Envy laptops have premium specs, with the 13″ model getting a 4K display option. They’ll be made of metal with metallic color options, and they’ll be very thin and light. Erstwhile gamers can expect a discrete Nvidia GeForce 940MX GPU option on the 17″ laptop, although that’s a bit underwhelming now that we’re starting to see Nvidia’s lower end 10-series processors show up in other midrange laptops. The Envy laptops will range in price from $890 to $1,180 before customization, and will become available in June or July.

The 15″ Envy x360 is a metal 2-in-1 that has a little less in the way of design flair. But, the specs are all premium, and once again, there’s that Nvidia GeForce 940MX discrete GPU option. The interesting thing to note here is a lower-cost model with an AMD processor — AMD fell off hard for a while, but they’re seeing something of a resurgence, which is great news for bargain hunters. That AMD model will start at $700, but will only come with a 1080p display. The Intel Core i5 and i7 models start at $830 and $930, respectively, with 4K displays optional. All of those models are expected to become available sometime between June and July.

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