If you’re looking for a cutting-edge laptop that has a bit of everything in a sleek, portable and premium package, may we present the HP Spectre x360 16 2-in-1, updated for 2022. This thing is loaded.
How about a beyond-4K 16-inch OLED touchscreen, a 12th-gen Intel processor, full 2-in1 tablet functionality, a 1TB SSD and Intel’s fancy new Arc graphics chip? It’s all wrapped up in a slim all-alloy chassis and remarkably reasonably priced.
CPU: Intel Core i7-1260P (4 performance cores, 8 efficiency cores)
Graphics: Intel Arc A370M
RAM: 16GB DDR5
Screen: 16-inch, 3,840 by 2,400, OLED, 400 nits, 100% DCI-P3
Storage: 1TB, PCIe Gen 3
Ports: 2x USB4 / Thunderbolt 40Gbps, USB-A 10Gbps, headphone, HDMI 2.1. microSD
Connectivity: Wi-Fi 6E AX211 (2x2), Bluetooth 5.2
Camera: 5MP webcam
Weight: 4.4lb / 2kg
Size: 254 x 355.6 x 20.32 mm (10 x 14 x 0.8 in)
Of course, those are just the headline items. The HP Spectre x360 16 packs plenty more when you peruse the full spec sheet, including audio by Bang & Olufsen, a fingerprint reader, an HP input pen, a digital creativity software bundle and a 5MP webcam. Oh, and very impressive claimed battery life of up to 15 hours.
On paper, then, this is one heck of a laptop PC that promises strong performance, excellent battery life, a stellar screen, 2-in-1 functionality, serious content creation capability thanks to digital inking support and that exciting OLED screen, not to mention reasonable portability. In theory, what’s not to like? In practice, we’re about to find out.
HP Spectre x360 16 2-in-1: Features and design
The new HP Spectre x360 16 2-in-1 (2022) sports the Spectre range’s signature design and build quality. That means crisp lines with bright chrome accents contrasting with either a dark blue or charcoal grey chassis, the latter constructed very nicely indeed from all-alloy materials.
Admittedly, the bezels aren’t super slim and the overall design looks a little dated compared to the likes of Dell’s uber-sleek XPS laptops. But the HP Spectre x360 16 2-in-1 feels like the proverbial million bucks and is very well built. The keyboard bed is nice and firm and the keystrokes are reasonably crisp. The 180-degree hinge that enables the 2-in-1 functionality is likewise robust and has just the right level of sticktion to help with adjusting the screen orientation and maintaining the various modes, including laptop, tent and tablet.
For ports and connectivity, you get a pair of full 40Gbps USB4 ports with Thunderbolt support, plus a natty little hinged USB-A port with 10Gbps throughput. Then there’s a full-sized HDMI socket in 2.1 spec, and therefore with up to 144Hz refresh output at 4K. Impressive. The chassis also squeezes in a microSD slot.
All told, the chassis comes in at 2kg on the nose. As it happens, that’s literally twice the weight of HP's diminutive Dragonfly Elite G3, but it’s also pretty reasonable for a 16-inch laptop with so many features.
As for the tech specs, we're right at the cutting edge in most regards. Doing processing duties is an Intel Core i7-1260P chip with four performance cores and eight efficiency cores, while graphics comes courtesy of Intel’s brand new Arc A370M mobile GPU. It’s an entry-level graphics chip to be sure, but an intriguing alternative to the usual Nvidia and AMD chips.
Without question one of the most exciting elements is the 16-inch OLED touchscreen. It’s formatted in the slightly taller 16:10 aspect ratio and so crams in no fewer than 3,840 by 2,400 pixels. It’s rated at up to 400 nits and covers fully 100 per cent of the DCI-P3 digital cinema space.
HP also bundles its own HP Rechargeable Tilt Pen with MPP2.0 (Microsoft Pen Protocol 2.0) support. There isn’t a slot in the chassis for the pen, but there are magnets on the right-hand side of the display where the pen can be located when not in use. Anyway, that high-fidelity OLED panel plus the pen input bodes extremely well for content creation.
Elsewhere, HP has gone with its usual audio partner Bang & Olufsen for the Spectre’s quad-speaker sound system, there’s a fingerprint reader for easy security, plus an 83WHr battery. On a final note, features-wise, HP bundles its own HP Palette, a creative software toolkit that includes a sketching and drawing app plus photo management, among other features. It won’t be a replacement for the likes of, say, the Adobe suite for serious content creation, but it could be a good starter pack for anyone looking to get some basic experience.
HP Spectre x360 16 2-in-1 review: Price
Pricing for the HP Spectre x360 16 starts at a remarkably reasonable $1,429 or £1,399. That includes goodies like the OLED panel but a lower-spec Intel CPU, a 512GB SSD and Nvidia RTX 3050 graphics instead of the Intel Arc graphics reviewed here. As configured, precise pricing isn’t yet available, but we’d estimate in the region of $1,500 or £1,500. It’s one heck of an overall package for the price and it compares well with the likes of the Dell Inspiron 16 2-in-1, which isn’t quite as premium an overall machine.
HP Spectre x360 16 2-in-1 review: performance and battery life
Cinebench: 9,589 R23 pts
3DMark Firestrike: 6,600pts
PCMark 10: 4,798pts
Metro Exodus 1080p Ultra: 25fps
Total War: Three Kingdoms 1080p Ultra: 20fps
CrystalDisk read: 3,304MB/s
CrystalDisk write: 3,049MB/s
CrystalDisk 4K read: 54MB/s
CrystalDisk 4K write: 145MB/s
4K x265 encode: 5.8fps
Battery life (1080p video playback): 11h 59m
To get the bad news out of the way, there’s something about HP’s laptop configurations of late that isn’t doing the hardware full justice. It may be related to the default McAfee anti-virus software installation, which we’d prefer was optional. But whatever, like the HP Dragonfly Elite laptop we reviewed recently, the HP Spectre x360 16 2-in-1 can be awfully sluggish when installing software and during some other data-intensive activities.
However, the core performance of the laptop is good. The Intel CPU and its 16GB of DDR5 RAM has plenty of punch for light to moderate content creation workloads. We probably wouldn’t want to use the Spectre as a dedicated video encoding rig. But as an affordable tool for encoding on the move, it gets the job done.
As for image editing and digital art work, the CPU, memory and graphics combo is mostly good. If you’re dealing with truly massive batches of RAW photos, this probably isn’t the rig for you. But for routine editing tasks in the field, it’s well up to the job.
Speaking of working in the field, the OLED display is an absolute beauty, so crisp and contrasty with fabulous colours and fantastic pixel response. It makes pretty much any LCD display look ancient. If you look very closely, you can just see the touch digitisation layer, but it’s invisible in normal use. The overall brightness at 400 nits is great indoors, but this laptop isn’t terribly well suited to outdoor use. You need something well over 500 nits for that.
As for the digital inking support, the OLED panel’s 60Hz refresh means it’s not quite as responsive as higher refresh screens. And at the lower end of the touch scale at lighter pressures, the sensitivity is perhaps a little lacking. But it wouldn’t take much to adjust for that and the overall inking experience is competitive.
That said, as a 16-inch laptop, it’s a hefty old thing to hold in tablet mode for digital inking purposes. You wouldn’t want to hold it aloft for long. It makes much more sense to use the Spectre on a flat surface in tablet mode. Incidentally, we’d say the jury is still out on the overall effectiveness of the new Intel Arc graphics chip. In our 3D-based tests, it produced slightly inconsistent results.
Battery life is another strong point, especially for a large 16-inch laptop. We extracted just under 12 hours looping a 1080p video with the screen at half brightness. More demanding workloads will obviously run the battery down more quickly. But for light tasks and web browsing, true all-day battery life is a realistic expectation.
Less impressive are the Bang & Olufsen speakers. It’s disappointing that such a well-known brand in audio is responsible for such a flat, muddy soundstage with so little bass or warmth. The volume levels are fine, but there’s so little detail, it’s unpleasant to use the integrated speakers for any significant length of time.
Should you buy the HP Spectre x360 16 2-in-1 (2022)?
While we have some reservations about the HP Spectre x360 16 2-in-1’s software configuration, as an overall proposition it packs plenty of appeal. The 16-inch OLED touchscreen is stellar, the build quality is great and the overall feature set, including 2-in-1 tablet functionality, an input pen, decent all-round performance and great build quality is pretty fantastic at this price point.
Add in strong battery life and reasonable portability for a 16-inch laptop and you have a very compelling laptop. Arguably, HP’s design aesthetic is a little dated and the Bang & Olufsen speakers are definitely a disappointment. But as an affordable larger-format laptop for all kinds of light to moderate content creation tasks - and as an all-round desktop replacement rig with added touchscreen and 2-in-1 tablet functionality - the HP Spectre x360 16 2-in-1 is excellent value for money.