HP Spectre x2 a decent alternative to Surface Pro

HP Spectre x2 tablet.
PHOTO: HP

The HP Spectre x2 is a Windows tablet that turns into a decent laptop when you attach its keyboard accessory.

Its design is obviously inspired by the Microsoft Surface Pro. It has a similar kickstand that offers a wide range of angles. The Spectre's keyboard accessory even attaches magnetically to the bezel of the device, just like the Surface Pro.

But there are differences. To open the Spectre's U-shaped kickstand, you toggle a switch at the side of the device. On the Surface, you simply push the kickstand open with your fingers.

Made from stainless steel, the Spectre's shiny kickstand looks like something you'll find on a photo frame. It does not quite fit the brushed metallic look of the rest of the device but feels sturdy enough.

While there are ventilation holes along the edges of the Surface, the Spectre has smooth, rounded edges. This is because the Surface has to support a more powerful and warmer Intel Core i7 chip, while the Spectre is designed to work with only a fanless Intel Core M processor.

Unlike the Surface, the Spectre does not come with a stylus. However, HP includes the Spectre keyboard for free, while Microsoft charges $199 for its keyboard.

Both keyboards are very good. Key travel is relatively decent, with just the tiniest bit of flex while typing. They both have Microsoft Precision touchpads that support gestures such as switching apps with a three-fingered swipe.

The touchpad is a tad smoother on the Microsoft keyboard, but the Spectre has a wider touchpad. HP's keyboard also has built-in speakers to complement the Spectre's stereo speakers. Despite this, the audio was tinny and soft even at maximum volume.

The Spectre's 12-inch display has a 1,920 x 1,280-pixel resolution. While more than adequate for its size, this resolution is not as high as the Surface Pro's. The Spectre also has a relatively chunky bezel.

Running across the back of the Spectre is a black strip where the Intel RealSense camera is located. This 3D camera can be used to scan objects, but it feels like a gimmick. The front-facing camera cannot be used for facial authentication via the Windows Hello feature.

Compared with the Surface Pro 4, which has a battery life of five hours, the Spectre has a slightly larger battery that lasted 5hr 45min in our video-loop battery test.

Overall, the inclusion of the keyboard makes the Spectre more affordable than the Surface Pro 4, but I prefer the better display and kickstand of the Surface Pro 4.

TECH SPECS

PRICE: $1,799PROCESSOR: Intel Core M7-6Y75 (1.2GHz)GRAPHICS: Intel HD Graphics 515RAM: 8GBSCREEN SIZE: 12-inch, 1,920 x 1,280 pixelsConnectivity: 2 x USB 3.0 Type-C, microSD card slot, headphone and microphone combo jackBattery: 42 watt-hour

RATING

FEATURES: 4/5DESIGN: 4/5PERFORMANCE: 3/5VALUE FOR MONEY: 3/5BATTERY LIFE: 4/5

OVERALL: 4/5

Verdict: A reasonably priced and competent tablet-laptop hybrid.

This article was first published on December 2, 2015. Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to straitstimes.com for more stories.