BARCELONA: When reports broke that Lenovo had installed the Superfish adware on a number of its laptops, HP gleefully pointed out that its line of Windows laptops never feature adware or bloatware.
So when HP unveiled its latest Spectre x360 convertible at MWC, some tech fans wondered whether the device could be the bloatware-free Windows 8.1 laptop hybrid we've all been waiting for.
Design and build
The Spectre x360 is very similar to Lenovo's Yoga line of devices in that it features a hinge mechanism that lets users set it in notebook, stand, tent or tablet configurations.
HP made a big deal about the hinge mechanism, claiming its use of three spiral gears makes it the most robust and smooth mechanism on the market.
Testing the mechanism we found it was indeed smooth to use and felt reasonably sturdy. When converting the Spectre X360 from a laptop into a tablet, the hinge never locked up and felt noticeably stronger than those seen on competing devices.
Built out of CNC aluminium, the rest of the Spectre x30 feels as robust as the hinge. Measuring 15.9mm thick and weighing 1.49kg, the Spectre is also reasonably travel friendly.
The 1.5mm travel keyboard and "extra wide" touchpad are also impressive. The keys have a nice snap that makes typing on the Spectre x30 a pleasant experience. The Spectre is also reasonably well stocked for ports, boasting full-size HDMI and DisplayPort 1.2 inputs and three USB 3.0 ports.
HP's loaded the Spectre x360 with a quad HD display complete with Panel Self Refresh (PSR) technology. The screen is "optically bonded" to the Spectre x360.
HP claims the bond radically improves display quality and increases brightness levels by "pulling each pixel up to the surface of the display".
The PSR tech is designed to improve the Spectre x360's battery life and has no noticeable impact on display quality.
Testing the display on the brightly lit MWC showroom floor we found that while colour balance and contrast levels were great, it was prone to picking up stray light and regularly became reflective - though to be fair to HP the showroom conditions were very harsh.
It's also worth noting that unlike many other convertables, the Spectre x360's display features active stylus support.
The demo unit we tested came with Windows 8.1 pre-installed. The enterprise Pro version of the Spectre x30 is also available with Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 Pro.
Putting aside the inherent benefits of Windows 8.1 for business and the incoming free upgrade to Windows 10, we were impressed how free of bloatware the device is: the only pre-installed non-Microsoft app we could find installed was a McAfee anti-virus tool that comes with a free one-year subscription and can easily be uninstalled.
HP is offering the Spectre x360 with Intel Core i5 and i7 processor options and up to 8GB of memory. The HP Spectre Pro x360 features optional vPro support for enterprise customers.
As an added layer of security, HP's loaded both the standard and pro Spectre x360 models with trusted platform module (TPM) chips.
Sadly we didn't get a chance to benchmark the Spectre x360 or see how it coped with demanding tasks during our hands-on. However, during basic tasks like word processing and web browsing it performed well and we didn't notice any performance issues.
Battery and storage
The Spectre x360 is powered by a 56-watt hour battery HP claims will last up to 12.5 hours off one charge. Hopefully the claim is accurate as the Spectre x360's battery is non-removable.
The demo unit we tested featured a 512GB SSD, which HP told us is the top storage option available.
Price, release date and conclusion
The HP Spectre x360 is "expected" to arrive in the UK in mid-March 2015 with a starting price of £849. An HP spokesperson declined our request for further details about its UK price and release date.
Overall, while the Spectre x360 isn't terribly original, from what we've seen it is a fairly impressive convertible.
Featuring a solid metal design, wealth of processor options and active stylus support, the Spectre x360, on paper, is one of the most flexible hinged convertibles we've seen.
Hopefully it'll make good on its opening promise when we really put it through its paces for our full review.
By V3's Alastair Stevenson
Open source solutions provider makes acquisition in bid to shore up cloud development tools business
Aims to "end data bottlenecks"
Looking to boost your career in IT? Here are the best-earning roles out there!
The BlackBerry KeyOne is a strange device that brings the best of BlackBerry and Android together in a Qwerty-equipped package, but it won't be for everyone