A reader writes:
I have always enjoyed your hardware experience blog posts, and so I have been waiting to read your conclusions and experiences with your HP Spectre X360 -- especially in view of your Yoga failure.
A bit of history: I bought the HP Spectre after my Lenovo Yoga 2 failed from bad memory chips. The chips are soldered in, so I could not repair them myself. It was just out of warranty, and the local Lenovo Repair Center estimated a repair cost of $1,500 -- about $300 more than what the laptop originally cost me -- because the entire motherboard needed to be replaced.
(I later realized that the bad memory problem had manifested itself for the entire year I owned the Lenovo, with the frequent and randomly-worded BSODs -- blue screens of death -- particularly when it woke up from sleep mode.)
Fortunately, my credit card extends warranties, which paid out the original purchase price to me, with which I bought the HP Spectre. I subsequently found a used Yoga 2 motherboard on eBay for $300, did the transplant myself, and sold the repaired unit to a friend in need for $300.
TIP: Lenovo used the identical motherboard for its Yoga 1 and Yoga 2 laptops.
The reason I did not buy another Lenovo was because they make it hell for out-of-warranty customers to receive assistance. I was pleased, however, that the authorized repair center, a local computer chain named Mike's Computers, assisted me above and beyond with all the paperwork the credit card company wanted for the extended warranty compensation. The credit card company compensates the cheapest of (1) the original purchase price; (2) cost to repair; or (3) purchasing an equivalent replacement model.
The entire process dealing with Lenovo, Mike's, and the credit card company took about three months.
TIP: Keep those purchase receipts and credit card statements!
HP Spectre X360
The Spectre is HP's top of the line laptop, even above the former top-of-the-line Elite series. I bought the first generation X360, which is now two years old, I think. Subsequent generations of the X360 have suffered from the industry's runway-model obsession with thinness, which is code for losing functions, so I'm glad I got the original one. (The "360" refers to the screen's ability to rotate 360 degrees to make a mock tablet.)
So, I am happy with it, with two minor exceptions: the keys have less travel than the Lenovo Yoga 2, and so are somewhat harder to type on -- but still better than nearly all other thin laptops. There is no Mic button to turn off the microphone, although HP provides an app that does the same. I had more negatives with the Lenovo Yoga.
What I like best about the X360 are its feel and its speed. It feels so solid, whereas the Lenovo felt floppy. For me, a computer feels fast when it works as fast as I do at everyday operations. It boots from a cold start to the desktop in 18 seconds, and recovers from sleep mode in 1 second.
I had one minor problem with it: the orange LED for the mute button did not work. HP tried fixing it remotely with a BIOS update, but eventually decided the entire motherboard needed replacing -- still under warranty. They sent me an empty box with a pre-paid sticker and stuffing in which to return them the laptop. Five days later, it was back to me. So, good service!
The drawback was that HP didn't just take the old SSD and attach it to the new motherboard. Instead, they copied only my data to the new SSD, meaning I had to re-install all my software when the laptop came back.
The important specs in brief:
- 2.3GHz i5 CPU with integrated Intel graphics
- 256GB replaceable SSD, which I supplemented with a 128GB microSD "D:" drive
- 8GB RAM, soldered in
- 12.5" HD touchscreen
- Backlit keyboard
- Three USB 3 ports, all powered
- Full-size HDMI and mini DisplayPort ports
- Headphone/mic port and Webcam
- Battery lasts 6.25 hours in the real world
- Solid aluminum body
I bought the 256GB/8GB model, as it has the best balance between features and price. The cheaper model used a hard disk drive; going with a bigger SSD or more RAM meant the price sky-rocketed. With the microSD card holding non-critical files, such as downloads and movies I watch, the main SSD still has 100GB free -- even with multiple CAD systems and operating systems (via VirtualBox) installed.
When prices come down further, I might replace the SSD with a 512GB or 1TB model, but so far the 256GB capacity is sufficient.
So, while I highly recommend this first generation X360, I am not so sure about the model offered today by HP.