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HP Spectre Showdown: HP Spectre Folio vs HP Spectre x360
March 20, 2019
In the world of touch screen computers and convertible 2-in-1 laptop designs, the HP Spectre Folio and HP Spectre x360 have become popular industry benchmarks.
While the two are similar in many important ways, thanks to HP®’s focus in developing the larger HP Spectre line, each offers its own unique features.
Some of those features may be more or less important depending on your routine and how you expect to use a new laptop. Both models are 2-in-1 convertible laptops, so you’ll find plenty of shared features offering similar advantages including multiple modes for use, impressive energy efficiency, and fast recharging to complement the long hours of battery life.
In this article, our goal is to make it easier for customers to compare the two. To that end, we’ll dig into both the HP Spectre Folio and HP Spectre x360, their similarities and their differences.
We’ll also use examples and scenarios to illustrate just how many new options you might find from a 2-in-1 convertible laptop line like HP®’s Spectre.
The HP Spectre line of premium laptops
As a family of high-powered and high-functioning business laptops, the HP Spectre line is rigorously designed to expand the functionality of a typical laptop. It improves on the experience of mobile computing through a range of hardware and use features, condensing as much as possible into comfortable and compact variants.
HP Spectre is the company’s best-in-class family of premium business laptops, with great touch functionality and enough hardware capacity to support professionals of all kinds. These laptops are also built for versatility, not just in their features but also their aesthetic.
The stylish and thoughtful finishing details ensure that they seamlessly fit into any work environment. From the office to the boardroom, at home or on the road, each configuration is designed to elevate portable computing and look good doing it.
Before diving into each configuration, we’ll talk more about the core features that the HP Spectre laptop series offers.
The latest configurations with lots of new functionality
Both the HP Spectre Folio and HP Spectre x360 lines are full-featured notebooks with the same options and add-ons you may expect from more traditional laptop configurations. However, what sets these laptops apart are the ways in which you can actually use them.
Every HP Spectre supports a range of work modes. Although you may imagine using either the HP Spectre Folio or HP Spectre x360 as a tablet or laptop, they can offer you so much more.
Here’s a rundown of the four configuration modes that these devices are built to offer:
1. Laptop mode: The traditional work orientation of a laptop with the keyboard laying flat and the display angled for comfortable viewing.
2. Tent mode: As the first of two media-focused settings, you use it by simply flipping the screen and rotating it to hide the keyboard and emphasize your display.
3. Stand mode: This is the second media setting. To use it, flip the keyboard underneath the display for more anchored streaming or touch screen collaboration.
4. Tablet mode: Fold the display against the back of the keyboard when you want to use it as a high-powered tablet, with or without a stylus.
To allow for a variety of different configurations and scenarios for how you will actually use the device, HP Spectre laptops boast a strong double hinge that supports the keyboard and display in every mode.
Given the new range of options and the appeal of tablet mode, the expectation is that you’ll be handling these devices often and potentially much more closely than a traditional notebook. With that expectation in mind, HP Spectre 2-in-1 hinges are built for comfortable and repeated use.
Premium display and touch functions
This series sets the bar high for displays. Both the HP Spectre Folio and HP Spectre x360 feature a selection of display options and come standard with Full High Definition (FHD). From there, you can upgrade all the way up to a 4K monitor and improve your experience with optional security and protection features.
And if you want a reliable stylus to use for general touch interactions, especially in tablet mode, you can add on the HP stylus pen. Some models actually come with stylus in the box, but if not, then you can always add one on, either at the time of purchase or down the road. The color and design of the stylus will vary depending on the laptop you choose.
For audio, you’ll find quad speakers with HP Audio Boost and expert tuning by Bang & Olufsen built into both models.
To deliver the best performance, the HP Spectre Folio and HP Spectre x360 are built with the latest 8th Generation Intel® Core™ i5 and i7 processors, with your choice of models featuring discrete or integrated graphics.
Paired with your choice of an FHD or 4K display, those specs will be a big help when it comes to tackling visually demanding tasks. Whether you’re working on a design or collaborative task, streaming the latest film, or gaming, you’ll love having these technical specs on your side.
Between everything we've discussed, both are well-prepared for multimedia and even more demanding visual tasks like photo or video editing, rendering, and design.
Although both laptops have the ability to complement any work routine, it won’t come at the cost of impacting your energy bill.
Fortunately for your wallet and the environment, you can find energy efficient options from the series with configurations offering the reassurance of ENERGY STAR® certification and EPEAT® Silver ratings.
HP Spectre Folio laptop review
The HP Spectre Folio is a luxurious, albeit accessible, take on the 2-in-1 design that features chrome-tanned, 100% genuine leather. Although this feature may seem to be purely for looks, it has significant implications for your routine when it comes to comfort and portability.
The comfort and adaptability of a real leather finish
Many of us are trained to think of the exterior of a laptop as a secondary concern, partially because there are generally so few options to customize them beyond the color.
Some of us have probably even skipped over some models because of the materials involved, whether it’s a question of metal vs. plastic, weight vs. performance, or even just the style of finish.
Yet, so much of what we do with laptops treats them as a surface, from the way we carry them from one place to the next, to where you rest your wrists below the keyboard.
While a leather finish requires some extra care and attention over the long haul, genuine leather actually becomes more comfortable as it weathers from typical use. Plus, it just looks fantastic.
Highly portable with a long battery life
The HP Spectre Folio’s leather body will no doubt impact how you travel, too. Compared to smoother metal finishes, a leather-covered laptop is easier to treat more like a book because it fits comfortably alongside documents.
It even provides a more firm and comfortable grip when you hold it by hand or carry it under your arm, which is a breeze given its 3.28 lbs weight.
Of course, the other pillar of portability is long battery life, which the HP Spectre Folio delivers in spades. Its battery life for standard use and streaming play averages between 20 hours for the FHD display configuration, and nearly 12 hours with Ultra High Definition (UHD).
That’s more than the average workday no matter how you slice it. This longer battery life also offers a slight advantage over the HP Spectre x360.
New options to customize color and keyboard
The HP Spectre Folio also offers numerous options for customization so that you can make your laptop your own, including the color of the finish and the keyboard’s backlighting.
To complement the leather wrap, you’ll choose from cognac brown and Bordeaux burgundy for your laptop’s non-leather elements. And on the keyboard, you can choose between nightfall black and luminous gold for the backlighting.
Pick your own specs and display, too
Starting with your choice of an i5 or i7 processor, you can customize your HP Spectre Folio with up to 16GB of memory and a whopping 2TB of efficient PCIe® NVMe™ M.2 SSD storage.
As for the backlit touch screen display, you’ll choose between FHD and 4K monitor options with a visually comfortable micro-edge regardless of resolution.
HP Spectre x360 laptop review
The core configuration of these two devices is the same, which means that the HP Spectre x360’s specs are comparable with a few small exceptions.
On the surface, you’ll find differences such as new color finishing options (dark ash silver and Poseidon blue) with corresponding keyboard backlighting. You can also pick from 8th Generation Intel Core processors along with up to 2TB of PCIe NVMe M.2 SSD storage and 16GB of RAM.
Two convenient size configurations
Both the HP Spectre Folio and HP Spectre x360 are available in compact, ultrathin 13-inch laptop configurations, but only the latter has a larger alternative.
For travel and portability, the 13-inch size is ideal, but some users may need more display space. In that case, consider the HP Spectre x360 15. Whichever size you pick, both laptops are less than an inch thick.
Long battery life for both sizes
With the HP Spectre x360 line, you’ll find two different power profiles corresponding to both size variants. The HP Spectre x360 13 provides up to 16 hours and 45 minutes of battery life, while the bigger HP Spectre x360 15 offers up to 13 hours and 30 minutes.
Although the HP Spectre x360 battery life isn’t quite as impressive as the HP Spectre Folio’s base estimates, it will get you through even the longest work days with standard specs.
Extra display protection
Making the switch to a touch screen laptop can be useful in many scenarios, but it comes with its own associated worries, too.
When you buy an HP Spectre x360 laptop, you can reduce some of that anxiety by configuring yours with the protection of a Corning® Gorilla® Glass display screen. It can protect against wear from traditional use and the added impact of touch functions.
Strengths and weaknesses of each HP Spectre laptop model
Now that you know how both the HP Spectre x360 and HP Spectre Folio can perform, let’s look at some of the standout strengths and weaknesses of each model.
Of course, we also know that both models are ultrathin and light with a full range of convertible features and long enough battery lives to power through just about any workday.
However, the HP Spectre Folio 13-inch laptop does offer a longer battery life in all configurations - as much as three-plus hours of extra life with the FHD display configuration. Plus, the leather exterior adds genuine value to your long-term experience.
On the other hand, the HP Spectre x360 has the option of a larger display via the HP Spectre x360 15t laptop. You can also opt for additional screen protection with the x360 by adding Corning Gorilla Glass to your configuration for both the 13-inch and 15-inch models.
Should you pick the HP Spectre Folio or HP Spectre x360 laptop?
There may be no true winner in a head-to-head comparison of the HP Spectre Folio and the HP Spectre x360 because the two share so much of their high-performance functionality. Even so, there are a few ways you can make your personal decision between the two a bit easier.
For a major upgrade in terms of portability and comfort, the HP Spectre Folio is hard to beat with its all-leather exterior and several-hour advantage in battery life. And if you prefer a larger screen, the HP Spectre x360 line can be more appealing thanks to the 15-inch display option.
The two lines are competitively priced with each other and share many of the same great features you’d typically seek in a higher-end business laptop. The choice really comes down to which style best suits your routine, your level of comfort, and your personal taste.
Related HP Spectre laptop article: HP Spectre Laptops Complete Review
About the Author: Dwight Pavlovic is a contributing writer for HP® Tech Takes. Dwight is a music and technology writer based out of West Virginia.