- Review Date: 3/20/2014
- Bottom line: The HP Spectre 13t-h200 x2 is a detachable hybrid ultrabook/tablet with an elegant design, but it doesn't compare well to ultrabook competitors.
- Pros: Sleek, fanless design offers ultrabook functionality and the portability of a tablet. Decent-sized 128GB solid-state drive (SSD). Backlit keyboard. Great sound. Dual-battery design.
- Cons: Specialized processor sacrifices power to keep temperatures low. No rear-facing camera.
The HP Spectre 13t-h200 x2 ($1,169.99, as tested) is a hybrid tablet and ultrabook, combining some of the best elements of both devices into one elegant design. While detachable hybrids aren't quite ready to supplant full-fledged ultrabooks for your productivity needs, they are getting much closer. The Spectre 13t-h200 x2
The Spectre 13t-h200 x2 is a detachable hybrid, with a two-piece tablet and keyboard design nearly identical to the Atom-powered HP Envy X2 (11-g012nr)
The tablet houses the actual PC hardware, in addition to a 13.3-inch full HD (1,920-by-1,080) touch display. The separate docking keyboard offers a backlit keyboard, multi-touch clickpad with gesture support, and several full-size ports, as well as a secondary battery, which extends the usable life of the Spectre 13t-h200 x2 by more than an hour. Because all of the components are concentrated on the tablet half of the system, however, the Spectre 13t-h200 x2 is a bit top-heavy when docked and used as a laptop.
The sleek aluminum construction is strong and lightweight, with the tablet weighing 2.2 pounds on its own, and 4.4 pounds with the keyboard. When docked, the Spectre 13t-h200 x2 is thin, measuring 0.7 by 13.4 by 7.2 inches (HWD), but it is noticeably heavier and thicker than its ultrabook sibling, the HP Spectre 13t-3000, which is 0.59-inch thick, and weighs 3.2 pounds. It also offers great sound, thanks to Beats Audio, with fuller sound than I'm used to hearing from a tablet.
The most surprising feature it has in common with the HP Envy X2, however, is the fanless design. The Spectre 13t-h200 x2 utilizes an Intel Core i5-4202Y, a variant on the standard low-voltage Core processor that doesn't require the same sort of cooling and ventilation seen in most ultrabooks. A similar processor is used in the Sony VAIO Tap 11. Knowing that heat buildup was still a concern, I periodically checked the temperature during testing, but the tablet never got warmer than 97 degrees Fahrenheit (as measured with a Fluke IR thermometer).
While the tablet half of the system houses the bulk of the hardware, it doesn't offer many ports. On the bottom edge of the Spectre 13t-h200 x2 is a power port, a headset jack, and a docking port. There's also a 128GB solid-state drive (SSD), which is large enough for thousands of photos and documents, but may fill up quickly if you save a lot of video and other media. To boost the local storage space, there is also a slot for a microSD card, letting you add in 32GB or 64GB of extra storage pretty easily. As mentioned earlier, on the back are buttons for Volume (just beneath the fingertips of the left hand) and Power (on the right).
The tablet also benefits from several mobile sensors, such as an accelerometer, gyroscope, e-compass (or magnetometer) and an integrated Near-Field Communication (NFC) sensor, for pairing NFC-enabled devices with just a tap. Unlike many tablets and detachable hybrids, the Spectre 13t-h200 x2 is only equipped with a front-facing camera (720p), and no rear-facing camera.
The docking keyboard offers both a small selection of full-size ports and a secondary battery, which extends the usable life of the tablet by an hour or two. On the right side are one USB 3.0 port, a headset jack, and a power connector (for plugging in the Spectre 13t-h200 x2 when in laptop mode). On the left is a second USB 3.0 port, along with HDMI output.
You'll notice that there is no Ethernet port listed on either the tablet or the docking keyboard. The device is Wi-Fi only, and can be configured with either single-band 802.11n Wi-Fi (as our review unit was), or dual-band 802.11AC, which is faster and offers better connectivity, but adds $20 to the total price of the device.
Windows 8.1 (64-bit) comes preinstalled, and is also preloaded with several apps and programs, such as Adobe Photoshop Lightroom (Version 5), McAfee LiveSafe security (free for one year), and 50GB of cloud storage through Box. HP covers the device with a one-year warranty on parts and labor.
The Spectre 13t-h200 x2 is outfitted with an Intel Core i5-4202Y processor—a 1.6GHz dual-core CPU designed for the tight environs and thermal constraints of a tablet—paired with 4GB of RAM. With the tablet-friendly processor, it doesn't quite measure up against full-fledged ultrabooks in terms of performance. In PCMark 7 the Spectre 13t x2 scored 4,035 points, falling behind the likes of the Acer Aspire S7-392-6411 (4,816 points) and the Editors' Choice for ultrabooks, the Samsung ATIV Book 9 Plus (4,907 points). The capabilities of the specialized processor are substantially less than a standard Core i5 CPU—the Spectre 13t-h200 x2 scored only 1.70 points in Cinebench, the similarly equipped Sony Tap 11 scored 1.39 points, and the competing ultrabooks all scored 2.40 points or better.
Using the Intel HD Graphics 4400 integrated graphics, the Spectre 13t-h200 x2 is more than adequate for moderately demanding graphics processing tasks, like streaming video online and rendering websites. As indicated by 3DMark 11 scores of 477 points (at Entry settings) and 161 points (at Extreme setting), you won't be gaming on the hybrid ultrabook, which is expected, but you also won't be able to do much in the way of photo editing or similar graphics-intensive tasks.
We tested the battery life of the Spectre 13t-h200 x2 twice, once with the tablet alone, and then again when connected to the docking keyboard with its second battery. In our rundown battery test, the tablet alone lasted 5 hours 45 minutes, falling well short of long-lasting competitors, such as the Samsung ATIV Book 9 Plus (8:15) and the Acer Aspire S7-392-6411 (8:22). While it couldn't match full-fledged ultrabooks, the Spectre 13t x2 is competitive against similar hybrid devices, like the Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 2 Pro (5:42) and the Sony VAIO Tap 11 (3:55). The second battery in the docking keyboard added an hour and a half to the total usable life of the battery, extending the time to 7:15 in the same rundown test. Even with both batteries, the Spectre 13t x2 fell short of the eight-plus hours offered by every comparable ultrabook, making it clear that you sacrifice more than performance when switching to the detachable design.
The benefits of the HP Spectre 13t-h200 x2 over similarly priced ultrabooks start and end with the two-piece detachable tablet design. As a laptop, the performance is lackluster, and the battery life is somehwat subpar; as a Windows tablet, however, the Spectre 13T-h200 x2 is a solid choice. If you need a well-made, decent-performing Windows tablet, then it's worth considering, but it doesn't hold up well when weighed against other leading ultrabooks, like the Editors' Choice Samsung ATIV Book 9 Plus.