“$5,000?!” I couldn’t believe my eyes when I first saw the price tag on the Spectre Fold. With that money, I could buy an Apple Vision Pro, an iPhone 15, and a Google Pixel 8 — and still have some money left in the bank.
On top of that, the Spectre Fold has underpowered internals that make it slower than Apple’s M1 MacBook Air — and that laptop came out three years ago.
However, the more time I spend with the Spectre Fold, the more I understand the method of HP’s madness. This is, after all, HP’s first foldable PC — a three-in-one PC at that. You’re not paying for one laptop. You are, instead, paying for three computing solutions all at once: a gigantic tablet, a portable clamshell notebook, and a massive 17-inch portable monitor.
“I can buy all three of these and still pay less than $5,000” you may argue. You’re right, but the big draw of this three-in-one PC is exactly that — it’s a deceptive 12.3-inch laptop that can transform into a massive 17-inch desktop experience in seconds.
But of course, the Spectre Fold isn’t all rainbows, unicorns, and sprinkles — read on to find out about its quirks and idiosyncrasies that took me aback.
HP Spectre Fold price and specs
The Spectre Fold HP sent Mashable the following specs:
Intel Core i7-1250U CPU
Intel Iris Xe graphics
16GB of RAM
1TB of SSD storage
Windows 11 Home
2560 x 1920-pixel display
This is the only configuration you can get. And as mentioned, it’s $4,999. No, I’m not kidding. You can find it at Best Buy.
What I love about the HP Spectre Fold
“Whoa!” My dad, who is rarely impressed, exclaimed after stumbling upon the HP Spectre Fold while I was testing it.
There it was — in all of its glory — the Spectre Fold as a 17-inch desktop experience with a detachable keyboard and stylus. It goes without saying that the Spectre Fold, showcasing peak innovation, will seduce anyone with its contortionist-esque flexibility.
Forget 3-in-1 — it’s more like a 5-in-1
The HP Spectre Fold is an innovative, avant-garde masterpiece. As mentioned at the outset, the HP Spectre Fold can fool anyone. It can be sitting on your desk looking like nothing more than a 12.3-inch clamshell laptop.
You can also yank the keyboard a little bit further down the “deck,” which adds an extra 1.5-inch screen that sits before the keyboard.
But then, you can remove the Bluetooth keyboard, revealing a monster 17-inch, 2560 x 1920-pixel OLED display that you can prop up with a built-in kickstand. This posture is perfect for drawing and sketching — trust me, I’ve tried it.
Next, you can place the keyboard in front of it, and voila, you’ve got yourself the ultimate portable desktop experience.
But wait — there’s more! You can put the keyboard aside and enjoy a massive 17-inch tablet that will provide gigantic screen real estate for long-form articles.
Where's the crease?
The star attraction of foldable PCs is the bendy-screen illusion, which the Spectre Fold does well.
Yes, I can still see a crease that divides the top and bottom screens, but it’s barely there. When I run my finger over it, it’s almost non-existent.
A multitasking marvel
As we speak, I must have innumerable tabs open on my Google Chrome window. Whether I’m using the Spectre Fold as a 12.3-inch notebook or a towering 17-inch monitor, I had a blast leveraging Windows 11’s Snap Layouts feature to divide my screen into four quadrants.
As a laptop reviewer, this is nirvana for me. For example, on the top-left quadrant, I can a press-release video of the Spectre Fold for reference. On the top-right, I can have a Google Sheet of my benchmark results. On the bottom left, I can have a Google Doc open where I can type my review. And on the bottom right, to keep me focused, I can play some atmospheric music from Spotify.
The app juggling on the HP Spectre Fold is wild!
The stylus has more than one home
The HP Spectre Fold ships with a stylus, and you can house it in two places: the edge of the keyboard or on the right side of the display. However, it can only charge while it’s docked on the keyboard. According to HP, this is possible thanks to wireless induction coils placed inside.
In other words, when you’re ready to use the pen, it should be all charged up and ready to go after it’s been docked for a while.
The keyboard charges while it’s magnetically stationed on the Spectre Fold in clamshell mode, but there may be times when the keyboard is detached from its dock (e.g., desktop mode). In this case, you’ll be relieved to know that the Spectre Fold ships with a charging cable for the keyboard in case you run down the battery.
According to HP, the pen delivers a 70-hour runtime while the keyboard offers a whopping 360 hours on a single charge.
The keyboard is divine
I’m typing this very section on the Spectre Fold’s keyboard – and let me tell you – my fingers are flying right now.
HP is known for making fan-freakin’-tastic keyboards (I still praise ‘em for the ultra-clicky keys on the 2021 Envy 13), but I was taken aback by the springy bounce-back I experienced while typing on the HP Spectre Fold’s detachable keyboard.
On my daily driver laptop, the 14-inch MacBook Pro, I hit 82 words per minute (WPM) with an accuracy rate of 97% on the LiveChat typing speed test.
On the HP Spectre Fold, on the other hand, I hit a whopping 87 wpm with a 98% accuracy rate – that’s speedier than what I can do on my own MacBook. This just goes to show you how “at home” I am with this keyboard.
The HP Spectre Fold has decent battery life
The HP Spectre Fold has two things against it when it comes to power efficiency: its touchscreen and massive 17-inch panel. As you’ll see in the battery life section, the HP Spectre Fold exceeded my expectations.
No, it doesn’t come close to the power efficiency of MacBooks (HP wishes!), and its battery life won’t blow anyone away, but it managed to last longer than I thought.
What’s ‘eh’ about the HP Spectre Fold?
The HP Spectre Fold has a quad-speaker Bang & Olufsen setup positioned around the edges of the display. After firing up a few Spotify songs, I’m on the fence about how I feel about it.
The speakers are OK
The quartet of speakers sounded like pure honey to my ears when I played JVKE’s “Golden Hour.” The romantic and soulful song sounded smooth and soulful, tickling my ears with a full, well-rounded, and lush melody.
However, when I played songs with more bass (tunes that are more up-tempo), the speakers lacked depth and richness, particularly when the rhythmic beats kicked in.
Ports are in odd places, but I can manage
As a laptop that’s designed to transform into a handful of postures, I’d be hypercritical and nitpicky if I demanded that the HP Spectre Fold have a healthy variety of ports. To preserve its flexibility and slim form, the Spectre Fold is naturally scant on I/O options.
The HP Spectre Fold, similar to the likes of the 15-inch MacBook Air, only has two Thunderbolt 4 ports. This doesn’t bother me, but they are placed in untraditional positions. For example, when the HP Spectre Fold is in clamshell mode, you’ll find one port on the top-left corner and another on the bottom-right corner. If you want to charge the laptop while you’re sitting on desk, you may find that the charging cable gets in the way.
What I dislike about the HP Spectre Fold
Foldables tend to be buggy. Whether it’s Lenovo’s ThinkPad X1 Fold or the Microsoft Surface Duo, I’ve never had satisfactory experiences with foldable technologies. However, to my surprise, my experience with the Spectre Fold has been different – the UI is slick and responsive. Despite this, there’s one thing I can’t quite wrap my head around.
Why on earth does the HP Spectre Fold have an obsolete CPU?
Sorry HP, but the internals inside the Spectre Fold are obsolete – and you know it.
It’s packed with a 12th-generation i7-1250U CPU. Keep in mind that we are currently in the era of 13th-generation CPUs. I haven’t noticed any significant slowdowns while using the HP Spectre Fold, and luckily, it has just enough RAM (16GB) to handle my multitasking workflow. However, someone with a more demanding routine – someone who uses Photoshop or Illustrator for example – may find that this laptop lacks zippiness (and you’ll see why that is in the benchmarks section).
What is up with the webcam?
Most webcams reflect a mirror image of you – the same image you see when you look at a reflection. As such, the letters on your shirt may be flipped. However, the HP Spectre Fold is different. It shows a non-mirrored depiction of yourself, which is bizarre. When I lean right, the image of myself on the viewfinder leans left – and vice versa. So it looks like we’re leaning away from each other instead of in unison. It’s like watching your shadow, which has mimicked you all your life, have a life of its own. It's freaky!
Tablet mode is unwieldy
Don’t think you can use the HP Spectre Fold like an Amazon Kindle e-reader.
Remember – this is a 17-inch display. Don’t let its slimness fool you. It’s not light enough for you to enjoy reading in one hand for more than a few minutes.
You can only enjoy tablet mode while it’s lying on a table.
HP Spectre Fold Geekbench score
We tested the HP Spectre Fold on Geekbench 6, which tests overall processor performance, and it delivered a score of 7,491.
The M1 MacBook Air, which was released in 2020, has a far better multi-core score of 8,311. This goes to show you how unbelievably behind the Spectre Fold is in terms of performance.
HP Spectre Fold battery life
We ran the PCMark 10 mobile office battery life benchmark on the HP Spectre Fold; it lasted 9 hours and two minutes.
HP Spectre Fold webcam
The HP Spectre Fold has a 5-megapixel webcam, which is supposed to be a step up from the 720p and 1080p built-in shooters that plague the laptop market, but I can’t tell the difference between them.
The picture is oversaturated and there’s poor definition. However, most laptop webcams are awful, so this is nothing out of the ordinary.
While reviewing the HP Spectre Fold, I couldn’t help but wonder, “Who’s this laptop for?” Which crowd, besides the Jeff Bezos and Warren Buffetts of the world, does this $5,000 foldable gem cater to?
I’ve concluded that the Spectre Fold is for peripatetic artists and creatives who travel often. As a travel buff myself, I could totally see myself using the Spectre Fold in clamshell mode while I’m on the plane before unfolding it into its 17-inch display glory in my hotel room. And hell, if you're drawn to luxe tech (and you have the money to blow), you're another perfect candidate for the Spectre. You'll have people turning green with envy.