Review: HP Spectre Fold is an amazing 3-in-1 laptop with an amazingly high price

The HP Spectre Fold in desktop mode.
The HP Spectre Fold in desktop mode. Photo credit: Newshub.

Foldable phones are increasingly popular, but the offering of screens that can fold into different shapes and sizes is quickly expanding beyond the realm of the handheld.

The HP Spectre Fold is a foldable laptop about to be released in Aotearoa that offers 3-in-1 versatility as not just a laptop, but a desktop, and also a tablet, too.

But the device costs a whopping $10,000. That's not a typo, it is actually launching with a price tag of ten thousand New Zealand dollars.

Is it worth such a high price, or is it just a pricey novelty?

I've been using the Spectre Fold for the past two weeks and here are my thoughts.

The good

It is genuinely amazing how well this works in its various formats, how convenient they are and how easy it is to switch between them.

It's also highly impressive how compact and light the package is, considering what it can do. HP is setting a fearsome high bar for competitors here when it comes to foldable laptops.

Calling it a 3-in-1 isn't completely accurate as there are more than the standard three formats to explore. When it's in 12.3-inch standard laptop mode, you can pull the wireless keyboard toward you and it'll click into place to give an extended screen - another 1.5-inches before the fold.

I also used it as essentially two tablets by propping it up and using the stylus on one half while watching an instructional drawing video on the other, with it folded just a little.

It's delightful finding different ways to use it and how those just would not be possible with any other laptop or tablet - let alone desktop - on the market.

The HP Spectre Fold in tablet mode.
The HP Spectre Fold in tablet mode. Photo credit: Newshub.

Then the OLED screen itself makes for a gorgeous display for whatever you do on this sort of screen, but especially for watching video. The full tablet is a whopping 17-inches, which is huge as a video monitor for when I'm using it how I normally do tablets - often in bed.

The display is IMAX Enhanced certified and thanks to the super fast 6.3 Wi-Fi support, this will stream video in awesomely high definition that is wonderful to watch, even without 4K capabilities.

Specs-wise, this is far from the most powerful machine out there, but it runs absolutely fine for standard day-to-day PC stuff. The main specs are:

  • Windows 11
  • Intel Core i7-1250U CPU
  • 16 GB LPDDR5-5200 MHz RAM
  • 1 TB PCIe Gen4 NVMe TLC M.2 SSD
  • Intel Iris Xe graphics
  • 2560x1920 display

That all adds up to not much to talk about in terms of performance, really. It does standard stuff fine, but I wouldn't want to run the latest games in ultra mode on it, for example. This device isn't for that.

The 'desktop' mode is probably what surprised me the most with how well it works. The screen has a built-in kickstand that'll prop it up anywhere and use the keyboard wirelessly.

This is an awesome monitor with a very small footprint - I reckon it'd work on a tray table in economy class even, whereas a 16 or even 15-inch laptop can struggle to fit on those.

And how the screen automatically adjusts between each mode as you transition through them never stops being impressive. Honestly, it is amazing.

The bad

That price is crazy high and is far too much to pay for this laptop if you don't really, really want the folding aspect.

If you're a creative professional and have that sort of capital for a work laptop, $10,000 worth of MacBook Pro would do you so much better. If you're a serious gamer, spending several thousand on the best spec PC laptop is the way to go.

You could buy a decent gaming laptop and have enough change from $10,000 to get a useable second hand car, or maybe even a return airfare to LA.

It's just so much money to spend on a laptop - but then this is not just a laptop. More on that point soon, but even if you do want a foldable laptop and are willing to pay for this one, there are still a few little issues with this one.

After using plenty of Apple devices for a while, it's always a little bit of a shock how initial start and setup often isn't as smooth on Windows or Android devices. It's not one account you're logging into, or one update to get it all cranking, there are a few to get through of each.

I think I accidentally ticked the box for 'free" McAfree software, which meant I got some bloatware and accompanying advert emails for it too.

There are only two ports on this and they're not beside each other, which seems weird but actually makes sense as it means one will be by a bottom corner of the screen in each mode. They're both Thunderbolt ports, so that's how you recharge the battery, too.

Thankfully a hub comes in the box that has two USB-A ports, a USB-C port and an HDMI port on it. If you want to plug in anything else you'll need an additional hub, but it's great this one is included.

The HP Spectre Fold in laptop mode.
The HP Spectre Fold in laptop mode. Photo credit: Newshub.

The speakers are a little underwhelming. They're fine for video conferencing and little videos where sound quality doesn't matter, but if you're watching a movie or listening to music you'll want to use headphones or an external speaker.

In future iterations I'd also like to see spec options rather than the one-size-fits-all thing they're doing here, and 4K support would be better on this big old screen than 1080p.

But for me the worst thing about this device is the confidence I have in its longevity, or lack thereof. Of course I'm confident HP has made a durable, high-quality product; but the standard one year warranty is something I'd consider a serious issue.

I've used a bunch of different foldable phones over the past few years and there is always at least a perceived flimsiness to them that this laptop also has. It just feels like it would be relatively easy to break, and I've been constantly thinking about its price tag.

Sure, anyone buying one will have contents insurance that would cover most accidents, but what if the hinge stuffs out two years down the track not by accident? How costly would it be to repair that? How about the screen? If you're out of warranty and something goes bung in the brains of it - are you then ready to fork out another $10k on a replacement?

I don't have answers for these questions, really, but they're concerns I'd investigate before purchasing. PB Tech is listing the product in Aotearoa currently with a one-year manufacturer's warranty and you can buy a care plan for up to three years from HP for yet more money. But for a generation one foldable device this costly, I would want more than one year as the standard warranty for the investment it requires.

The verdict

While there's no getting over how costly this is as a laptop, it's not quite as insane if you think of it as a laptop, a desktop and a tablet - three devices, rather than one.

Spending $3300 on each of those might get you a sum of parts greater than this whole, but it would not give the significant convenience and wow factor of this all-in-one.

The HP Spectre Fold represents an exciting taste of the future as foldable devices like this are almost certain to become much more popular.

If you're after a portable PC with an incredible display and more versatility than anything else on the market right now, and you can afford its huge asking price, this is a brilliant product.

Just make sure you have it insured.

Newshub was supplied a HP Spectre Fold for this review.