The HP Spectre Foldable PC is one of those rare systems that comes across our test bench maybe once or twice a year promising a genuinely different take on the well-established laptop. In this case, it’s so much more than a simple laptop, or even a convertible 2-in-1, since HP pitches it as a 3-in-1 PC. With an expansive 17-inch OLED display that can fold down the middle, this one machine can be a 12.3-inch laptop, a 17-inch tablet, or even a portable desktop with a kickstand. With touch and pen support and included accessories like a Bluetooth keyboard and pen, this eye-popping and versatile machine has plenty going for it. Unfortunately, the price is sky high—a double-take-inducing $4,999.99—and the device’s coolest new features also come with some major drawbacks. What we see in the Spectre Foldable PC is an intriguing showpiece from HP, living up to the company’s Readers’ Choice accolades for 2-in-1 laptops, but it’s not a system we can recommend you buy at the current pricing.
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Setting the Stage: The Folding Theory
I once had an off-the-record conversation with an Intel executive (whose name I’ve long since forgotten), who flat-out told me that the future of personal computing was a single device that could fold or unfold to function as your phone, your tablet, your laptop, or your desktop. This conversation took place almost a decade ago, as manufacturers were just figuring out practical ways to make 2-in-1 laptop designs feasibly transition between laptop and tablet modes, and the idea seemed kind of silly in its sci-fi ambitions but at once almost achievable.
Since then, it’s been interesting to watch manufacturers lurch forward in fits and starts of innovation, trying to get closer to this imagined “everything” device. With HP’s new 3-in-1 design, we’re perhaps closer than we’ve ever been but still a long way off from that foldable, pocketable dream machine.
(Credit: Joseph Maldonado)
The HP Spectre Foldable is the latest PC product brought to market that’s clearly based on Intel’s Project Horseshoe, which laid out this exact folding laptop/tablet concept back in 2020. The center of this proof of concept was a hinge that could bend a flexible OLED panel into a U-shape. Despite the “foldable” name, these folding OLEDs don’t literally fold—they bend. They have to maintain a specific radius in that “horseshoe” bend in order to keep working because anything tighter (let alone a creased fold) would break the panel and permanently damage the display.
As a result, the HP Spectre Fold, like the Asus Zenbook 17 Fold OLED before it, is a bendy screen with a gap when closed. The question is whether it manages to fill any figurative gaps in your computing needs and whether that funky folding design is worth the extra money.
The Design: One Device, Three Modes (or Was It Four?)
The HP Spectre Foldable is billed as a 3-in-1 device, including functions for a 12.3-inch laptop, a 17-inch tablet, and a 17-inch portable desktop. But HP actually snuck a fourth mode into the mix, with a middle option for laptop users that repositions the included keyboard accessory to reveal an extra portion of the bottom screen that’s sort of like the Asus ROG Zephyrus Duo 16 (2023) but not quite as large for the extra screen space.
(Credit: Joseph Maldonado)
These different modes are thanks to the design, which bends a 17-inch OLED panel in half and pairs it with a slim Bluetooth keyboard that magnetically sticks itself to the other half of the screen to give you an experience similar to using a clamshell laptop.
This keyboard can actually shift to a second position in laptop mode, giving you what HP calls an “Expanded 1.5 Screen” that reveals a bit more of the bottom display, or it can peel off completely to open the display out to a full 17-inch tablet. If you want to use that 17-inch tablet as a sort of all-in-one desktop, you can prop it up using a built-in kickstand that sets the screen upright at a comfortable 120-degree angle.
With all of these options for folding and unfolding, or sticking and unsticking the accessory keyboard and pen, you do, in fact, get the option to switch among a compact laptop form factor, an oversized tablet, or a surprisingly portable desktop-like experience.
(Credit: Joseph Maldonado)
The Problem With Folding Screens
However, the issue with any folding screen—or at least every single folding screen I’ve ever encountered—is that the fold visibly disrupts the display panel. No matter how clever you get with the hinge, or how bendy and resilient the OLED manufacturer claims the flexible panel to be, some slight warping at the bend is unavoidable. Fold it closed, and it’s more or less fine, but open it up and it never manages to be perfectly flat again. You’ll notice a stripe of distortion running through the middle of the screen for as long as the device lasts—and it doesn’t get better over time. Instead the constant opening and closing further stresses the plastic films that the OLED is printed on, and it slowly degrades.
When the display is on and glowing, this warping is less noticeable. But it never quite goes away, and it’s impossible to ignore when the display is off, as reflections on the panel surface highlight the bend even more. It doesn’t just look different, it looks concerning, and that impression isn’t improved when you pick up the 17-inch tablet and feel it flex ever so slightly in the wrong direction. Because of the folding screen, the Spectre is just not as solid or secure as a regular laptop or tablet.
Detailing HP’s Impressive Engineering
Despite this, it’s also true that HP’s engineering and design teams clearly went to great lengths to try and fix this problem, and it is quite impressive how far they have come. The slim chassis measures just 0.33 inch thick in tablet mode, giving it a surprisingly reasonable weight for a giant 17-inch tablet.
(Credit: Joseph Maldonado)
Inside, the frame has been reinforced with metal plates to reduce flexing, and the U-shaped bend is supported by a complex hinge that’s made to cradle the 5mm bend when folded closed but also open flat, providing stability when open at 180 degrees. But if you’re used to the satisfyingly solid feel of an iPad in your hands, then this won’t feel the same. Instead, it feels more like a laptop opened up as far as it will go, with the hinges opened out to the point that any extra pressure might break something. Indeed, to my hands, holding the 17-inch tablet is a little nerve-wracking. (This might explain why most of the marketing images HP provided to the press show the tablet laid out flat on a table.)
HP also put an entirely original internal design together for this system. The battery is actually two cells, with one inside each half of the device and connected across, which combine to provide the power of a single 93-watt-hour battery. The dual battery design keeps the weight even across the two halves of the folding chassis. HP has also strategically placed the controller board along the top and bottom edges of the machine if viewed in laptop mode. (They’re on the right and left edges in desktop mode.) This is meant to protect the delicate board and keep it as far from the flexing stress point as the system opens and closes.
However, the tablet mode is the weakest point in this multimode design, and both the desktop and laptop modes are more satisfying and more comfortable. On the back of the 17-inch tablet is a narrow kickstand that flips out to prop up the display like an external monitor. Compared with the wide kickstand on the Asus Zenbook 17 Fold OLED, this skinny foot doesn’t seem like it would provide as much stability, but the desktop mode was surprisingly free of any wobbling or tipping when propped up, thanks in part to subtle rubbery grips along the bottom edge in desktop mode.
(Credit: Joseph Maldonado)
But the real star of the show is laptop mode—or, more accurately, the multiple laptop modes. You can use the folded display with the keyboard on top, pushed flush against the fold for a traditional clamshell experience, or slide it halfway down the folded screen for that Expanded 1.5 Screen mode. The magnetically attached keyboard hangs halfway off the laptop, bending at a seam that puts the palmrest and touchpad at a pleasing angle.
One cool trick that the Spectre Foldable has is that it can turn off the portions of the screen that are covered, using internal sensors and the magnetic keyboard attachment to register which parts of the display are covered. The interface then resizes the display area to just the uncovered portion, whether that’s one-half in the laptop mode, the extended laptop screen mode, or the full panel.
You can even pull the keyboard off entirely, but leave the laptop folded, giving you a dual-screen layout across the top and bottom. Or, if you’re looking more for a side-by-side setup, you can turn the folded tablet on its side like a book, but the narrow halves don’t leave enough room for more than scrolling a news feed or watching TikToks.
(Credit: Joseph Maldonado)
We found one more unexpected quirk of the multimode design: Laptop mode only works one way. One half is the designated “screen” portion, where the webcam is set into the bezel. You can get the keyboard to stick to the other side with its magnetic positioning, but it doesn’t do the covered screen trick or reorient the top and bottom of the display. That’s awkward enough for day-to-day use, but it also means that the keyboard will always magnetically latch to the same half of the screen. It will slide into different positions on only that half of the screen. This may eventually show as wear and tear or scuffing on the bezel from that repetitive attaching and repositioning of the keyboard on just that side of the screen.
On the whole, the 3-in-1 hybrid design feels like a collection of solutions in search of problems. The laptop mode works best as a regular laptop, because the extended 1.5 screen mode doesn’t leave much room for the extra portion of screen to be useful for anything. HP has expanded on the Windows Snap utility to position windows above and below the fold, but it’s not as simple to use as the Windows version alone, and actually moving windows from one part of the screen to another isn’t intuitive to me. Trying something as simple as full-screen video can go wrong in several different ways, as the system often winds up putting the video across a fold.
The desktop mode is probably the best of the bunch in terms of being straightforward and simple, but it comes with its own quirks. The webcam that was properly positioned above the display in laptop mode is now on the side bezel in desktop mode. Also, the oddly placed Thunderbolt 4 ports—which I’ll detail later—are positioned so that only one is convenient at any given time, regardless of the use mode.
Using the HP Spectre Foldable PC
Obviously, the standout feature of the Spectre Foldable is the magnesium chassis and folding display design, but you have more to consider on this device than most any other PC.
The 3-in-1 functionality means that the dimensions are markedly different depending on what mode you have the Spectre in. Opened up to full tablet or desktop size, the Spectre Foldable measures 0.33 by 14.8 by 10.9 inches and weighs 2.99 pounds. That’s just enough for a comfortable desktop experience, but it’s way too big for a comfortable tablet to carry and hold. This is more of a tablet you’ll want to lay flat on the table.
(Credit: Joseph Maldonado)
But that’s drastically different in size from the compact package you get when the PC is folded closed, measuring 0.84 by 10.9 by 7.5 inches, and weighing 3.58 pounds with the included keyboard and pen attached. That’s a lot easier to carry around or slip into a bag.
HP has built in a super cool trick for both the keyboard and pen: Wireless induction coils inside charge the devices whenever they’re magnetically docked on the machine. For the pen, that means it will charge whenever it’s not being used, so it’s always ready when you grab it. The keyboard, on the other hand, charges whenever it’s magnetically docked in laptop mode, so it will top up the battery as it’s used. However, HP includes a charging cable for the keyboard, since it’s possible you might run down the keyboard battery while using the system in desktop mode, which can’t possibly charge the keyboard otherwise.
(Credit: Joseph Maldonado)
The keyboard provides a surprisingly robust and stable typing experience for being wafer-thin and hinged in the middle. I was expecting extra-shallow keystrokes and the sort of barely-there design that you’d get from most 2-in-1 tablet keyboard covers, but this was much closer in quality to a standard laptop keyboard. The touchpad, which uses a mechanical click instead of a haptic touchpad, was even more satisfying. The result is a surprisingly robust feel while tapping and swiping.
Thanks to a quartet of Bang & Olufsen speakers positioned around the edges of the display, HP’s audio is impressive here, too. The every-edge-has-a-speaker approach means that you’ll get decent sound whether using it as a laptop, a tablet, or a desktop.
Of course, the display is more than just a fancy folder. The OLED panel achieves 99.9% DCI-P3 color coverage and features IMAX Enhanced certification for HDR and color, meaning that it looks well-lit and vibrant at any angle and in any lighting. Our brightness test registered 396 nits of brightness for normal content, but HP claims up to 500 nits for HDR content.
The built-in webcam shoots 5-megapixel images, and it includes both IR for Windows Hello and a physical privacy shutter with a hard switch. HP’s video controls add visual enhancements like background blur and filters. In my time with the system, the camera’s video always looked sharp and detailed with lifelike color.
My biggest issue with the camera isn’t the camera at all, but its position. In laptop mode, it’s centered over the display, but in desktop mode, it’s way over on the left bezel, and the camera orientation doesn’t rotate as you shift from laptop to tablet or desktop modes, making desktop webcam use look like vertical video shot on a phone, and that with the additional irritation of being way off center. If it had a wider angle in desktop mode, it might be less of a problem. But the narrow image and off-center position meant that, when sitting dead center in front of the 17-inch screen, less than half of my face was visible on-camera.
An Oddly Placed Duo of Ports
Another gripe is the port selection. To keep things ultra-thin and avoid the complication of the different user modes, the Spectre Foldable only has two ports, a pair of Thunderbolt 4/USB-C connections. This avoids the thickness that would be needed for something like USB-A or HDMI, and you’d think it would side-step the trouble of having ports on one side of the chassis in laptop mode, and a different part of the machine in desktop or tablet modes.
(Credit: Joseph Maldonado)
In fact, HP positioned the two Thunderbolt ports (which double as charging ports for the system), so that one is always located near a bottom corner of the screen. That’s handy for powering the Spectre in laptop or desktop mode but it’s a lot less convenient if you need to also plug in an external drive, because the second port is now also always at the top of the display regardless of which mode it’s in. HP smartly included a port adapter, which gives you USB, USB 3.0 and HDMI, as well as power pass-thru, but it has no additional USB-C connection, and nothing like a card slot or Ethernet connection.
The Spectre Foldable PC has Wi-Fi 6E for networking and Bluetooth 5.3 for connecting the keyboard and pen. You’ll also need it for connecting speakers or headphones, since you’ll find no audio jack on the machine, an omission that makes me grumble every time.
Configurations: No Options, Big Price
Finally, it’s worth pointing out that the HP Spectre Foldable PC only comes in one configuration: A 17-inch model with an Intel Core i7-1250U processor, Intel Iris Xe graphics, 16GB of RAM, and a full terabyte of SSD storage.
You’ll find no options for extra storage or memory, no choices in CPU or GPU, and no budget configurations. And boy, do I wish a budget option was available, because the price on this system is absurd at $4,999.99.
(Credit: Joseph Maldonado)
That’s $1,500 costlier than the Asus Zenbook 17 Fold OLED’s $3,499 price, which we called “painfully expensive.” It’s legitimately expensive enough that you could pick up a tablet, laptop, and desktop PC for the price of this 3-in-1 machine, but that’s not even the worst part: It comes with a mere one-year warranty.
This is one of the biggest deal-breakers when considering this entire machine, because so many key pieces of it—the folding OLED panel, the folding Bluetooth keyboard, and the spindly fold-out kickstand—are possible points of failure that will be bent and flexed again and again. The screen bezel, too, may get scuffed from the shifting keyboard, the magnetically stored pen can only hold a charge so many times, and the screen may eventually warp and distort after thousands of repeated folds.
This is not a system I would want to use without a warranty long-term, but just 12 months is what you’ll have. That’s quite the risk to take for five grand.
Testing the HP Spectre Foldable PC: Versatile, But Needs More Vim
Because the Spectre Foldable is a niche device, our selection of comparison products is eclectic. Obviously, we’ve compared it with the two most similar competing systems, the Asus Zenbook 17 Fold OLED and the dual-screen Lenovo Yoga Book 9i, two different approaches to the all-screen concept. The Asus uses a similar folding OLED panel, while the Yoga Book joins two OLED touch screens with a more traditional 2-in-1 hinge mechanism.
Then we have the other systems we compared against. We start with the HP Envy x360 13.3 (2022). In size it’s close to the Spectre in laptop mode, and features nearly identical components, with the same processor and graphics as well as similar allotments of memory and storage. If you’re most interested in the Spectre Foldable as a compact laptop, this is our closest match.
Then we looked at our favorite OLED-equipped 2-in-1, the Lenovo Yoga 9i Gen 8. It may only have one non-folding screen, but with the gorgeous panel, well-made convertible design for laptop and tablet use, and support for an included pen, it brings a lot of the flexibility that the Spectre Fold promises in a less experimental form.
Finally, if the Spectre Foldable’s 17-inch desktop mode catches your eye, we compared it with our favorite 17-inch model, the Dell XPS 17 (9730). And we didn’t skimp on the budget or features—the Dell is the closest in price to the HP Spectre Foldable. It’s still a lot cheaper than the Spectre, but the Dell includes a discrete Nvidia RTX 4070 laptop GPU, as well as a more powerful Intel Core i7-13700H processor. The point of this comparison isn’t even really about the screen size. It’s actually to illustrate the sort of power you can get in a traditional 17-inch machine.
The end result is a batch of comparisons that illustrate exactly what you get with the HP Spectre Foldable, both the good and the bad.
Productivity and Content Creation Tests
We run the same general productivity benchmarks across both mobile and desktop systems. Our first test is UL’s PCMark 10, which simulates a variety of real-world productivity and office workflows to measure overall system performance and also includes a storage subtest for the primary drive.
Our other three benchmarks focus on the CPU, using all available cores and threads, to rate a PC’s suitability for processor-intensive workloads. Maxon’s Cinebench R23 uses that company’s Cinema 4D engine to render a complex scene, while Geekbench 5.4 Pro from Primate Labs simulates popular apps ranging from PDF rendering and speech recognition to machine learning. Finally, we use the open-source video transcoder HandBrake 1.4 to convert a 12-minute video clip from 4K to 1080p resolution (lower times are better).
Finally, we run PugetBench for Photoshop by workstation maker Puget Systems, which uses the Creative Cloud version 22 of Adobe’s famous image editor to rate a PC’s performance for content creation and multimedia applications. It’s an automated extension that executes a variety of general and GPU-accelerated Photoshop tasks ranging from opening, rotating, resizing, and saving an image to applying masks, gradient fills, and filters.
When it comes to performance, I was most surprised to see that the HP Spectre Foldable managed to mostly outpace the Asus Zenbook 17 Fold OLED, which was surprising given that they use the same CPU. (Yes, that’s right, HP’s much more expensive folding OLED uses the same hardware as last year’s cheaper folding OLED.) But the margins between the two were quite narrow, and while both cleared the 4,000 point threshold for excellent productivity use, they fell well behind every other machine we compared them with.
The biggest difference was seen in Cinebench R23, where the HP Spectre Foldable scored thousands of points behind the HP Envy X360 13.3 (2022), which uses the same CPU. This is likely due to the natural thermal constraints of the all-screen design limiting output of the processor whereas traditional laptops have much more room for cooling hardware inside. Compared with a true 17-inch (but substantially cheaper) OLED laptop, like the Dell XPS 17 9730, the HP Spectre Foldable delivered barely a third of the performance in the same test.
We test the graphics inside all laptops and desktops with two DirectX 12 gaming simulations from UL’s 3DMark, Night Raid (more modest, suitable for laptops with integrated graphics) and Time Spy (more demanding, suitable for gaming rigs with discrete GPUs).
To further measure GPUs, we also run two tests from the cross-platform GPU benchmark GFXBench 5, which stresses both low-level routines like texturing and high-level, game-like image rendering. The 1440p Aztec Ruins and 1080p Car Chase tests, rendered offscreen to accommodate different display resolutions, exercise graphics and compute shaders using the OpenGL programming interface and hardware tessellation respectively. The more frames per second (fps), the better.
Armed with Intel’s integrated Iris Xe graphics, the HP Spectre Foldable was never going to be a graphics powerhouse, certainly not when compared with a GPU-packing machine like the Dell XPS 17. But, even among other similarly equipped systems, the Spectre Fold fell flat.
Whether it was the low-powered 3DMark Night Raid test, the super-basic GFXBench Car Chase, or any of our other non-gaming graphics tests, the HP Spectre Foldable and Asus Zenbook 17 Fold OLED swapped back and forth between last and next-to-last position. This system will do just fine for tasks like video streaming and even some light photo editing, but for anything more demanding, you’ll either want a proper laptop or an actual desktop.
This was highlighted by how resoundingly the XPS 17 trounced everything else in our graphics tests, scoring hundreds of points where everything else scored dozens. And, in this rarified price zone, you really should enjoy more power than integrated graphics can provide.
Battery and Display Tests
We test each laptop and tablet’s battery life by playing a locally stored 720p video file (the open-source Blender movie Tears of Steel) with display brightness at 50% and audio volume at 100%. We make sure the battery is fully charged before the test, with Wi-Fi and keyboard backlighting turned off.
However, we had to slightly modify the test for the HP Spectre Foldable, since it has no headphone jack and we usually use a patch cable or wired earbuds during this test, we ran the same test at 10% speaker volume and found the results to be within the expected range. But that does introduce one more caveat: We test laptops in airplane mode, but the wireless keyboard on the HP Spectre Foldable is also a Bluetooth accessory, so our testing might not exactly replicate the laptop experience.
We also use a Datacolor SpyderX Elite monitor calibration sensor and software to measure a laptop screen’s color saturation—what percentage of the sRGB, Adobe RGB, and DCI-P3 color gamuts or palettes the display can show—and its 50% and peak brightness in nits (candelas per square meter).
As you can see in the charts, the Spectre Foldable posted above-average brightness for an OLED as well as broad but not perfect color coverage.
With its split 93Whr battery, the HP Spectre Foldable did show lengthy battery life. In laptop mode, it lasted an impressive 14 hours and 1 minute. (We tested in each of the 3-in-1 modes, which we’ll discuss in a moment.) That easily outpaced all of the smaller laptops and competing foldables, and was within five minutes of the Lenovo Yoga 9i Gen 8’s time. To get all-day battery life in a compact laptop while still having the option of using it as a tablet or desktop is pretty impressive.
But laptop mode isn’t the only way to use the HP Spectre Fold. And, because the machine will black out parts of the OLED display to save power when the keyboard is placed over part of the screen, we wanted to see how battery life changed with the different keyboard and display options. So, we tested it in laptop mode, and again with the extended 1.5 screen mode, as well as the full tablet/desktop mode that uses the entire 17-inch display.
This is where we got the best surprise from the Spectre Foldable: The differences among these different modes was less than 30 minutes of uptime. You can get 13-plus hours of use out the machine in any mode you choose, which is a pleasant and impressive surprise.
(Credit: Joseph Maldonado)
Verdict: A Cool Idea With Considerable Compromises
The HP Spectre Foldable PC is a novel product, showing off some impressive engineering. However, with so many drawbacks, it feels like it’s still an experiment that can technically pass for a finished product. The 3-in-1 design is versatile and interesting—who wouldn’t want a compact 12-inch laptop that doubles as a fully functional desktop with a 17-inch screen?—but we see way too many wrinkles to iron out before this becomes a product we can recommend. From the warping of the folding screen to the awkwardly positioned webcam and ports, not to mention the disappointing performance from older hardware inside, we just don’t see enough here to back up the wow factor of the folding design. That’s a real shame, because the idea is such a welcome attempt to redefine or influence the standard laptop template.
But the killing blow for this system isn’t the quirky feature set or the unsteady feel of the design. It’s the price. At $4,999.99, it’s astonishingly expensive, especially when you start thinking about last year’s early competitor from Asus: Essentially the same product, right down to the CPU, but it managed to be much more affordable. Then to pair the exorbitant price with a paltry one-year warranty doesn’t fill us with confidence in a machine with several potential unique wear points that other 2-in-1 models don’t have.
If more screen space and unusual use modes are what you’re after, we recommend the Lenovo Yoga Book 9i. It has a similar all-OLED setup and an equally versatile range of modes. However, it skips the folding OLED panel in favor of a sturdy convertible hinge between the screens, and that two-screen approach is likely to allow for more durability (not to mention its better performance). It’s also less than half the price, which is why the Yoga Book 9i is our Editors’ Choice for twin-screen machines, and the HP Spectre Foldable PC is just a fun bragging-rights product for people with money to burn.
Innovative 3-in-1 folding OLED design
Excellent keyboard and pen included
Bright, vivid OLED display with full audio to match
Impressive battery life in all screen modes
Like What You’re Reading?
Folding displays look funny and get worse with age
Flimsy hinge doesn’t feel stable
Awkward webcam and port placement
Short 1-year warranty
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