Reviews

HP Spectre X2 Review: Form over function?

It’s beautiful but there are some sacrifices

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Can a tablet actually replace your laptop? If it has a detachable keyboard, a couple of standard ports, good-sounding speakers, and runs a full version of Windows 10 with top-of-the-line specs packaged into a slim body, it could. Everything I mentioned is found on the HP Spectre X2. Although, the company doesn’t really market it towards power-hungry users, but rather to anyone who is looking for a new portable computer with style.

One of the best-looking PCs

When I first saw the Specter X2 in person, I thought that it’s probably the most handsome Windows 2-in-1 I’ve seen in a while. Who can blame me? After bringing it to the office and cafes, everyone around me stared at the Spectre X2 for a bit. The body of the device is crafted from a single piece of aluminum with a matte finish. My review unit comes in black with gold accents — a staple HP Spectre line color combination that looks elegant and sophisticated.

The new HP logo fits the Spectre X2’s body perfectly

The Spectre X2 is primarily a 12-inch tablet with a 3:2 aspect ratio and a pixel density of 293ppi. Its display is as sharp as a smartphone thanks to its high-resolution panel with 3000 x 2000 pixels.

Since it’s a tablet, it’s got to have a stand to make it usable on a desk. The device has a gold kickstand (not actual gold, of course) neatly tucked into the body of the tablet when not in use. Unlike with other similarly designed detachables though, the kickstand of the Spectre X2 is slim and looks like a jewelry accessory for the tablet due to its color.

The kickstand stays in its position thanks to its firm hinge, but it doesn’t prevent the tablet from sliding across the tablet since it has no rubber feet

There are two USB-C ports on both sides of the tablet; either can be used for charging the tablet, connect external displays, and attach peripherals with support for USB 3.1 speeds. The pin-ejectable microSD card slot and 3.5mm audio port are on the left while the volume keys are on the right. The power button sits lonely on the top side and there’s virtually nothing at the bottom — just the magnetic latch for the keyboard.

It’s best to work with the Spectre X2 on a table or a desk

Speaking of, the detachable keyboard also has an aluminum body and acts a protective cover for the tablet’s display when closed. It attaches magnetically to the slate and has two typing angles: flat and inclined. It has a white backlight to help while working in the dark and it’s a full-sized keyboard with function keys and shortcuts. If you’re familiar with HP’s island-style chiclet keys, you’ll feel at home. The glass trackpad is fairly smooth and responsive even with multi-finger gestures, but it doesn’t use Windows Precision drivers.

Thin and light, yet fast and responsive

It sure is a good-looking piece of hardware and also a grand engineering feat. The Spectre X2 is purely a tablet, just like the Surface Pro from Microsoft, yet it has the horsepower of a typical Ultrabook. Despite the 7.7mm thinness (13.2mm with the keyboard cover), the tablet has two spinning fans inside which means it uses the same processor as a normal laptop and not a fanless, under-powered processor like with other ultrathin devices.

The Spectre X2 can still be used on my lap, although it’s not that comfortable

The heat dissipates upwards, so you don’t feel the stress of the tablet when it’s standing on a table or your lap. Even though you can occasionally hear the fan when the tablet is under heavy load, it’s not as loud as a regular laptop’s. When it’s time to pick it up though, the top portion of the tablet gets pretty warm.

The configuration of my Spectre X2 is the highest with a seventh-generation Intel Core i7 processor and 16GB of memory. It also has a spacious 512GB SSD to store all my documents, videos, and applications. I use it mainly for work which mostly involves typing all day, browsing with multiple tabs open, and photo editing. Suffice to say, the specs I have are quite an overkill for my everyday tasks but I am not complaining.

The HP Pen works with well Windows Ink

I never had any issues performance-wise. The Spectre X2 boots up quickly and Photoshop loads fast whenever I need it without hiccups. Windows 10 is also a breeze to use even in tablet mode, but the learning curve is still cumbersome compared to using an iPad or any Android tablet.

What’s up with the battery life?

Before the Spectre X2, I’ve been using an ultra-slim notebook to get stuff done wherever I go. Despite the notebook’s slim waistline, I never had an issue with its battery performance. With the HP Spectre X2 though, I am surprised that it can only last as long as a typical Windows notebook.

You can work with the Spectre X2 on the go, but not for long

During my first week of use, I could do four straight hours of writing with Wi-Fi turned on and brightness set at around 50 percent on a single charge. I expected to get at least six hours with it since I’m just using the browser (specifically Microsoft Edge to get the most out of the battery life) to get stuff done. When I used the tablet offline, it was able to last almost eight hours with mixed usage from Word processing and binge-watching downloaded episodes on Netflix.

There are also some issues with the charging times of the Spectre X2. Using the included 65W charger, it would take three hours to fill up to 100 percent. Not exactly the best charging times around, but charging via USB-C makes it future-proof.

Is this your GadgetMatch?

Going back to the initial question, I’d say the HP Spectre X2 can hold its own. It’s a great option if you’re due for an upgrade and have extra cash to spare. If you’re bored with the usual laptop form and want something more than just a work tool, the Spectre X2’s detachable keyboard instantly transforms it into a tablet you can easily carry and place on a table.

Thanks to its wonderful stereo speakers, I don’t always need a pair of headphones when watching Netflix

It’s also pretty handy for those who need a Windows 10 machine for sketching. The HP Pen comes bundled in the box at no additional cost. I wasn’t able to fully test the stylus to create a masterpiece, so I can’t say how good it is compared to an actual Wacom tablet for making art.

All in all, the HP Spectre X2 is a complete package that can battle the Microsoft Surface Pro in terms of value. It’s also more widely available than the Surface Pro since Microsoft doesn’t sell their hardware in many markets.

Gaming

Why you should buy the PlayStation 5!

In case you need more reasons to

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Xbox Series X or PlayStation 5? In this first of a two part series we review the PS5. And tell you why we think you should buy it over the new XBox.

SEE ALSO:
Sony PlayStation 5 Unboxing
PlayStation 5 pre-order date in the Philippines
A somber look at the PlayStation 5 crisis

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Reviews

Infinix ZERO 8: An eclectic, affordable flagship

Eccentric yet sturdy!

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There’s a new brand in town, and it’s ready to shake up the lower midrange category in the Philippines. Meet the Infinix ZERO 8. It’s a competitive midrange smartphone with promising specs, packed in an affordable package.

From Hong Kong to the World

A bit of history, Infinix is a Hong Kong-based smartphone company with R&D in France and South Korea. It started conquering the Middle East and North Africa, and it seemingly wants to heighten its presence in Asia.

In the Philippines, the brand is making strides in the affordable segment. It launched an affordable Note 7, and the ZERO 8 tries to take the spotlight.

Personally, I’ve heard of Infinix but I never got the chance to try it. Gladly, the opportunity came when the Infinix ZERO 8 found its way to my home.

The box came in a beautiful gray and silver box

Of course, it contains every essential accessory you’ll need for your smartphone

It comes with a SIM ejector tool, a clear case, a charging cable, and an adapter.

Infinix takes it up a notch on its white cables, pairing it with silver accents

Yes, the phone has a headphone jack in case you’re asking

The unit I have comes in a Black Diamond colorway

But before we dive in, let’s take a quick look at its ‘promising’ specifications

Processor

MediaTek Helio G90T

Configuration

8GB + 128GB

Battery

4500mAh + 33W SuperCharge

OS

Android 10

Front camera

48MP + 8MP

Dual-Flash Light

Rear camera

64MP + 8MP + 2MP + 2MP

Quad-Flash Light

Display

6.85” FHD+

90Hz refresh rate

2460×1080 resolution

Dimension

168.74 x 76.08 x 9.07mm

So, what? I’m eclectic

Let’s start with the elephant in the room: the phone’s eccentric rear design. Seeing how Infinix has its smartphones designed in France, there’s no wonder the products come out a little extra. French design, as I’ve always perceived it, seemed grand and flashy.

Infinix ZERO 8

vivo S1 Pro

That’s what the Infinix ZERO 8 is: Commanding attention with a design rooting from previously launched smartphones. For instance, the diamond-shaped camera placement is reminiscent of the vivo S1 Pro. On another note, Infinix stated the design was inspired by the Louvre’s Diamond-glass design.

Infinix ZERO 8

Samsung Galaxy A51

Meanwhile, the prism that refracts across its glass body is similar to Samsung’s Galaxy A50 and A51. Infinix also used the same approach as Samsung’s changing patterns, albeit with a more minimal matte V-shape design from top to middle.

Combining both familiar designs from more expensive brands, Infinix presented a unique proposition delivered to the lower midrange segment.

Smartly designed?

Accompanying the ZERO 8’s eccentric rear design are its sides that are minimally and smartly designed. The top part is clean AF, while the bottom part sports a headphone jack, a USB-C port, and its speaker grilles.

On the left, you can find its SIM tray while on the right are its single volume rocker and a fingerprint scanner that also works as a power button. Personally, I love the fingerprint scanner. It reads swiftly, allowing quick access to your phone.

A treat for those who like it big

The Infinix ZERO 8 sports a 6.85-inch FHD+ display with a 2460×1080 resolution and 90Hz refresh rate. It’s a humongous and powerful handset for tiny hands, but for the price it commands, this affordable flagship is a steal.

Navigating the phone can be as smooth as other premium smartphones. In the entertainment department, it makes for a perfect little portable cinema.

Watching Start-Up on Netflix was quite an experience. The visuals are strikingly vibrant although the blacks are a little bit faded. Audio, on the other hand, can be as loud as most wireless speakers.

One time, I had the phone play Netflix’s Emily in Paris while I work and the sound filled the whole room. For context, my room is double the size of most studio apartments in Manila. Yes, it was LOUD.

Easy to hold, hard to navigate

The Infinix ZERO 8 comes with a hefty build. Even though it weighs heavier compared to smartphones in the same bracket, the curved edges provide easy grip. I didn’t feel like I’m gonna drop the phone accidentally or it will slip off my hands. Coming from someone with tiny hands, somewhat, I felt secure.

But the easy-grip isn’t just what I need. Having a tall and robust phone like this makes it difficult for me to navigate the phone with one hand.

Shake your inner Marie Kondo

Privileged complaints aside, the Infinix ZERO 8 runs a customized XOS Dolphin 7 UI based on Android 10. There are a lot of pre-installed applications, which also blew up my notifications. The Marie Kondo in me is shaking, I had a hard time looking at and cleaning the interface.

Gladly, most of them are removable. The XOS interface also comes with a Smart Panel which you can customize, making it easy to access important apps and tools. Aside from that, the XOS carries a plethora of helpful features for a more mindful smartphone usage

If it comes with a cleaner UI, maybe I would recommend this phone for people dabbling in mindfulness while staying connected.

A rear camera story

The Infinix ZERO 8 has a total of six cameras. On its rear, you can find a quad-camera setup: a 64-megapixel main camera, an 8-megapixel ultrawide lens, and two 2-megapixel depth sensors.

To be perfectly honest, I had a fun time using the ZERO 8’s rear cameras. It’s an affordable phone, yet it produces vibrant photos especially in the daytime. Low light and indoor shots aren’t looking good, though. For reference, you may scroll the photos I took in my neighborhood, in a Panda-themed café, and in Starbucks.

Daytime

Ultra-wide angle

1x Auto

2x Auto

Indoor Lowlight – Daytime

Ultra-wide angle | Cafe de Esa, Philippines

1x Auto | Cafe de Esa, Philippines

2x Auto | Cafe de Esa, Philippines

Indoor Lowlight

Ultra-wide angle | Starbucks Sierra Valley

1x Auto | Starbucks Sierra Valley

2x Auto | Starbucks Sierra Valley

Photographing food

Auto mode

Auto mode

Portrait mode

I love taking photos of my food and beverages. So, yes. I used the ZERO 8 to capture my favorite breakfast meals from a cafe and a restaurant in Tanay, Rizal. Surprisingly, the ZERO 8 can produce appetizing photos, thanks to its aggressive post-processing in different lighting conditions.

Portrait mode doesn’t look good, though. I know some people who use portrait mode to capture their food to replicate some stellar shots from mirrorless cameras, but it looks like the trick won’t work with the ZERO 8’s cameras.

Greenery

Greenery, whether it’s sunny, cloudy, or raining, still looked vibrant. This kind of processing makes it perfect for social media posting. However, the quality might suffer even more since social media platforms lower the image quality.

Clearly, the ZERO 8 is already suffering from a loss of details especially when you zoom in. Photos might look blurry when zoomed in on Instagram.

Selfie cameras underneath

For its front cameras, it carries a dual-camera setup: a 48-megapixel main sensor and an 8-megapixel ultra-wide lens. Uniquely, the selfie cameras are placed underneath the display. It’s not protruding nor sunken when you let your fingers grace the screen. It’s weirdly smooth and neat. And I like it.

Selfie with proper daylight

Auto mode

Beauty mode

Portrait mode

As you can see, the front camera system is quite aggressive when it comes to post-processing in beauty and portrait mode. Thankfully, the daylight allowed the photos to reproduce vibrant colors and have a proper white balance, even in different modes.

Selfie in poor lighting condition

Auto in wide-angle mode

Beauty mode

Portrait mode

In low light, the ZERO 8’s front cameras struggle. It produces a bluish tint leaning to a cooler hue for different modes, except when you use the wide-angle mode. Surprisingly, the change in temperature only happens when taking wide-angles in low-light.

You can also notice the loss in details. But then again, this is an affordable flagship. Temper your expectations, or upgrade to a more expensive option but with better camera systems.

Reaaaally long-lasting battery

In the midst of reviewing this phone, I lost power and water supply in my neighborhood after the onslaught of Typhoon Ulysses. I was off from work for a week, and the fully-charged Infinix ZERO 8 drained to 25 percent on the fifth day. I didn’t expect this device to last that long, even on standby.

Unlike the Galaxy M31 (6000mAh) which went from 100 to 33 percent on standby in a week, the Infinix ZERO 8 drained slower, having only 4500mAh battery capacity. I haven’t even used its power-saving features, which makes the phone a promising companion.

But my normal usage made the phone last for more than a day. I’m not heavy in gaming seeing how I spent most of my days balancing work, personal hobbies like fitness, art, and entertainment. For heavy, power users, the phone might still be good enough for a day.

If you run out of juice, fret not. It’s capable of up to 33W of fast charging, which gives you an hour and a few minutes to fully charge its large battery. That is, if you’re using a fast charging adapter. If your charger takes forever, don’t worry. The phone has a Safe Charging feature which automatically disconnects the phone when it’s fully charged. You can let your phone charge while you sleep at night.

Power, speed, and performance

As I’ve said before, this handset has a 90hz refresh rate. We had a crash course on smartphone display’s refresh rate and I will say it again here: We don’t really need it to be that high unless you’re playing graphics-intensive games. Which this smartphone can handle well.

I logged in to my League of Legends: Wild Rift account to play and I had a sweet time. With cooling technology, you won’t worry about overheating issues. It also has 8GB of RAM and 128GB of internal. Gone are the days where you scramble to delete photos and other files just to make space and to prevent your phone from slowing down.

The only reason I didn’t play enough is because of two reasons: I’m juggling a lot of things, and the phone is too heavy for me. It would strain my hands if I play for more than 30 minutes.

Is this your GadgetMatch?

The Infinix ZERO 8 is a promising flagship for those looking for the best they can afford, without breaking the bank. It has an eccentric design, a long-lasting battery, speed, power, and performance — all at an affordable price.

Unlike most midrange phones carrying the same specs, the Infinix ZERO 8 retails for PhP 12,990. It comes in two colors: Black diamond and Silver diamond. It’s currently available in Lazada.

SEE ALSO: Infinix Note 7: Best underrated budget phone?

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Reviews

Apple iPhone 12 Pro Review: Pro Enough?

How does it set itself apart from the rest of the line?

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While the similarities between Apple’s iPhone 12 and 12 Pro are less distinct than ever, the iPhone 12 Pro sets itself apart enough. Other than that, consumers got more confused with the iPhone 12 mini and 12 Pro Max on the line.

Are you curious to know if the iPhone 12 Pro is your GadgetMatch this 2020?

You can find out more in our iPhone 12 Pro review by clicking this link.

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