Review of HP Spectre Foldable PC: Embracing the Future of PCs in the Present

The HP Spectre Foldable PC represents a significant advancement in the PC industry. However, its high price point may discourage many potential customers from purchasing it. Despite this, I believe that the Spectre Foldable PC deserves a unique review that acknowledges its innovative nature. In this article, I will approach the topic in a different manner.

Meeting the demands of the present while embracing new ideas, workflows, and form factors is a delicate balancing act. The HP Spectre Foldable PC exemplifies this delicate balance and mirrors the situation in the foldable smartphone market. Folding display technology is widely regarded as the future, but it also comes with certain caveats. It must not only exist but also function reliably and outperform existing solutions. It needs to make sense in the present, rather than being purely speculative.

To put it differently, the debate surrounding folding displays can be framed by recalling the concept of using the right tool for the job, which I advocated for years ago. We all envision a device that can perform the tasks of multiple devices, but historically, such dual-purpose devices have often been compromised in terms of performance. They may handle two tasks, but they do them poorly. However, there have been exceptions that keep the hope alive. The most notable example is the iPhone, which revolutionized personal computing devices and remains influential to this day. Its success demonstrated the potential of a device that surpasses its predecessors in multiple areas.

Looking at the current landscape of folding display devices, especially in the smartphone sector, one cannot help but wonder if we are on the cusp of another transformative moment similar to the introduction of the iPhone. Some argue that this may not be the case since foldable smartphones have not been universally adopted by the market. However, the counterargument is strong: folding displays are incredibly advanced and futuristic, and their high short-term costs simply indicate a longer transition period. It is possible that folding displays will become as ubiquitous as the glass slab design pioneered by Apple.

As far as I’m concerned, there is no doubt that folding displays represent the future and have the potential to defy the “right tool for the job” rule, just like the iPhone did. The only question is when this transition will occur, and that largely depends on cost. At present, folding displays are prohibitively expensive, but the prices will inevitably drop with time. Although I cannot pinpoint when this will happen, it is inevitable.

Some may argue that reliability remains a concern with first-generation folding displays. Initial models were plagued by issues such as reviewers mistakenly removing what they thought were screen protectors or debris finding its way into the hinges, causing damage to the displays. These early setbacks suggest that these innovations were rushed to market. However, it’s essential to note that we have come a long way since those early devices. Samsung, one of the primary pioneers in the folding display space, recently released its fifth-generation folding smartphones, which rarely encounter reliability issues. This market maturity is exemplified by Google’s introduction of its first folding device, the Pixel Fold, which received positive reviews. Even OnePlus, a device manufacturer that caters to a niche audience and focuses on affordability, has joined the foldable device market with its OnePlus Open. The mainstream adoption of the folding form factor is clearly underway, and this progress is driven by continuous improvements in underlying technology.

Recently, I had a revealing experience that demonstrated how much folding display technology has advanced in a short period. During an HP event in New York City, I participated in a reviewer’s workshop for the HP Spectre Foldable PC, both virtually and in-person. The in-person event provided a hands-on experience, and it was during this session that I witnessed the transformative potential of folding displays. Kevin Massaro, HP’s vice president of consumer products, discussed the durability of the Foldable PC’s hinge. He explained that extensive testing proved that this innovative design, which enables the PC to function like a conventional laptop with balanced weight distribution, would last as long as any other laptop hinge.

To demonstrate this, HP allowed us to handle an open Foldable PC and pass it between reviewers, highlighting the hidden hinge and its exceptional craftsmanship. At that moment, someone asked the question that had been on my mind as well: What about the display? How did HP ensure its reliability and durability? Did the company focus solely on the hinge to divert attention from potential issues with the display?

Massaro appeared confused initially but quickly redirected his gaze toward another HP executive in the room. He then turned to a table full of reviewers, each eager to hear his response and hoping he wouldn’t dodge the question. “The display will outlast the hinge,” he confidently replied, as if it were obvious.

Take a moment to contemplate the significance of that statement. HP, a company betting heavily on a new, expensive form factor, with its mammoth 17-inch folding display, is more concerned with the hinge’s durability than the display itself. This revelation lingered in my mind as I made my way through the bustling Penn Station, embarking on my journey home that would last over two hours. Was this truly happening? Is the era of foldable PCs finally upon us?

Not quite. The high cost of this technology and the resulting $5000 price tag of the Spectre Foldable PC undoubtedly restricts its appeal and accessibility. However, HP acknowledges this reality. This first-generation device took longer than anticipated to reach the market, and the company emphasizes that the PC’s ability to replace two or even three other devices justifies the cost. They argue that the Spectre Foldable PC represents the best-in-class and that there are customers willing to pay for the flexibility it offers. The costs associated with foldable devices will inevitably decrease over time.

I understand and appreciate both sides of the argument when it comes to the adoption of foldable displays. The current limitations and price barriers may impede widespread adoption in the short term. Nevertheless, the long-term potential and the rapid advancements in technology make folding displays an inevitable part of the future. The Spectre Foldable PC showcases the progress made in this area, and while it may not be accessible to most consumers at the moment, it serves as a harbinger of what lies ahead.

In conclusion, the HP Spectre Foldable PC represents a remarkable step forward for the PC industry. Its folding display technology exemplifies the future of computing. While its high price tag may limit its immediate appeal, the continuous evolution of folding displays will undoubtedly lead to increased accessibility and affordability. The hinge design and display reliability demonstrate the progress made in this field. The era of foldable PCs is on the horizon, and HP’s contribution to this evolution paves the way for a new era of versatile computing.

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