HP Spectre x360 13 Review: When A Good Windows Convertible Evolves Into a True Great
The reports of the demise of the laptop have been greatly exaggerated. If the tablets and indeed the smartphones were to really master the workflow that you usually pull out a laptop or switch on a PC for, they would have. And they haven’t, which means there is no point getting distracted by the ifs and the buts. Flagship laptops running the Microsoft Windows operating system, always have had, and will always continue to carve out, a niche of their own. The HP Spectre x360 has always been one of the torchbearers blending in great performance, stunning looks and a form factor that allowed it to become a sort of a tablet too when you fancied that. Prices of the latest HP Spectre x360 start at Rs 1,29,990 for the Intel Core i5 variant with 8GB RAM and 256GB SSD, there are five variants in total and the prices top out at Rs 1,89,990 for the Core i7 version with 16GB RAM and a 1TB SSD. That means this laptop needs serious investment from your end, but the good news is, this is absolutely worth every penny.
It doesn’t take long, and you are left in no doubt the Spectre x360 is one of the most beautiful laptops you can choose from. It is just 14.7mm thick at its thickest point and weighs 1.32kg. What you will surely admire is the chiselled look. You will soon notice how two corners have been snipped-off to add extra edge to the personality and design. The resulting space isn’t wasted either—one edge is where you will find the USB Type-C port for connecting the power adapter, while the other has the very sleek power key. The aluminium CNC-machined design is great to look at and hold, particularly the contrast because of the dual tone colour finish. Speaking of which, you can choose to have your Spectre x360 spectacle in either the Dark Ash Grey colour or the rather unique Poseidon Blue option.
For a machine this slim, there is no shortage of ports either—what you get is a USB port, two USB Type-C ports and a headphone jack. In comparison with the predecessor, the display "chin" on the new Spectre x360 is thinner (31.8 mm vs. 34.17 mm) and the side bezels are narrower (5.75 mm vs. 5.42 mm). As you would perhaps expect from a slim and light laptop these days, the hinge allows you to push the display all the way back, for a sort of tablet mode. The fine attention to detail is perhaps most apparent with the Spectre branding on the display hinges.
For a laptop with a 13.3-inch display, this has a rather compact footprint. That said, the keyboard is well laid out with good spacing between each key. The touchpad itself is quite wide, though we would have preferred a bit more height as well. The speaker grille is nicely designed as well. Behind this grille sit speakers optimized by Danish audio company Bang & Olufsen.
HP, depending on which variant of the Spectre x360 you pick, gets you a Full HD or a 4K display. All models except the fully loaded variant get the 1,920 x 1,080 resolution while the highest spec variant will get you a 4K (3,840 x 2,160 resolution) display real estate. The Full HD display options do a fantastic job in terms of detailing, colours and viewing angles, chances are that you may perhaps be stumped by what is a built-in privacy mode which HP is offering with the Spectre x360—you press the F1 (Fn) key to completely make the display unreadable for anyone peeking at it from a side or even behind you. Only the person using the laptop, at a perfectly straight angle, will be able to read what is on the display. We feel this is a great security feature to have, particularly if you are using your laptop during a meeting, or while traveling, for instance. That said, this display is certainly a bit reflective, but that is what is to be expected with an edge to edge glass above the display. Incidentally, this is a 120Hz panel, but that seems a bit of an overkill for what is essentially not a gaming laptop.
Speaking of security, HP has a pretty robust line-up of options available on the Spectre x360. This is one of the few Windows laptops that has a fingerprint sensor as well, which certainly provides that additional layer of security over a standard Windows password. Then there is the toggle on the right-side spine, which disables the front facing camera so that no apps or software can spy on you when you aren’t using it for video calls.
In terms of the power under the hood, HP have not really made any compromises. You get the latest generation Intel processors, also known as Whiskey Lake. The machine that we have here runs the Core i7-8565 processor with 16GB RAM—these are the Intel Whiskey Lake processors. If we really have to nit-pick about the specifications, we could perhaps say that the Full HD display options only get up to 512GB of storage, with the generous 1TB SSD reserved only for the 4K variant. Even then, there is no doubt that HP hasn’t really compromised at all in terms of the overall performance and experience of using a Windows 10 laptop.
Battery life is good too, as it lasts a day at work on a single charge. This is a significant improvement to around 9 hours on a single charge, up from around 5 hours that the last year’s Spectre x360 would manage, and simply adds to the very usability aspect of the new Spectre x360. The HP Tilt Pen is a great addition for those who may want to write, scribble or sketch using one of the many third-party apps from the Windows Store—HP offers this with the laptop itself, and you don’t need to spend extra for that.
Chances are, you would be looking at this laptop as a machine that you can carry around for work, would look equally stylish when you travel and can get a bit of entertainment sorted when you are home. But the primary requirement still remains work and the workflow related apps, and that is where the HP Spectre x360 delivers. In great style. This is a great machine to consider, if you have already been eyeing a Lenovo X1 Carbon (prices start Rs 1,35,300).