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HP - Spectre x360 2-in-1 13.3" Touch-Screen Laptop - Intel Core i7 - 8GB Memory - 256GB Solid State Drive - Ash Silver-Front_Standard

Customer rating

Rating 4.6 out of 5 stars with 77 reviews

  • 20%
96%
would recommend to a friend

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  • Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

    Fantastic High-Performance Laptop

    Posted
    optimummind
    • Tech Insider NetworkTech Insider Network
    • Top 10 ContributorTop 10 Contributor

    ======= Summary ======= The HP Spectre x360 - with its fantastic design, build quality, ergonomics, bright display, performance, and long battery life - is an All-Around Winner~! This is the BEST laptop I’ve ever used. HP FTW~!! _______ Pro's: 1. Bright, crisp, & responsive 1080P touch-screen (1-Watt, 400-nits). 2. Relatively light (~2.9 lbs) and thin (~14mm) for a 360-degrees convertible laptop. 3. Tent and Tablet modes are useful and nice to have. 4. Pen support. 5. Excellent keyboard and touchpad. 6. Great design & excellent build materials and quality. 7. Good selection of ports - both USB Type C & USB Type A. No need for dongles~! 8. Excellent performance from the Intel Core i7, SSD drive, and 8GB of RAM. 9. SSD is upgradeable (NVME M.2). 10. Fantastic battery life. 11. Great cooling design = quiet operation. ________ Neutral: 1. Fingerprint magnet on this dark surface material. ________ Cons: 1. No Microsoft Precision Touchpad driver. But there is a workaround... ==== Design & Build Quality ==== The HP Spectre x360’s new Gem-Cut design language is sleek, modern-looking, unique, and very pleasing to my eyes. It reeks premiumness and feels great in the hands as well. It feels dense, high-quality, and solid as a tank. Love it~!! HP did an ingenious job by placing the power button on the top-left corner of the laptop base and the charging port on the top-right corner. Not only is this an excellent use of space, it is also very practical by avoiding clutter with other accessories and preventing accidental power-on and power-off. Brilliant~! Other thoughtful & smart design decisions include the user-facing speakers located right above the keyboard area as well as the fingerprint scanner located right below the arrow keys. As a result of its placement, any music and videos you watch and hear will sound louder, more detailed, and fuller. The fingerprint scanner worked very well and I was easily & quickly able to log-in to my Windows account. The touchscreen worked accurately and in a very responsive fashion allowing the switch to Tent or Tablet Mode to be seamless and frustration-free. The only thing I can complain about, and it is a small First-World complaint, is its tendency to easily show fingerprint smudges and marks. With that said, I have owned several darker laptops before in the past and I’m used to cleaning it up frequently. 10 out of 10~! ==== Display ==== The special Intel-developed 1-Watt 1080P display, which can still get as bright as 400 nits, is crisp, has great color accuracy and contrast, and is a pleasure to stare at. For peace of mind, it is good to know that HP is using the protective and durable Corning Gorilla Glass on it. Touch functionality worked flawlessly as did writing with the HP pen. 10 out of 10. ==== Speakers ==== The sound on this thin & light ultrabook from its quad-speaker configuration is great. Bass, of course, is weak but that is normal for a thin ultrabook. The intelligent placement of the speakers above the keyboard area results in sound that is direct-facing, loud, crisp, and more fuller-sounding compared to laptops that have their speakers underneath. 10 out of 10~! ==== Network & Connectivity Options ==== The excellent Intel Wireless-AC 9560 802.11AC Gigabit Wifi is inside the Spectre x360 and it performed very well in my home network. Also included in the Intel package is Bluetooth 5.0 which is forward-looking and up-to-date. I experienced no connectivity or connection speed issues. Everything was peachy. 10 out of 10~! ==== Ports ==== I absolutely LOVE not having to use a dongle on the x360 to plug in my USB flash drives~! My older HP Spectre 13 laptop from 2017 had no USB Type A ports and it has been a frustrating and annoying affair on a consistent basis. That’s why I chose the x360 this time around for its better port selection. With one USB Type A port, two USB Type C Thunderbolt ports (40Gbps), a headphone jack, and a microSD card reader, I’m set and satisfied. 10 out of 10~! ==== Performance ==== With an 8th-Gen Intel Core i7 Whiskey Lake quad-core CPU, 8GB of DDR4 RAM, and a Western Digital SN720 NVME SSD, the x360 performed fantastically at everything I demanded of it - Chrome browsing with >25 tabs, photo & video editing with Cyberlink PowerDirector, and general multi-tasking. On Geekbench 4.3.3, the x360 scored 4775 Single-core and 12,789 Multi-core. On CrystalDiskMark 6.0.2, I got 3023.4 MB/s Sequential Read and 1615.8 MB/s Sequential Write. I only wish the storage size was bigger, like 512GB. I’m planning on upgrading to the new Samsung 970 Evo Plus 1TB NVME SSD in the near future. 10 out of 10. ==== Keyboard & TouchPad ==== Typing on the keyboard is a delightful and supremely pleasant experience. HP, very wisely, is NOT following the design decisions of Apple Macbooks & certain Dell XPS line of laptops and is instead using a very comfortable, responsive, and tactile keyboard mechanism with great key travel. As a result, the keys have good spring, great damping, and are very quiet in operation. I absolutely adore this keyboard. The same cannot be said, however, of the touchpad. HP, for some reason unknown to me, is STILL not using the excellent Microsoft Precision Touchpad drivers. Instead, HP is using Synaptics drivers which is vastly inferior in functionality and custom gesture support. So I did what I did with my older 2017 HP Spectre 13 laptop. After uninstalling the Synaptic touchpad driver from Device Manager, I manually installed the Microsoft Precision Touchpad driver from the Lenovo website. The specific driver version I used was 19.3.4.111 and it is for the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen6 laptop model. If you Google it, you should still be able to find that older driver. To prevent Windows Update from automatically updating the Lenovo Precision driver to the newest non-Precision HP Synaptics driver, I used the Microsoft “wushowhide.diagcab” utility to hide the Synaptics driver update. With the Precision Driver installed, I was back to creating my own custom three- and four-finger gestures and getting tremendous pleasure using the touchpad. HP seriously needs to terminate whatever agreement they have with Synaptics and start installing Microsoft Precision drivers in their Spectre laptop lines ASAP. 9 out of 10. ==== Battery Life ==== This is the best battery life I’ve ever experienced from any laptop I’ve owned & used throughout the years. I didn’t achieve the crazy 22-hour battery life that HP is marketing but got about 8 hours out of it with brightness set to 100%. Fantastic...Simply fantastic. 10 out of 10. ==== Software ==== The Spectre x360 came loaded with Windows 10 1803 which I promptly upgraded to 1809. There was the usual assortment of bloatware from both Microsoft and its third-party partners. I counted 10 third-party apps, 17 HP apps, and some Microsoft apps such as Xbox and Skype. Removing them, as is usual for Windows 10, is easy to do from Settings. I found some of HP’s apps to be genuinely useful such as the HP Support Assistant (firmware & driver updates), HP Audio Control (speaker sound effects & equalizer), and HP Command Center (setting laptop thermal profiles). 10 out of 10. ==== Upgradeability ==== The Spectre x360, being a thin & light ultrabook, doesn’t offer meaningful upgrade options except for the NVME SSD drive. So one needs to be thoughtful about their current and future computing needs and select the components wisely. With my particular model, I feel confidently fine with the Core i7 CPU with 8GB of RAM. I just need bigger storage down the line (at least 1TB SSD). 9 out of 10. ==== My Verdict ==== The HP Spectre x360 with its Gem-Cut design is an excellent laptop that gets almost everything right. Fantastic build materials and quality, great-looking design, slim & lightweight form-factor, superb keyboard, excellent touchscreen display with pen support, flexible viewing options (e.g., Tent Mode), and all-day battery life. The only subpar area is the lack of the Microsoft Precision Touchpad driver which, fortunately, can be “fixed” by installing the Lenovo Precision Touchpad driver. All in all, HP has crafted a fantastic and unique laptop that I thoroughly enjoy using. It is a very delightful machine.

    I would recommend this to a friend

  • Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

    Powerful computer in a small package

    Posted
    CraigB
    • Tech Insider NetworkTech Insider Network
    • Top 50 ContributorTop 50 Contributor

    Pros Light and powerful Thin Convertible to tablet, easel, or tent Bright screen Very good off angle viewing Feels more sturdy than previous generations Speakers are loud Fan rarely runs and is quiet Can last through a workday on battery for most Fast processor and hard drive Keyboard feels good and is responsive Trackpad is smooth most of the time Has both USB-A and USB-C/Thunderbolt Includes Windows Hello using cameras and fingerprint reader Windows Hello camera is near instant Uses USB-C charger Has hardware switch to disable camera Attractive design and finish Three levels of keyboard backlight Fast Wi-Fi Sturdy chassis with little flex Includes active stylus Includes laptop sleeve Cons Can run through battery quicker than expected in heavy use Mouse sometimes acts as if click lock is on when it is disabled Finish seems as if it will wear quickly Finish is a fingerprint magnet Gestures randomly stop working requiring restart Hinge moves too easily allowing screen to change angle Top and bottom screen bezels are massive Tablet mode is awkward with keyboard on the back Webcam is blurry except in bright rooms close up Speakers distort at high volume Windows Hello Camera sometimes fails requiring restart Myriad of HP programs are complicated and feels like bloatware Not long ago saying you had a Windows laptop was synonymous for a poor quality, poor battery life, heavy laptop. Thankfully for fans of Windows the competition keeps getting better. The HP Spectre X360 is the latest generation of HP’s high-end convertible laptops Ultrabooks. Previous generations received good reviews but were marred by flimsy chassis and dim screen. Design The 2018 version of the Spectre X360 feels very sturdy with little flex. The screen takes a good amount of force to distort. The decorative grill at the base of the screen feels very sturdy and doesn’t flex like as it would in previous generations. The edge is chamfered on the top and bottom with a cooper finish that HP likens to a gem. It gives more a sense of thinness and does have an attractive look. Long term durability from drops might be a concern with the force concentrated to a smaller edge but of course dropping a laptop often ends in damage. The back corners of the base have a 45-degree angle allowing access to the power button on one side, regardless of mode, and a USB-C charging port which is also accessible regardless of mode. The finish is called dark ash which is a fancy word for dark brown. The copper and dark brown colors compliment each other well although it lends itself to showing every fingerprint. A fingerprint scanner is at the bottom right of the keyboard and a Windows Hello camera is above the screen. For those concerned with privacy there is a hardware switch on the right edge of the base to disable the webcam Ports The left side has a single USB-A port. On the right is angled USB-C/Thunderport port intended for charging, an additional USB-C/Thunderbolt port, headphone jack, and microSD slot. Angling the charging USB port is a nice touch for those who are right handed using a mouse as it helps keep down the clutter. However; with every other port on the right side it might get a big cluttered if you are using a mouse on the right side too. Display The display is a 13” full HD display which one source reports as 650nits. Without a way to measure it is hard to say but the display can get very bright. There should be no problems seeing the screen even in brightly lit rooms and possible some outdoor use. Glare is present as the screen isn’t anti-glare but overall it is manageable and allows more contrast. Off angle viewing is very good with minimal color shift for the class but glare does become much more evident. The FHD display is good for a more affordable price, battery life, and laptop use. If you have good eyes and are using it in tablet mode close up the pixels are detectable and text is less sharp but overall clarity is still acceptable. If there was any criticism of the display it would be the hinge and the huge bezels. It is very easy to open but the loose hinge can mean that the screen can change angle during use due to movements. It’s a tradeoff as you wouldn’t want to make it hard to open but you may find yourself periodically readjusting it. As for the bezels, it’s hard to say HP’s motivation on this but the bottom bezel is a massive 1” and the top is a solid 3/4”. It’s not a deal breaker but just feels excessive in 2018. Performance This laptop is surprisingly fast between the Core i7 and the, assumed, NVME SSD. CrystalDiskMark clocked in read speeds over 3000MBps and write speeds nearing 1600MBps. At no point did the laptop ever feel sluggish. In fact, it is very surprising how quickly it responds to most requests. Even during heavy usage, the fan rarely kicks on and is nearly silent. Heat is manageable, and the fan settings can be adjusted further if needed in the HP Command Center. Opening Word seems nearly instantaneous and using the integrated Windows Hello Webcam logs in so fast it might make you question if your computer was locked. The integrated fingerprint scanner is slower but that seems more to do with the sensor than the speed of the system. Battery life In the default settings in HP Command Center the system tries to dynamically figure out what performance works best for your needs. On this setting, it leans heavily towards performance, leading to about 7-8 hours of usage. If you change the settings to more battery efficient the system still feels very snappy during standard office use with the processor throttled down and fan usage is avoided at all costs. In this setting, the battery lasted much longer. On this mode it consumed approximately 1% every 10 minutes which could potentially mean battery life in the 15-16 hour range. Battery tests are highly subjective overall but unless you are a heavy power user this system should last you through a workday without a problem. Even if you do need a charge, the USB-C based charge means you can use a phone charger to top off. This is probably part of the reason the included carrying sleeve has no place for a charger. Keyboard and Trackpad For the size of the laptop, the keyboard is quite spacious and doesn’t feel like a sacrifice. Key travel is very good and ends with a soft, distinct thump at the bottom. No hint of lag could be detected as even fast typing faithfully caught each keystroke. The movement feels more like a scissor key than a chicklet style. The keyboard is backlit with options for off, low, and high brightness. Key contrast is good with the white letters on the dark background and the backlight distinctly shines through the letters to light them up instead of just around the keys like some. The trackpad is a little less refined. It is very large as most newer laptops favor this design and is usually good. The movement is less natural than some other high end Windows laptops and periodically decides to act as if click lock is turned on causing you to drag items across the screen unintentionally. It seems HP has the sensitivity too high where it detects your finger above the trackpad when not actually on it. Hopefully HP will refine the sensitivity soon as the use is otherwise very good. This seems more of a need for a drive update as the system also stopped responding to gestures requiring a restart to fix. Thankfully restarts only take a few seconds so it is only a minor hassle. Webcam The webcam is thankfully at the top of the screen so no Skype sessions filming your nose. It works extremely fast for logging in with Windows Hello but, unsurprisingly isn’t intended for taking photos. Skype video is a bit dark and blurry unless you are in a very bright room close to the screen. It’s perfectly acceptable for its intended use. On one occasion Windows Hello stopped working until a quick restart so it seems some more driver refinement is still needed. Speakers The speakers are surprisingly loud. You can easily play music or dialog and hear it across the room. In fact, music at full volume close is uncomfortably loud. The speaker range is lacking in bass as are most thin devices in the category. At full volume the speakers begin to distort with highs becoming uncomfortable harsh. Fortunately, in most cases turning it up to max volume is unnecessary. At lower volumes the range is very respectable for such a device. Software HP has never known for being lean on the software front adding lots of bloat to their system. In this case the only third part application, outside the ones that come on every Windows 10 system, is McAfee trial. The rest of the included software are HP utilities. The number of utilities seems excessive and complicated but, in most cases, you will rarely need to access them. That said, some refinement and simplification of the myriad of included HP utilities could really improve the overall experience. Final thoughts Although tablet usage is a bit awkward with a keyboard on the back, thickness for a tablet, and large bezels the overall package still feels very high quality. There are certainly design compromises, but it seems HP understands most people use it as a laptop first and the least number of compromises are in that mode. Disregarding the convertible capabilities this is one compelling laptop. The extra modes are just a bonus. Some 13” laptops feel small in use, but HP has done a nice job making a small laptop feel large in use. If you are in the market for a Windows Ultrabook, the Spectre X360 2018 edition should be on your short list.

    I would recommend this to a friend

  • Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

    Great Looking Laptop with Excellent Battery Life

    Posted
    SamG
    • Tech Insider NetworkTech Insider Network
    • Top 1000 ContributorTop 1000 Contributor

    The Spectre x360 is almost as premium as it looks. It’s got a fantastic look and build, specs that are just right, and it runs for hours. The amount of bloat that comes preinstalled is a little appalling, but otherwise this is an excellent laptop. I think the design of this laptop is going to be a bit polarizing. I’m personally a big fan of the dark gray color with the copper accents. The angles on the sides are a bit odd, but I do like them. It feels like the designers tried really hard to give the Spectre a ‘premium’ look and people who prefer a more understated look may find it a bit gawdy, but I think it looks great. The one thing I didn’t like so much was size of the bezels around the screen; it feels like there’s a lot of extra space that’s could be used by a screen with a slightly taller aspect ratio – maybe 16:10 instead of 16:9. The build feels very solid; nothing creaks or flexes, the hinges are solid, and I don’t feel any gaps running my fingers around it. The specs feel just right to me. With a quad-core i7-8565U, 8GB of RAM, 256GB SSD, and 802.11ac with Bluetooth 5. Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like any of the internals are upgradeable, so that’s something to consider before going with this configuration. The screen is 1080p and it looks good; I do wish it was a little bit higher, but it’s plenty sharp on the 13” screen. There’s a good mix of ports too with 2 USB-C and 1 USB-A port (no dongle required!). I’ve been happy with the performance so far. My previous laptop had a dual-core Y-series i7 and I definitely notice the difference with the quad-core U-series. Everything loads quickly and transitions and animations are smooth throughout. Battery life is also excellent; HP quotes 22.5 hours of ‘mixed usage’ and I’m getting more like 14-16 hours, but it’s the best I’ve ever experienced and I can confidently say that I could take this out for the day without my charger. The backlit keyboard is good; the keys have decent travel and good spacing between them. The trackpad is also good; it’s pretty big and it supports all of the Windows 10 gestures, but it feels like there’s the slightest input delay that I can’t help but notice and haven’t been able to correct in the settings. There’s also a stylus included. I don’t see myself using the stylus that much, but it does work well, probably about as well as the Surface Pen. The webcam on top of the screen is good, but not great. The image is pretty soft in all but best lighting. It does support Windows Hello for login though, which is super-fast. HP also added a hardware switch for the camera on the side, so those concerned about privacy won’t have to tape over it. If you’re not using Windows Hello to login there’s also a fingerprint scanner next to the keyboard that works well too. I wasn’t very happy with the amount of bloat that came preloaded on the Spectre. At least a third of the tiles pinned to the start menu was just a bunch of extra crap – games, Dropbox, McAfee, some frivolous HP apps. Some of it might actually be useful to some, but most of it just feels insulting; something in this class of PC shouldn’t have all this advertising clogging up the UI. It’s easy enough to remove, but it shouldn’t have been there in the first place. The tablet mode works well enough, but Windows 10 and what I use it for just doesn’t work as well with just a touch screen. The Spectre x360 is technically a 2-in-1, but if I’ve got the option I’ll usually use the keyboard and trackpad before the touchscreen. That’s either a testament to how great the mouse and keyboard experience is or how unrefined the touch experience is (or a little bit of both). Overall I’d recommend this to anyone looking for a great all-around Windows laptop, especially if you can appreciate the design and battery life. My only real issue with it is the bloatware, but fortunately that’s an issue that can be fixed.

    I would recommend this to a friend

  • Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

    Almost perfect, great laptop

    Posted
    psyclopps
    • Tech Insider NetworkTech Insider Network
    • Top 500 ContributorTop 500 Contributor

    The latest model of the Spectre x360 feels very polished overall. I was very impressed during my review with very few bad things to say. Lets explore. Unboxing: This is a treat. The outer box is simple brown packaging but the actual Spectre packaging is inside. That box is two tone and high quality. Upon opening everything feels very premium and well thought out. You will find documents, the laptop, a carrying case, the stylus (with battery) and the 65 watt adapter. The adapter is great as much of the cable is wrapped in fabric and feels durable. It charges via USB-C. Set up: Pretty standard Windows 10 setup here. The only changes worth noting are you will set up Windows Hello via facial recognition or via fingerprint initially. You can use both with further configuration after the initial setup. Use: Typing this review on the laptop, I am overall happy. The keys feels just right to type on but are a little offset to the left since the home, pg up, pg down and end keys are on the far right side. It takes some getting used to but is not a huge deal. The track-pad is wonderful. It feels high quality and is very precise. The touch screen is bright and responsive to touch. The screen is easy to move in different positions which is a pro or a con depending on how you look at it since it opens easily but will push back easily if you try to touch it in laptop mode. Design: It looks amazing. The ash silver model looks more brown and gold to me than ash silver. The gem cut is actually very practical and not just a pretty design. The power button is on the left corner which keeps you from accidentally pressing it. The right corner has a second USB C connector which keeps the charger out of the way. The screen is bezeless on the sides but has a large chin and forehead. My main problem with use is when it is in tablet mode. It is kind of hard to use as a tablet since the new gem cut design creates lots of rough edges. This makes it somewhat uncomfortable to hold in your hands as a tablet. Therefore, it is somewhat difficult to take notes on. The fingerprint reader is a nice touch but it sometimes takes a few tries. I seem to have better luck unlocking with the face recognition. Weight is not too heavy and can be help for long periods. Display: The color reproduction feels good enough and I tried to edit some photos on it with no issue. The blacks are a little bright which affects the overall contrast. It is a 1080p display but this is more than adequate for a 13 inch laptop. I couldn’t find what % of sRGB it supports but colors seem vibrant enough for me. The display is bright and crisp. Battery: HP claims there should be close to 22 hours of batter life. I don’t see that at all. I am getting more like eight hours or so (not timed, estimate) but that is way more than enough for me. It will easily last all day Performance: I was a little concerned with having 8gb of RAM vs 16 gb but in practical use, this is one zippy laptop! The 8th gen Core i7 is plenty fast for most of my needs including photo editing. It only has a Intel 620 GPU so simple gaming is ok but I wouldn’t push it too hard. The SSD is extremely fast and I attached a screenshot of Crystaldiskmark and Geekbench to show performance. For the average user, this computer is more than fast enough, for a power user it should meet most of your needs. Audio: The speakers are great on this baby. This is the first convertible laptop I have had where you get great sound in both laptop mode and in tablet mode. The speakers fire on both sides of the keyboard section so no matter the orientation it will sound great. As for headphones, the output is clean and static free but it only supports 24bit 48000hz. For most people this is no issue but for some who listen to high res audio it might be a bit lacking. Connectivity: You will find a good number of ports here. There is a USB A 3.1 port of the left side, the right side has two thunderbolt USB C ports. Either can be used for charging. There is also a micro SD card slot. I tossed a 256 gb card in there for music storage and it works great. It is a cheap and easy way to effectively double your hard drive space. There is a 3.5mm headphone jack and a switch to turn off the web cam as well. Bluetooth 5 is present and works well as well as a Intel 9560 WiFi chip which works great via AC networks. In summary, this laptop is a head turner. It looks amazing, especially if you like gold. The laptop meets 90% of my needs and I am very happy with it. My only changes I would fix if able are better keyboard placement, higher res audio output, and a little more curve on the edges for tablet mode. These are minor gripes and this is a solid laptop.

    I would recommend this to a friend

  • Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

    Gorgeous and powerful 13" laptop

    Posted
    Kris1973
    • Tech Insider NetworkTech Insider Network

    Design (Faceted design, color): The new “faceted” design of the Spectre x360 this year is incredibly striking. I also really like the positions of the power button and the USB-C port on the “cut” corners. It makes the power button easy to find by touch and plugging the laptop in is a little less obtrusive. The whole design and feel of the laptop feels very high-end. The “Dark Ash Silver” itself is understated, but the copper accent on the facets is attention-getting. I like it, but I believe the “Poseidon Blue” looks a little more understated if that’s more your style. Keyboard/Touchpad: The keyboard is a joy to type on. The keys are responsive and the entire keyboard feels very sturdy. The key travel distance is just right (at least for my typing style) while still keeping the laptop acceptably thin and light. (I’m looking at you, Apple!) I’m writing this review on it and it makes me annoyed to have to go back to the keyboard on the MacBook Pro I use for work. The touchpad is practically perfect. It’s a nice size and the surface is pleasantly matte. My only complaint might be that the pressure necessary to register a physical click is a bit on the high side, but I usually tap rather than click so it’s not a dealbreaker. Display (1920x1080 - low power panel) The new low power - 1W 1920x1080 panel in this year’s model contributes to the “all-day and then some” battery life claims. It is wonderfully bright and clear. I was worried that I would miss the extra pixels compared to the MacBook Pro but I think 1920x1080 is the sweet spot between overly pixelated and a lot of extra work for the graphics card for no real benefit. I’m also very glad to have a touchscreen at my fingertips, so to speak. Audio I was blown away (almost literally) when the x360 booted up for the first time. The speakers are loud and clear. I don’t normally ask my laptop to make a lot of noise but a few tests with music and movies left me impressed. Ports (USB-C location) Two Thunderbolt 3.0 ports (USB-C 3.1) and a USB-A 3.1 are good if you like to have peripheral options without a dongle. A headphone jack and a Micro-SD card slot round out a pretty standard set of interfaces CPU/Performance (“Whiskey Lake”) The 8th Generation i7-8565U and on-chip Intel UHD Graphics 620 is more than powerful enough for everything I’ve thrown at it so far including 3D rendering (Daz3D), photo editing (Photoshop/Lightroom CC), very light gaming (Minecraft) and the standard web browsing, document editing and video watching. 8GB of RAM is fairly standard for a modern laptop and does the job. If you like to have a lot of programs running at once or like to dabble in running virtual machines on your laptop it might be worth seeking out one of the 16GB models but 8GB is roomy enough for most. Fingerprint reader Putting the fingerprint reader back on the top of the deck by the keyboard is a welcome change from the previous model’s use of a side-mounted fingerprint reader. I’ve been using it for a couple days now and it hasn’t let me down yet. Pen The pen (included non-tilt version) is where I encountered my first issue with the x360. It has a nice feel and initially worked very well on the screen for note taking, photo editing and sketching. Unfortunately it has stopped working after about a day’s use. I’m suspicious that the included AAAA battery has died, though I can’t be sure whether the battery or the pen is the problem. I will find out more when I can finally track down a new AAAA battery to attempt. Webcam kill switch This is a great feature for those of us who don’t really use a webcam for much and are fond of taping over the webcam for security reasons. The switch turns the webcam off, supposedly at the BIOS level, and removes some of the worry of having your webcam secretly activated (or joining a web conference from home office and having video of you in your bathrobe accidentally popping up for your coworkers). Battery life I’m not sure I believe the 22 hour battery life claims HP is making for this laptop for real world use, but I have yet to be able to kill the battery after a couple days of testing. Today I’m four hours off the charger with light web surfing and the battery is at 80%. Software As someone who bounces back and forth between Windows, MacOS and Linux as an occupational hazard, I’m not generally a big fan of Windows bloatware and the extra effort one has to put in to make things run smoothly on Windows. However, HP does a passable job of keeping the bloatware to a minimum and I think this is about as quickly as I’ve gone from pulling a Windows laptop out of the box and getting it set up the way I want it.

    I would recommend this to a friend

  • Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

    Great, powerful convertible

    Posted
    aarondr
    • Tech Insider NetworkTech Insider Network
    • Top 250 ContributorTop 250 Contributor

    There is no doubt about it, the HP Spectre series is one of the most prolific and well known ultrabooks/convertibles. This latest iteration brings not only a nice visual refresh, but also Intel’s Whiskey Lake platform which replaces the previous Kaby Lake R. There are also a few key differences between this model and the previous which might make this the right choice for you. First of all, this model comes in a nice box that looks rather chunky compared to what you’d expect. Inside the box you’ll find a sleeve designed for the Spectre that has a holder for the included pen. I’m excited that manufacturers are including niceties like this - and HP’s sleeve is quite nice, with a simulated leather externally and soft interior. Speaking of the included pen, it appears to differ from previous models in that it doesn’t use USB-C to recharge, but rather it is powered by a single slim AAAA battery. This is taking a cue from Microsoft whose Surface Pen is also powered by the same battery. I’m not sure if this was a cost saving measure or what, but it does seem like a bit of a regression. The pen itself is a n-trig unit with the standard two side buttons. There is no eraser here or other button. We do have pressure sensitivity, which seem to work well, however I’m no artist so I can’t really weigh in on it other than through basic sketches. It does not appear to support tilt. Also inside the box you’ll find the included USB-C 65w power brick. This power brick has a braided cable that feels quite durable and solid. Time will tell how it holds up (some braided cables snag and then unravel, but no doubt that HPs feels higher quality that most), but it’s a welcome feature for me. The power brick does include a ground plug (3 prong outlet). Once you take the laptop out you’ll be immediately hit with its color. The ‘Dark Ash Silver’ definitely falls somewhere between an ebony and dark brown with a trim color that is a dark gold color. The sides highlight this polished metal color, along with the hinges and HP logo (speaking of - HP that logo is macho - I say using my best Lego Batman voice). The material of choice here is gem-cut anodized aluminum, which means the finish should hold up reasonably well compared to painted chassis. The build quality is impeccable - with a solid feeling and rigidity that only comes from metal chassis. The sides play into the previous generation’s hinge design (which has carried over) feature of jutting angles. Thost angles have been further extrapolated as corner cuts angling at the rear of the laptop. This offers up a unique design feature of having both the charging port and power buttons angled away. This keeps you from accidentally hitting the power button while on the other side keeps your power port from interfering with your mousing area or other port usage. Due to the various size issues that come into play with USB-C dongles, this is wonderful. Speaking of USB-C, you get the angled port that supports Thunderbolt 3, followed by a small pinhole for the charging LED, 3.5mm AHJ combo headset jack, another USB-C Thunderbolt port, a camera off switch, and finally a MicroSD card reader. The left side offers the power button and a USB-A 3.0 port, a welcome addition in such a thin machine which means plugging in a thumb drive doesn’t require a dongle. Opening the laptop up you’ll be greeted by a 13” IPS 1080p screen flanked by 2-3mm bezels. These thin bezels help maintain a very compact form factor: fitting in my Fossil man bag that otherwise could only hope to contain a 12” Macbook. Overall dimensions are: 12.16” x 8.58” x 0.57” at less than 3lbs. Of course the thin bezels on the side are paired with nearly 1” thick bezels on the top and bottom. It's clear that we’ve reached a point where 16:9 is no longer serving the design and engineering of convertibles well. Comparing this to something like the Surface lineup’s 3:2 aspect ratio or even older 16:10 it seems obvious that there is opportunity here for HP and other manufacturers to start pushing towards aspects that can be not only more useful for convertibles, but also decrease these unsightly bezels. The keyboard found inside is generous in its travel and feels pretty good. Compared to an Apple butterfly keyboard, the travel is at least double. The keys feel more comfortable for longer typing sessions, and they are dead silent which is probably a boon to some. The keyboard is backlit in white, with two brightness settings (low and high). The font on the keyboard is oversized compared to previous versions. Below the keyboard is a oversized trackpad that stretches from the spacebar through over half of the right Alt key. This trackpad, like most recent Windows laptops, is excellent. You get a solid smooth surface and built in Windows gestures like three and four finger swipes. Flanking the trackpad on the right is the fingerprint reader which supports Windows Hello. Unlike the previous version of this convertible, the fingerprint reader is more conventional. The previous iteration placed this sensor on the side of the notebook. Some might not like this change, but frankly it’s not a big deal, because just like the Surface lineup - the HP Spectre includes an IR camera they dub the HP Wide Vision FHD IR Camera. This enables Windows Hello facial recognition which is the shiz. Trust me, it’s amazing, and you’ll want to use it. Just like the iPhone X, Windows Hello w/ IR camera can log you in with your face. Microsoft was doing this years before Apple and it shows, as it flawlessly logs you in just by looking at your laptop. From a technical standpoint, big update is Intel’s Whiskey lake platform. Besides conjuring up images of dark liquor, it offers several hardware mitigations for Meltdown and Spectre exploit variants (google if you don’t know, it was a huge todo). It also brings the Intel 9560 WiFi and other platform enhancements. Other than that, it’s not as big an update as Kaby Lake R, which it is closely patterned after. You get the i7 8665U, which offers 4 cores 8 threads at an astonishing 4.6GHz boost. Of course you need to be plugged in to get these crazy high boost clocks, but the HP chassis helps maintain boost clocks relatively well while maintaining a non-vacuum level fan noise. The 4.6GHz boost puts this half inch thick machine in good company. In Cinebench R15, the single-threaded score (184) comes within spitting distance of my overclocked 4.6Ghz 7820x desktop (195). The multithreaded score puts up a valiant fight against 95W desktop CPUs of last generation with it’s score of 630. The score are much more consistent than what I’ve observed with my work laptop (a Surface Book 2), where concurrent runs of Cinebench maintain scores within a margin of error. It does come at the cost of living at the edge however, as temperatures of the package and CPU cores on the Spectre routinely can reach 100C (212F) when operating in High Performance mode. While this is within the specs of the operating temperatures of the CPU, it’s something to consider. Like I said, the Spectre gets away with this without sounding like a vacuum, so that’s a plus, and it never goes above the 100C mark during load, but yet maintains >4.0GHz clocks across all cores. Storage wise, you get a 256GB WDC SN720 SSD. This is an M.2 NGFF PCIe x4 drive which maxes out the PCIe 4 lane bus at over 3 GB/s, but writes come in at around half that (1.6 GB/s). This is definitely a drive that keeps up with other OEM drives (like the PM961 from Samsung), but is a cut lower than say the WD Black drives or Samsung Evo/Pro drives. Storage performance does hum along at a good clip, so it’s hard to complain. Battery wise, I have no real complaints. Like most recent Windows laptops, HP claims a high number of hours, obviously with specific optimal conditions. Day to day battery life here is around the 8hr mark give or take depending on load. It’s not bad for a thin and light laptop, but it’s far from the 20hrs I’ve seen in some marketing material. Then again, realistically 8hrs on battery alone is pretty impressive considering the amount of processing power on tap. So what could be better? The screen: in both aspect ratio and brightness level. It’s not horrible by any means, but it’s not nearly as bright as what you’d find on an Apple or Microsoft premium machine. At least both the viewing angles are good, and the screen appears to not exhibit any nasty PWM (flickering of the backlight on lower brightness levels). The panel used here is shared between the Spectre Folio (referenced observation from a forum on tabletpcreview.com) and is a lower powered screen from AU Optronics called the AUO572D. If screens are your thing, you won’t be impressed. However if you’re already used to a 1080p screen at 13”, this unit will be perfectly fine for you. In fact, 1080p is still my sweet spot here, as I can get away with 100% scaling in windows which still is more compatible than scaling with a higher resolution. Another item is sound. While the 4 Bang & Olufsen speakers found in the chassis can get loud, they cannot get deep. What you end up with is rather tinny sound, even if it’s loud. It’s hard to get too cranky about this is a chassis this small, but there are other manufacturers who can somehow get this to be a bit more balanced. The USB-C support for charging also needs work. Both the F.06 (shipping BIOS) and F.08 BIOS if I use an Apple USB-C charger, or any other USB-C charger the computer doesn’t just reject it, it locks up cold. Perhaps a newer bios will fix these issues, otherwise you’re tied to the included power brick and/or other HP accessories. The Spectre X360 13-ap is a great example of a wonderfully engineered computer that has evolved it’s already superb design in the past couple of year.

    I would recommend this to a friend