HP Spectre x360 13 (Late 2019): Smaller, Quicker, Higher

HP Specter x360 13t (late 2019)

"With sleek bezels and an OLED display, the HP Specter x360 may be the perfect 2-in-1 device."

  • Tiny, beautiful 2-in-1 design

  • Strong productivity performance when needed

  • Spectacular OLED display

  • Excellent keyboard and touchpad

  • Solid build quality

  • The 4K OLED display shortens the battery life

The Specter x360 always had two shortcomings. Thick bezels frame the display, making it look dated, and a lackluster touchpad. In addition, it was an almost perfect 2-in-1 laptop. I was delighted to hear that HP's latest model aimed to address these issues with a laser-focused determination.

The machine I checked was on the top end with a 10th generation Intel Ice Lake Core i7-1056G7, 16GB RAM, a 1TB solid state drive (SSD) with 32GB Intel Optane storage and a to-die for 13.3-inch AMOLED display. The price was even more impressive – a cool <span data-placement = "deeplink" data-deeplink = "1" class = "dtcc-deeplink" data-cloudcity = "1" data-align = "" data-type = "textlink -deeplink "data-Merchant =" 5d7690f161b3f3001859bd59 "data-url =" https://www.bestbuy.com/site/hp-spectre-x360-2-in-1-13-3-4k-oled-ultra- HD -Touchscreen-Laptop-Intel-Core-i7-16 GB-Storage-1 TB-SSD-32 GB-Optan-Nightfall-Black / 76413% 26 cmp% 3DRMX "Data Title =" $ 1,800 at Best Buy "data-cta =" $ 1,800 at Best Buy "> $ 1,800 at Best Buy. Has HP managed to fix these two main issues without causing others?

Where's the whole laptop gone?

The new Specter x360 13 looks like HP used a hacksaw to cut off the top and bottom of the previous version's display and case. Seriously, the company took all of these "but just look at these bezels!" Comments to heart and did something about it.

The Specter x360 13 now has the smallest frames you can find in a 13.3-inch 2-in-1 case. The screen-to-body ratio of 90% even surpasses the Dell XPS 13, which triggered the madness of the tiny bezel. Yes, you read that correctly. The Specter x360 13 is flatter than the Dell XPS 13 (although it is 0.67 inches thicker than 0.46 inches thick) and almost the same width. It is an achievement.

The frames stay small thanks to the world's smallest Windows Hello infrared camera.

HP has also made no compromises, which made the previous version of the laptop so great. You will find the same beautiful gem cut design, only that it looks even better now as it is more balanced in all dimensions. Speaking of aesthetics: there are now two new color options that match the classic Poseidon blue: Nightfall Black and Natural Silver.

Amazingly, HP not only managed to keep the webcam on the display it belongs on – we see you, Acer Swift 7 and Huawei MateBook X Pro – but also the infrared scanner for Windows 10 facial recognition (something) that Dell XPS 13 cannot). This is thanks to the world's smallest Windows Hello infrared camera, which is miraculously 2.2 mm thin. There's still a fingerprint scanner that works perfectly if you'd rather go that route.

Fortunately, the excellent build quality remains the same. The new Specter x360 13 is just as stiff as the last one, and maybe even stiffer. The lid, the keyboard cover and the case back resist bumping and bending and give the laptop a high-quality feel that matches its first-class aesthetics.

Another bonus is that HP has kept the USB-A connector and uses a drop jaw mechanism to secure the connector on the left side. There are also two USB-C ports with Thunderbolt 3 support, one of which is in the upper right corner of the lower case, where it is out of the way when charging and connecting to a device. The microSD card is also retained from the previous version, which is a plus for creative types.

So far, I have not compromised on the new design. Heck, HP even managed to improve the thermal, with three heat pipes instead of just one (on the Iris Plus models), larger inlet and outlet openings and a few additional inlet holes under the keyboard.

A graphite plate is there to distribute the heat more effectively and you have the idea. The Specter x360 13 is not the thinnest device, but HP has used this extra space well to reduce heat and maintain performance.

The same excellent input options

HP has one of the best keyboards on its Specter laptops and has been my favorite for some time. The new Specter x360 13 has the same keyboard design with deep and spacious keys in a comfortable layout and two useful backlight levels. The keyboard has the same precise and snappy mechanism, although I've noticed that it's just a little stiffer. I think I would prefer the previous version, but the more I used it, the more I liked it.

Even better, the large-format touchpad now supports Microsoft's Precision Touchpad drivers. This is a huge advance over the Synaptics drivers that HP used before 2019. Now the touchpad is as good as any other I've used on modern Windows 10 laptops – eliminating the terrible palm rejection, inaccurate multitouch gestures, and sometimes unresponsive character of previous versions.

The display offers even more touch quality and is precise and responsive. It also supports the HP Active Pen, which is included and works well with Windows 10 inks and handwriting.

Finally, HP has retained the digital switch to turn off the webcam for extra privacy, which I like better than the physical switches on laptops like Lenovo's ThinkPad and Yoga lines. HP has also added a special button to turn off the microphone. This is another nice touch of privacy.

And then there's the lush AMOLED display

My test device was equipped with the first 4K AMOLED display, which was installed on a 13.3-inch laptop. It is a smaller version of the Samsung panel used in the Specter x360 15 (and some other laptops like the Dell XPS 15 and the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme Gen 2). As such, it's just spectacular.

If you are a creative professional who demands brightness and color accuracy, you will like this display. Even the MacBook Pro has a hard time comparing. The Specter is bright at 405 nits and has a wide color gamut (100 percent of sRGB and 98 percent of AdobeRGB) as well as excellent color accuracy, making it ideal for photo editing. Due to the OLED, contrast and black levels exceed everything you can see on a conventional LED screen. This makes everything look spectacular, from simple surfing on the Internet to videos.

If AMOLED is not your cup of tea, you should use the excellent 1080p 1 watt display instead. The latter is probably the best choice for most people, as it promises spectacular battery life, yet is bright and rich in contrast.

A small compromise, which is required by the smaller bezels, concerns the sound system. Instead of four speakers, two below the display and two below on the bottom of the case, there are now only the latter. They still offer very good sound with lots of volume, excellent highs and mids and maybe just a little less bass. I thought the audio quality was fine for such a small laptop. Good headphones are always preferable, but they do get you to the movie occasionally.

Performance remains under your control

My test device was equipped with the 10th generation Ice Lake Core i7-1056G7, a fast quad-core CPU that, according to Intel, uses artificial intelligence to accelerate certain tasks (e.g. image recognition). I didn't notice the latter, but I was very happy with the performance of the Specter x360 13. Nevertheless, it was a bit slow in the synthetic Geekbench 4 benchmark and fell under the latest Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 with the same chip.

The Specter x360 13 also lagged behind the Dell in just under six minutes in our real handbrake test, which encodes a 420 MB video for H.265, compared to the Dell with just over 4.5 minutes.

HP’s HP Command Center app helps you optimize performance. Performance mode increases heat and noise, and sleep mode is perfect for working in a library. In performance mode, the Specter x360 13 completed the handbrake test in less than four minutes.

I really enjoyed how quiet the Specter x360 13 stayed during my tests.

The Specter x360 13 cannot keep up with the Dell XPS 13 with six cores in pure CPU speed. However, it does offer excellent overall productivity performance in any mode you choose, as well as improved Iris Plus graphics that perform better in creative apps that support the GPU.

I really enjoyed how quiet the Specter x360 13 stayed during my tests. The bottom of the chassis was always a little warm. That's what I'm looking for in a laptop – one that I can work with at night without disturbing my wife – and the HP offers it.

Speaking of Iris Plus: It offers gaming performance that lies somewhere between the integrated Intel UHD 620 graphics and the Nvidia GeForce MX250 – and is closer to the integrated graphics. This means that it is hardly able to play older titles and e-sports games as long as the resolution or graphic details are not set too high. I ran Fortnite and saw only 12 frames per second (FPS) at 1080p and high detail. Ouch.

Good battery life … for 4K

HP has retained the same 61 watt-hour battery capacity as the older version. So if you choose the 1080p display, you get an impressive battery life. You'll likely get the same longevity as the previous version, some of the best we've seen after over 17 hours of walking our Test Avengers trailer and nearly 13 hours of web browsing.

Buy the full 1080p model if you don't want to carry a charger around with you.

Yes, I know it's strange to start this section on a configuration that I haven't checked. Here's the point: I don't want you to believe that you can't get great battery life with this 2-in-1 device. And that is exactly what you would think if you oriented yourself to the results that I achieved with the AMOLED display.

In short, the AMOLED version is not the most durable 2-in-1 version. I saw less than six hours in our web browser test, two hours less than the Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 with its Full HD display. The Specter x360 13 only took 9.5 hours to go through our test video, in which premium laptops routinely run much longer. The HP did well in our CPU-intensive Basemark web benchmark test after almost four hours, but this test is not affected so much by the display.

This is by no means an all-day laptop. You may get six hours or less and less if the majority of your work has a lot of white content. OLED consumes more power when displaying white and colors than when displaying darker screens with the pixels turned off. Just buy the 1080p model if you don't want to carry a charger around with you.

Our opinion

The Specter x360 13 is now better than ever and it was pretty darn good. It's fast, has the potential for premium battery life if you choose the Full HD display or the best display of a 13.3-inch 2-in-1 display if you choose the AMOLED panel , and it is beautiful and solid. It is also quite small, fits in tight spaces and takes up very little space anywhere else. There's very little you don't like about this 2-in-1, and it's worth its premium price.

Are there any better alternatives?

The Dell XPS 13 is a faster option thanks to its optional 10th-generation Intel Comet Lake CPU with six cores, but the graphics aren't that fast. The option for an OLED screen and 2-in-1 functions is also missing.

The closer rival is the Dell XPS 13 2-in-1, which has the same CPU and costs almost the same price. The Dell doesn't offer an OLED display, but the 4K display is excellent and the 16:10 aspect ratio offers additional screen space. But first, take a look at Dell's low-travel keyboard. If you like traveling a lot on your keyboards, you may not like it.

How long it will take?

The Specter x360 13 is well built and has the latest and greatest components. It lasts for years, even though the industry-standard 1-year guarantee has expired long before.

Should you buy it

Yes. The Specter x360 13 is the best 13.3-inch 2-in-1 device on the market and also competes with the best clamshell laptops.

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