The new HP Specter 13 x360 is an interesting ultraportable. Like its predecessor, which we tested a year ago, it is at the top of the HP product range alongside its non-convertible Specter brother. And like many laptops released in the past few months, it is powered by the latest 8th generation mobile quad-core CPUs from Intel. However, as it turns out, not every 8th generation laptop is the same.
HP likes to talk about the Specter's 360-degree hinge and the four possible modes that have been astonished, including standard laptop mode, tablet mode, and essentially two different stand modes. It's nice to have these modes (similar to a competing yoga), but in 95% of the cases I use convertible systems in laptop mode. It may be different for some buyers, but I use the Specter x360 almost exclusively as a laptop.
And there's really nothing to complain about, because while the x360 has a flexible hinge, its tablet and standing capabilities do not affect its usability as a laptop. The engineers have probably taken care of the intricacies of the hinge and as a result the hinge works really well, but this is still a great laptop if you never use the hinge to its fullest.
The reason why it is so good depends on a number of factors. Like its predecessor, the new Specter x360 is super slim and quite light. In fact, this newer model is 0.2 mm slimmer, 13.6 mm thin and 1.3 kg heavy and is perfect for a laptop of this size.
Another factor is the build quality, and that's exactly what you pay for with a laptop at this price. If I spend at least $ 1,000 on a machine, I want a nice metal construction, and HP has delivered one of the best chassis on the market here.
The style is modern, clean and made entirely of aluminum. The unibody construction feels strong and reliable. The matte finish looks fantastic and resists fingerprints. The glossy black glass that surrounds the display complements everything quite well.
Slim laptops usually have some compromises, and this is the case with the Specter x360. You get two Thunderbolt 3 ports with four PCIe lanes, each of which can be used for charging, but only one USB-A port and no full-size SD card slot, though there is a microSD slot. A second USB-A port would have been ideal for those who already have a lot of USB-A accessories, and a suitable SD card slot would have been even better.
The speakers are also average with their Bang & Olufsen branding. On a more positive note, HP has integrated two forms of Windows Hello authentication with this latest Specter: face recognition and a fingerprint reader on the edge. The position of the fingerprint reader is a little strange, although it's nice to have it.
The keyboard uses the same fantastic slim switches as most of HP's current laptops and offers a surprisingly clicking response to what is still a rubber dome design. The typing experience is pure joy on this computer, provided you have the option to include the up and down keys to the right of the enter and shift keys. The Synaptics trackpad is also not bad and appears unchanged compared to previous Specter devices.
As for the display, HP uses a semi-slim bezel design with thin edges on the left and right and larger control panels at the top and bottom. This type of design works well and has enough space for keyboard, battery, etc. without making the body too big. However, this is not possible on the Dell XPS 13 level, so the webcam can sit in a more appropriate position.
The display itself is available in different options. Most buyers will end up with the 1080p panel as I got it in my test device, although a 4K panel with top-end models is available. It is 13.3 inches tall and uses IPS LCD technology.
The display behaves similarly to the previous model: a maximum brightness of 301 nit, a contrast ratio of 1100: 1, a standard color temperature around 7500 K and an average color performance with grayscale, saturation and ColorChecker deltas between 3.0 and 5.5 . The colors are a bit more accurate on this new model, although this is not enough to make the standard performance suitable for professionals who require accuracy.
With a little light calibration, the Specter x360 can be reconciled with precise grayscale and colors across the board. However, this affects the brightness, with a reduction of 50 nit to peak values, and the contrast takes a small hit and drops to just under 1000: 1. To achieve this performance, you also need external hardware and software that is not particularly cheap.