HP’s Spectre line has always been one to offer looks and decent performance at a reasonable cost. After recently taking a step back and reevaluating its Spectre line, more specifically the 13-inch Spectre x360 2-in-1 laptop, a redesigned chassis, improved internals and a fancy stylus came to fruition.
With the x360, HP has made some significant improvements to the design and layout of various buttons and has even added microSD card support. For that, in spite of battery life that falls short of HP’s promise and an unusual keyboard layout, it’s easy to recommend this laptop.
Here is the HP Spectre x360 configuration sent to TechRadar for review:
CPU: 1.8GHz Intel Core i7-8550U (quad-core, 4MB cache, up to 4GHz)
Graphics: Intel UHD Graphics 620
RAM: 8GB DDR3
Screen: 13.3-inch FHD (1,920 x 1,080) touch panel (WLED, IPS)
Storage: 256GB SSD (PCIe, NVMe, M.2)
Ports: 2 x Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C), 1 x USB 3.1, 1 x microSD, 1 x 3.5mm audio jack
Connectivity: Intel 802.11 b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.2
Camera: HP TrueVision FHD IR webcam
Weight: 2.78 pounds (1.26 kg)
Size: 12.04 x 8.56 x 0.53 inches (30.6 x 21.8 x 1.36cm; W x D x H)
Price and availability
In the US, the HP Spectre x360 we evaluated is listed at $1,249 with what you see to the right. Through its website, HP also offers more affordable and far more expensive builds. The entry-level model of the x360 is currently priced at $979 for an Intel Core i5, 8GB of RAM, and a 256GB SSD.
In Australia, the model we tested isn’t available. Instead, you’re going to pay around AU$2,499 for double the storage, with a 512 GB SSD with the same processor and memory.
In the UK, HP offers a few more options, however for the same model we tested (save for, again, double the storage) you’re looking at £1,499. A slightly less expensive model with an Intel Core i5 and a 4K display is also available in the UK.
These prices are all competitive with the likes of the Lenovo Yoga 920 ($1,549, £1,349, AU$1,954) or Microsoft’s Surface Book 2 ($1,499, £1,499, AU$2,600), if not a bit more affordable to either model.
A smooth, silver aluminum housing wraps the entire body, broken up only by shiny buttons or speaker grilles. The material reminds us of previous Spectre’s, which unfortunately means it will eventually show some wear and tear.
On the left side of the laptop is a microSD card slot, a power button with embedded indicator light, a 3.5mm headphone jack, and a USB 3.1 port. On the right, you’ll find a volume rocker, fingerprint sensor, and two USB-C ports with Thunderbolt 3.
There aren’t a lot of ports, but having both USB Type-A and USB Type-C is a welcomed approach to eliminating some of the pain that switching USB standards can cause users. Either of the Thunderbolt 3 ports can be used to charge the laptop.
Measuring 12.04 x 8.56 x 0.53 inches (30.6 x 21.8 x 1.36 cm), and weighing 2.78 pounds (1.26kg) the Spectre x360 is lightweight and compact enough to tote around.
Upon opening the laptop, you’re immediately greeted with a rather large touchpad that’s smooth to the touch and has a reassuring click to it.
Above the keyboard is a rather interesting speaker grille. The design is fun to look at and allows more than enough sound to come through.
Just above that speaker grille are two hinges that allow the Spectre x360 to rotate 360 degrees to go from laptop to tent to tablet mode. The hinges are smooth when moving the screen, but do a bad job of holding it in place when tapping on the screen or typing away on the keyboard.
Instead of reaching up with one hand to scroll through some text, we find ourselves using another hand to hold the display still while interacting with its touch interface.
As part of reevaluating the Spectre x360 line, HP was able to shrink the bezels surrounding the 13.3-inch FHD (1,920 x 1,080) display. HP offers a privacy screen feature for an extra $60 in the US, but the unit we tested lacks this feature. The feature is supposed to eliminate coworkers or strangers from glancing at your screen and obtaining confidential information.
A full-sized keyboard sits just above the touchpad, only with an extra column of keys to the far right. The added keys serve as the Page Up/Down, Home/End, and a Delete keys.
This row continues to give us problems, as our muscle memory when doesn’t expect there to be anything to the right of the Enter and Backspace keys. Compounding the confusion is the fact the right arrow key lines up with the added row, instead of with the Shift/Return/Backspace keys as is normally the case.
Other than the added column of keys, HP has a winning keyboard. It’s smooth and the keys require little force for touch-typists.
A welcome characteristic of the touchpad is just how wide it is. It’s longer than the spacebar, making it easy to interact with when needed. It has a reassuring click to it, and is smooth when using gestures to navigate Windows 10.
The HP Pen
Included in the box is an HP Pen. The stylus works with Windows 10 Ink for drawing stick figures or jotting down notes.
In our testing, the stylus and Spectre x360’s interaction is seamless, with digital ink flowing from the pen with ease.
The lid of the pen lifts up to reveal a USB-C port used to charge the HP Pen. Having a hidden charging port that doesn’t require sticking the end of a stylus into a port like the Apple Pencil, or removing the lid and replacing a battery as required by the Surface Pen, is convenient and not nearly as awkward.
Adding to the convenience is the fact that you can use the same cable you use to charge the x360.