HP has set the golden standard for ultrabooks with its elegant and powerful Spectre lineup, going up against the likes of Lenovo Yoga and LG Gram who have also carved out quite the substantial market share for themselves. We had got the chance to review the 13-inch HP Spectre x360 last year and as my colleague rightly puts it, this HP ultrabook offered users the ultimate premium experience.
So, when HP reached out asking me whether we’d be interested in reviewing the Spectre x360 upgrade, well, I couldn’t just pass on such an opportunity. HP was kind enough to lend us the newest 13-inch Spectre x360 (2019) with an 8th-gen Intel Core i7 processor, 8GB of RAM, and 256GB of SSD. My ex-colleague Nikhil reviewed the predecessor to the “gem-cut” Spectre x360 last year and lauded the premium design, snappy performance, and the boatload of features that came in tow.
After having used the HP Spectre x360 (2019) for a couple of weeks, we explore how the new variant stacks up against its predecessor and whether it justifies the exorbitant price tag:
HP Spectre x360: Specifications
Before we delve into my experience with the HP Spectre x360, let’s take a quick look at some key specifications of this ultrabook:
Dimensions –>> 30.6 cm x 21.8 cm; 1.36 cm height
Weight –>> 1.26 Kg
Processor –>> 8th Gen Quad Core Intel Core i5-8250U/ i7-8550U processor
Memory –>> Up to 16GB LPDDR3 2133MHz
Storage –>> 512GB SSD
Display –>> 13.3” Sure View integrated privacy display; FHD IPS micro-edge WLED-backlit touch screen with Corning Gorilla Glass NBT (1920 x 1080 pixels)
Graphics –>> Intel UHD Graphics 620
Wireless –>> Intel 802.11a/b/g/n/ac (2×2) Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.2 Combo
Ports –>> 2 Thunderbolt 3 (up to 40 Gb/s, Power Delivery, DP1.2, HP Sleep and Charge); 1 USB 3.1 Gen 1 (HP Sleep and Charge); 1 headphone/microphone combo; microSD card slot
Operating System –>> Windows 10 Pro 64-bit
Battery –>> 60 WHr
HP Spectre x360: What’s in the Box
Just like its previous iteration, the new gem-cut HP Spectre x360 also comes packed in an exciting retail packaging with a leather cover for the laptop with a velcro flap (which is the best touch here and I love it), a power adapter, along with an attachment for international markets, and most importantly, the HP Pen. You also get a couple of extra tips for the HP Pen, which is great.
HP Spectre x360: Design & Build
Let me start off by saying that if you thought the design of the previous-gen Spectre was something, well, you’ll absolutely love the design of the new Spectre x360 that we’ve got with us here. It was my first instinct when I got the Poseidon Blue variant of the Spectre x360 in for review. It is a mesmerizing color, striking at first glance, and everyone on the Beebom team appreciated the same.
HP has always managed to intrigue and draw in users with its different design and colors, such that other common ultrabook options in the market seem bland and underwhelming. HP Spectre x360 invokes the same feeling for me, not just with its distinct color, which is then paired with gold accents all around, but also the all-aluminum gem-cut design which the company has adopted this time around. The gold trims reflect light from all sides and it’s certainly going to turn some heads. I know you think that the edges may scratch you or would chip off while carrying around, but I didn’t come across any issue of this sort.
Further, you will notice one thing about the HP Spectre x360 – it boasts quite a solid build but is still quite lightweight, weighing at under 1.3 kgs. While the previous-generation HP Spectre x360 kept the design fairly traditional, the x360 (2019) variant sees the company experimenting with sharp cuts and edges to further the appeal of the machine. I know it can be a bit overwhelming but I love the gold HP logo, as well as the gold hinges with the Spectre branding, that goes well with the blue demeanor of this ultrabook.
Apart from the blue-gold combo, I especially came to like the matte finish on the lid and the palm rests on the HP Spectre x360. If you think it gets smudged easily and will start looking shabby after prolonged use, well, I simply wiped it off with a microfiber cloth and was good to go. The hinges are really solidly built and the screen (which we talk about in-depth below) doesn’t really wobble, which is a great sign for an ultrabook.
Moving on from the design, the thing that pulls me towards the HP Spectre x360 has to be its 360-degree form factor. It’s flipping display can go from a traditional laptop form factor to being flat just like that. So, let’s take a look at the same:
HP Spectre x360: Display
HP Spectre x360 (2019) is a likable ultrabook in all aspects, but there’s a minor issue that restricted me from really fancying the display onboard. Talking about the specs first, well, the Spectre x360 features a stunning and vivid 13.3-inch IPS LCD screen, with Full-HD resolution. The Full-HD display is great and I don’t have any major complaints with it except for the brightness, which I seldom felt wasn’t high enough for my liking and I also would have loved to see an anti-glare coating to save me from white lights shining on the screen in some situations.
Also, the inclusion of a Full-HD screen with modest bezels on a premium ultrabook which costs over Rs 1,50,000 in India seems a little lackluster. HP offers a 4K nanobezel display outside of India and I would’ve loved editing my header images and stories on that crisp screen. It would’ve been a much better experience, while also justifying the exorbitant price tag.
Keeping all that aside, HP has put in a lot of effort to make this hybrid ultrabook attractive for users by offering a 360-degree hinge mechanism. You can twist and turn the display on this thing at any crazy angle you like and prop it up like a tent, read a book or draw using the HP Pen (which I found to be quite responsive) by completely folding it at 360-degrees, or watch Netflix by propping it on your bed – thanks to the sturdy hinge.
One of my favorite features of this ultrabook will also have to be the Sure View integrated privacy screen, which you can activate with just the push of a button on the keyboard and it shrouds your screen with a mysterious white layer. This is the perfect addition for users who don’t really like sharing what they’re working on with all those sitting around or nosy neighbors, who we’ve all met in our lifetime. It does turn down the brightness, but those seeing the screen at an angle won’t see anything, which is certainly a perk.
HP Spectre x360: Keyboard and Touchpad
Well, this is the most important section of a laptop review for me. The keyboard is integral for a good typing experience and can make or break a purchase decision. Well, I know the flat square keys on the HP Spectre x360 (2019) don’t look like much for the price and give off the vibe of being like any other laptop out there, but I found this keyboard to be pretty good. I mean, I won’t go to the length to say that it offered me the best typing experience to date but it was quite satisfactory.
The keyboard layout, as well as the keys, haven’t really changed as compared to the last generation variant and that means there are no surprises in the layout. HP has kept your keyboard layout pretty neat, not cramping unnecessary functions or keys on the deck. I’d say that it’s pretty comfortable to type on this keyboard. You might feel that key travel is really low at the start, but it’s enough for an ultrabook. I, however, didn’t like the soft-ish feedback.
I would also like to point out that the keyboard deck here is backlit, with three levels of intensity and is a welcome upgrade over its predecessor. There’s no flex to the keyboard deck and speaking from experience, I don’t expect the same from a Spectre.
Below the keyboard deck is the massive touchpad. Yeah, I say massive because we don’t usually see big touchpads on ultrabooks, which are all about saving space and cutting on features. However, the HP Spectre x360 isn’t messing around and you can check out this monstrosity down above. I prefer a soft-touch trackpad, having the same feeling as your laptop’s top lid, but the lack of Windows Precision drivers was a bit of a turn-off.
HP Spectre x360: Performance
The HP Spectre x360 is a powerful and versatile machine, which is powered by the latest Intel 8th-generation Whiskey Lake processor (up to i7-8565U, which is also the processor we’ve been using for this review) coupled with 16GB RAM at 2133MHz and a 512GB PCIe SSD for the lightning-fast boot times and the app loading times.
Intel Core i7-8565U is a quad-core processor with eight threads and a base frequency of 1.8GHz that was launched last year. It comes with the Intel UHD Graphics 620 integrated graphics onboard and no dedicated graphics card, which one might expect at such heftier price points. However, this is an ultrabook that’s made for productivity on the go and not gaming – for which you should check out the Asus TUF lineup we’ve recently reviewed.
In day-to-day usage, the HP Spectre x360 (2019) proved to be the perfect companion for someone like me who uses his PC for about 12-odd hours a day. The laptop runs Windows 10 out-of-the-box and even though users have their issues with the OS, this ultrabook did handle all the workloads quite well – all thanks to the higher frequency RAM and PCIe SSD.
Everything from browsing the Internet, watching movies hours on-end, editing stories and images on the HP Spectre x360 proved to be no biggie. The machine breezed through the daily tasks with ease, offering users a worthy contender for a plethora of ultrabooks in the market. I used Adobe Photoshop CC on this laptop every day for work purposes and it not only boots up really quick but also didn’t give me a hard time while editing.
As for benchmark scores, we didn’t spend a ton of time on them as we were already sure about the Spectre x360 (2019) being a performance powerhouse. Still, it does manage to score an impressive over 5,300 in single-core and 14,000 in multi-core on Geekbench. We also ran PCMark on this laptop and it managed to score around 3,000 points, which surely ranks it above average as compared to other ultrabooks available in the market.
HP Spectre x360: Camera & Biometrics
The HP Spectre x360 comes baked with Windows Hello face authentication feature, thanks to the integration of an IR camera above the display. Your ultrabook will always be looking for you if the screen is on and even when you’re not around. It certainly works as advertised, the unlocking process is pretty fast and works in dimly-lit conditions as well.
The Spectre also houses a functional webcam at the top, whose quality is decent enough for Skype calls and video conference. However, I’m someone who tapes the camera over privacy concerns and HP has taken care of the same with the inclusion of a privacy toggle on the side. And I adore this nifty addition.
If you’re a privacy enthusiast but still want to use the IR camera, then remember to flip your camera toggle on the right edge before logging in. I was frustrated one day since I had forgotten that I flipped the camera privacy toggle and couldn’t log in using Windows Hello.
Apart from facial recognition, you can also rely on the fingerprint sensor that’s available onboard below the arrow keys. I like the placement of the sensor here as it hasn’t been crammed into the trackpad, like my Mi Notebook Air, or the power button. The unlocking speed is also pretty good, so I have no complaints.
HP Spectre x360: Audio Output
Well, from the moment I saw the Bang & Olufsen branding on the speakers just above the keyboard, I knew I was in for a treat and the HP Spectre x360 didn’t disappoint. You have four speakers on this ultrabook – two downward-firing ones at the bottom and two above the keyboard under the speaker grills to create a more immersive audio experience.
It’s due to the aforementioned setup that I found myself glued to this laptop while binge-watching my favorite Netflix Korean dramas. These speakers output pretty crisp bass and treble, with the mids and highs being the most pronounced as compared to the lows. The tuning is pretty good and is better than your average laptop speakers.
HP Spectre x360: Connectivity & Ports
Turning our attention to the ports on the Spectre x360 (2019), well, HP has kept it quite minimal and carries forward its commitment towards USB Type-C ports. The gem-cut on the right houses one USB Type-C port and a lot of people are surprised by its placement, but I love the use of space and symmetry with the power button on the left. There’s also the 3.5mm headphone jack, another USB Type-C port, and a microSD card slot here.
While there’s room for a couple of extra ports, especially on the left side as it only houses the USB-A port, HP has decided not to clutter its premium ultrabook. Otherwise, we could easily have a mini HDMI or another USB-A port being included on this side. I didn’t come across any connectivity issues, Bluetooth or Wi-Fi, as well so that’s another good thing.
HP Spectre x360: Battery Life
Prior to using the HP Spectre x360, I had heard immense praise about the battery life on these machines. Even the company touts that you will be able to extract up to 8 hours of continuous usage and well, it does keep you going for a pretty long time without fail. HP has incorporated inside the Spectre x360(2019) a 60Wh battery pack and I was able to extract over 6-odd hours from the machine on any typical office day at 100% brightness, which is great for productivity buffs.
The display and speakers on the laptop also make it a desirable media machine, so you’ll find yourself watching Netflix or YouTube hours-on-end with the HP Spectre x360. I mean, if that’s not enough, you can turn down the brightness to extract even more juice from it, which is even better.
So, as you can see, the battery life on the HP Spectre x360 is pretty solid and you won’t have to run and fetch your charger quite often. The one thing that people find pretty fun and intriguing about charging this laptop is that the USB-C port sits at one of the edges, which makes it look pretty cool. It still takes
HP Spectre x360: Is it Worth The Money?
The Spectre x360 is possibly one of the most premium and attractive ultrabooks, with all the high-end features that we’ve come to expect from laptops in its price range. There’s not only powerful hardware backing the machine, giving it the power to roar through all tasks thrown at it but the Spectre x360 also has the design to match the same.
The gem-cut ultrabook exudes style and confidence, a quality of HP Spectre lineups that has always been the golden standard for a premium experience and is now being carried forward with the Spectre x360 (2019) variant. If you’re looking for the best-in-class and premium experience of all and have the money to spare, well, don’t even hesitate a split second to bring this ultrabook (starting at Rs 127,299) into your life.
However, if you’re the opinion that the HP Spectre x360 is too pricey for you, then don’t worry as a number of affordable, as well as equally premium ultrabook options, are also available in the market. My favorite pick of the lot would be Microsoft Surface Laptop 2 (starting at Rs 78,000) that would offer a similar but slightly underpowered experience. And if you’re looking to game a little on the go to cool down from your daily office work, well, the MSI PS42 (starting at Rs 76,000) is the laptop you should be considering over HP’s Spectre lineup.
–>> Elegant & sturdy build
–>> 360-degree form factor
–>> Solid performance
–>> Windows Hello biometrics
–>> HP pen stylus support
–>> Sound quality is great
–>> Amazing battery life
–>> Screen brightness issues
–>> Keyboard can feel mushy
–>> Touchpad lacks precision drivers