The Spectre x360 might be the best laptop HP has ever made. This 2.8-pound stunner sports a premium design and full 7th-generation Core i performance, plus an extra 4 hours of battery life versus the previous model. Plus, the x360 has a lower starting price of $1,050. Even though it’s a 2-in-1, the Spectre boasts a stunningly thin and light chassis for a 13-incher that’s even smaller than traditional laptops like the Dell XPS 13.
From top to bottom, the new Spectre x360 is the most striking 2-in-1 HP has ever made. And by shaving excess metal off from almost every side of the machine, HP also made the x360 one of the most portable 2-in-1s available.
What I love most about the Spectre x360 is how precise it feels. If the hard edges on its all-aluminum body were any sharper, they’d cut you, and the polished sides provide a great highlight accent to the Spectre x360’s large swaths of smooth brushed metal. Simply put, the Spectre x360 is one of the most attractive laptops on the market, 2-in-1 or otherwise.
However, if I had to nitpick, I’d say I wish the Spectre x360’s hinge were a bit stiffer. When the machine is sitting on a table in laptop mode or propped up in tent mode, it’s fine. But if you pick the 2-in-1 up and walk around, those little bounces sometimes cause the screen to slowly shift out of its original position.
Measuring 12.03 x 8.58 x 0.54-inches and weighing 2.8 pounds, the Spectre x360 is actually thinner than even the nonconvertible Dell XPS 13 (11.98 x 7.88 x 0.33-0.6 inches and 2.7 pounds), which is our current favorite overall laptop. Lenovo’s Yoga 900S has a smaller, 12.5-inch screen, but at 12.75 x 8.86 x 0.59-inches and 2.8 pounds, it’s still slightly bigger than the Spectre x360.
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I can’t wait for when we can finally ditch the boxy, USB ports of old for the slim, multipurpose USB Type-C ports of the future. But until that happens, we’re going to need both varieties in order to avoid carrying annoying dongles around. Thankfully, the Spectre obliges, with one USB 3.1 Type- A port and two USB-C ports that support Thunderbolt 3 and power delivery. That means if you have the right dock or monitor, you can use a single cord to carry video and data and recharge the system, instead relying on the bird’s nest of wires you’d need on older systems.
The one feature I kind of wish HP hadn’t removed from previous versions is some sort of SD or microSD card slot. For me, the Spectre x360 would be an almost perfect mobile photo-editing and presentation platform. However, in order to transfer photos from my camera to the laptop, I’d need to carry an external card reader or USB cable.
Featuring a new, glossy, 13.3-inch, full-HD display with superthin side bezels, the Spectre’s screen is a great complement to the 2-in-1’s gorgeous design. It’s bright and colorful, and when I watched the latest trailer for Rogue One, the Spectre x360 dazzled as crimson and verdant blaster bolts flew across the display.
On our tests, the Spectre x360’s screen put out 317 nits of brightness, which is more than both the Samsung Notebook 9 spin (283 nits) and Lenovo Yoga 900 (284 nits), and about the same as the more-recent Yoga 900S (320 nits).
The Spectre’s color range was also quite good, as the panel covered 101.7 percent of the sRGB spectrum. That beat out numbers from both the Yoga 900 and 900S, although the showing didn’t quite match the spin 9’s richer 135 percent
Finally, with a Delta-E of 0.74, the Spectre x360 demonstrated superb color accuracy (lower numbers are better). Both the spin 9 and Yoga 900’s accuracy scores were worse, at 3.43 and 2.8. However, the Yoga 900S was actually a touch more precise, with a rating of 0.64.
In addition to a revamped design, the Spectre x360 also features a new Intel 7th-Gen Kaby Lake CPU. You can choose either a Core i5 processor or a Core i7 chip like the one in our 2.7-GHz Core i7-7500u, 16GB of RAM and 512GB PCIe SSD-equipped review unit.
With this kind of setup, the Spectre x360 absolutely flies. Multitasking was a breeze, even with 20 or more browser tabs open. The convertible notched a Geekbench 3 score of 7,933, which means that overall performance increased by 16 percent over last year’s model. That also means the Spectre x360 tops almost all of its competitors, including the Samsung Notebook 9 spin (6,948), the Lenovo Yoga 900 (6,264) and the Yoga 900S (5,343). To be fair, though, those models used Intel’s last-gen chip.
The Spectre’s PCIe SSD is also blazing fast. When asked to copy a DVD’s worth of mixed-media files, the SSD posted a transfer speed of 318 megabytes per second. That’s faster than pretty much all of the device’s competitors, including the spin 9 (173 MBps) and Yoga 900 (181 MBps). It’s also on a par with more expensive hybrids such as Microsoft’s Surface Book (318 MBps).
For people who crunch a lot of numbers, the Spectre x360’s time on our spreadsheet test is pretty impressive. When we used OpenOffice to sort 20,000 names and addresses, the Spectre x360 (3:33) finished 30 seconds faster than its closest rival, the Samsung spin 9 (4:05).