HP Spectre x360 (2019) review

By admin -

OUR VERDICT

HP has given the 13-inch Spectre x360 2-in-1 laptop a new lease on life with an attractive redesign, improved hardware and a massive boost to battery life.

FOR+

Stylus included
Good looking new design
Long battery life

AGAINST-

Expensive
Minor performance gains

The new HP Spectre x360 (2019) has clearly been designed to impress with its thin, elegant design, improved hardware and long battery life. And so, the tradition of greatness that the Spectre line has long established continues on.

With HP making some big changes to its design, this new 2019 model certainly has both a strong base to build upon as well as some high bars to stand up to. The HP Spectre x360 (2019) is just as thin and sleek and powerful as ever before, though perhaps with more up-to-date components, which always come with updates like this. Essentially, this laptop delivers unparalleled performance, thanks to powerful hardware, with smart and sleek design that many of its rivals couldn’t even begin to emulate as well as a hinge that delivers that 2-in-1 feature. 

Price and availability

Just like HP’s laptops, there is a quite a few different configurations for the 13-inch HP Spectre x360 (2019) with various specifications and prices to match. The base model comes equipped with an Intel Core i5-8265U processor, 8GB of RAM, 256GB PCIe SSD and a full HD (1080p) IPS touchscreen. This sells for $1,010 (£1,199, AU$2,499).

For the HP Spectre x360 loaded with an Intel Core i7-8565U and 512GB of PCIe SSD storage (with the rest of the specs the same), the price tag rises to £1,399. In the US and Australia, the RAM gets bumped up to 16GB for $1,330 (AU$2,799).

The US also has a configuration similar to the previous one but with a less speedy Intel Core i7-8550U processor for $1,180. Meanwhile, in Australia, you can get a Spectre x360 with the same components as above, but with a 1TB PCIe SSD for AU$2,999.

If you’re after a 4K screen, 16GB of RAM and 1TB PCIe storage, the price is £1,699. In Australia, you can get a 4K display, Core i7-8565U processor and 16GB RAM, but just a 512GB PCIe SSD for AU$3,399. It looks like this configuration is currently not available in the US.

Things are a little different in Australia, where there are two models that aren’t available in the US and UK. Both of these models include SIM card ports for using 4G mobile broadband. The first model costs AU$3,199, and includes an Intel Core i7-8565U, 8GB of RAM and a 512GB M.2 SSD. You can upgrade that up with 16GB of RAM and a 1TB SSD for AU$3,799.

​No matter whatever specs are most suited for you, it will be easy to find one of the HP Spectre x360 that fits you best. Though to make matters more confusing, not every configuration of the Spectre x360 is available in all markets, so you may find your choice slightly narrowed depending on where you live.

Design

While it is slightly larger than last year’s model, the revamped look of the HP Spectre x360 (2019) makes it a far more attractive 2-in-1 than its 2018 predecessor.

The design of the HP Spectre x360 (2019) has profited from some subtle changes compared to 2018’s model, most noticeably at the top left and right corners, which are now diagonal, giving the Spectre x360 a more unique look.

On the left-hand corner sits the power button, and the right sports an additional USB-C port. The speaker grille that runs along the top of the keyboard has an updated, slick design, and the speakers behind it are again supplied by Bang & Olufsen.

A new addition, the fingerprint scanner sits on the right-hand side right below the keyboard. This allows you to log into Windows quickly and easily by placing your finger on the sensor. The touchpad is centered below the keyboard, and it’s large enough for comfortable use.

However, in daily use, the touchpad isn’t quite as responsive as we would like, though on the whole it does fine with multi-touch gestures. Still, it isn't quite as smooth as the touchpads we’ve used on other laptops.

The keyboard, on the other hand, is much better executed. Despite the HP Spectre x360’s slim form factor, the keys offer enough travel to feel responsive and satisfying when pressed. There’s no numpad, but that allows HP to spread the remaining keys across the length of the Spectre x360, and they are decently sized, which is helpful to fast typers.

This also means that in laptop mode, the HP Spectre x360 (2019) continues to be a comfortable device to work on for extended periods of time. You might just want to pick up in an external mouse, rather than rely on the touchpad.

On the left-hand side is a single full-size USB-A 3.1 port, which is a nice inclusion as many of us still have devices not equipped with a USB-C port. Having this standard USB port means you can use older hardware without needing a dongle.

On the right-hand side are two USB-C ports – with one located on the diagonal corner of the HP Spectre x360 (2019)’s body. This is quite a strategic location to have it, as it means any peripherals (or the USB-C power cable) are angled away from you when in use.

Additionally, there’s an audio jack port, microSD port and a physical switch so you can disable the webcam, which again is a nice touch for privacy-conscious consumers.

As with all of HP’s x360 models, the HP Spectre x360 is a laptop furnished with a 360-degree hinge for its screen, which allows it to be used as a transitional laptop, as well as rotating it all the way back to be transformed into a tablet-like device. You can also set it up in tent mode (as an inverted V) and use it to watch media on.

The HP Spectre x360’s top-notch build quality means that the hinge feels solid when used, so you won’t have to worry about damaging it while you angle the screen into a variety of positions.

The laptop's 30.88 x 21.79 x 1.47cm (W x D x H) dimensions and 1.33kg weight make it effortless and comfortable to carry around, and it’s not that much bigger (or thicker) than last year’s model at 30.6 x 21.8 x 1.36cm and 1.26kg. Yes, the Spectre x360 is getting larger and heavier, but only by a little, and considering the specs upgrade (which we’ll get to in a bit), that trade-off isn’t too bad.

Screen and stylus

HP also seems to have improved the display since last year’s model, with the HP Spectre x360 (2019)’s screen looking much brighter and more dynamic than its predecessor. Our review model came with a 1,920 x 1,080 Full HD display that’s 13.3 inches in size. 

The display is protected by Corning Gorilla Glass NBT, which is essential for any 2-in-1 device to safeguard it from being damaged when in tablet mode. Naturally, it’s a touchscreen, and it works fine when you’re using a finger, though the HP Spectre x360 (2019) also comes equipped with a stylus (more on that in a moment) at no extra cost.

The screen panel utilizes in-plane switching (IPS) technology, which offers wide viewing angles. Since you can rotate the screen to set it in various configurations, this ensures that image quality remains high no matter what the angle the screen is positioned.

The HP Spectre x360 (2019) also has the HP Sure View technology built in. By switching this mode on, you can drastically limit the viewing angles, which is useful if you’re working in public spaces, as it makes whatever is on the screen hard to see if you aren’t sitting directly in front of it.

This feature can be turned on and off using the F1 button on the keyboard, and it works incredibly well, with the screen looking extremely washed out and unreadable when looked at from any angle. Looking at the screen head-on, the image is a little more washed out than usual, but still perfectly usable. Not many people will ever use this feature, but it’s still nice to have and works well.

There are also models of the HP Spectre x360 (2019) that come with a 4K screen. For many folks, a 4K screen on a 13-inch laptop might be a little too much. Still, it’s a welcome option. Though, as we mentioned earlier, the 4K option isn’t available in all markets.

In action, the screen does more than a credible job of displaying apps and media. Though it isn’t the brightest screen we’ve seen on a laptop, it does its job well. 

It’s worth mentioning that HP Spectre x360 (2019) has large bezels along the top and bottom of its display. It’s too bad as we’re used to laptops at this price point having extremely thin bezels - such as the Dell XPS 13, which gives you the most screen real estate possible while looking sleek and modern. In comparison, the big bezels on the HP Spectre x360 (2019) display feel a bit out of date.

The HP Spectre x360 (2019) also comes with the HP Active Pen stylus. It’s a sturdily-built device that feels great to handle and works swimmingly with the x360’s touchscreen. The fact that HP has included it with the Spectre x360 at no extra cost, when many of the other manufacturers don’t, could and should be a major selling point.

​We’ve tested the x360 over the course of a couple of weeks, and find it to handle almost anything we can throw at it. Switching between laptop and tablet mode occurs quickly, without any delay or stuttering as Windows 10 switches between modes.

Our HP Spectre x360 (2019) review model boasts an Intel Core i7-8565U processor and 8GB of RAM. The Intel Core i7-8565U is an 8th generation processor that was launched last year, with four cores and eight threads, as well as a base frequency of 1.80GHz that boosts up to 4.60GHz. It also comes with Intel UHD Graphics 620 integrated graphics.

While this isn’t powerful enough to run games on (unless you play less demanding games, or set all the graphical settings very low), it’s can handle watching and editing videos, as well as photo editing.

In our day-to-day use, the HP Spectre x360 (2019) performed well. It’s not the most high-powered laptop in the world, but it handles Windows 10, as well as browsing the internet, creating documents and doing some light photo editing, beautifully. 

For a 2-in-1 laptop, it offers a smooth experience. In our benchmarks, the HP Spectre x360 (2019) performed similarly well as the new Dell XPS 13 (2019), though Dell’s latest Ultrabook does have an edge here.

As a media-playing device, the laptop boasts an impressive performance, thanks to its vibrant screen and powerful Bang & Olufsen speakers. For students going away for college, the HP Spectre x360 is an alluring choice, thanks to its versatility. It’s powerful enough to be a productivity beast while also being ideal for entertainment.

Looking at the older version of the HP Spectre x360, you can see that the newer components in this year’s model have given the device a performance boost, albeit not a huge one. From a purely performance-based view, if you’ve got last year’s model, there’s no point in upgrading. But if you’re new to the HP Spectre x360 range, this year’s model is the one to get.

However, there’s an area that the HP Spectre x360 completely dominates the XPS 13 and pretty much all of its competition: battery life.

Battery life

HP has been bragging about this year’s Spectre x360’s battery life, and for good reason, as it manages an impressively long time between charges. In our battery benchmark test, during which we play a looped 1080p video with the screen at 50% brightness, the HP Spectre x360 lasted a whopping 12 hours and 37 minutes.

For an Ultrabook with these specs, that’s an excellent accomplishment, even beating the Dell XPS 13 (2019)’s 8 hours and 12 minutes. Sure, there are other laptops out there that boast longer battery life, such as Chromebooks, but they’re trading power and performance for longevity.

With the Spectre x360, HP has managed to produce a powerful laptop that runs full Windows 10 with a battery that lasts people beyond a full work day. That’s very impressive stuff.

It should be noted that the PCMark 8 Battery Life test, which replicates more intensive use, such as video calling and web browsing, lasted quite a bit shorter at four and a half hours. That’s to be expected. For most people’s general use – and with careful battery management – the Spectre x360 should last for nine hours, at the very least.

This is a massive improvement over last year’s model, which only managed 7 hours and 28 minutes during our original battery life test.

Final verdict

HP has created yet another excellent 2-in-1 device with this year’s Spectre x360. A refined design and upgraded internals make it a solid performer with the looks to match. If you’re in the market for a laptop which doubles as a tablet, this is a seriously tempting device.

Its build quality, design and performance go a long way, justifying its high price tag. However, there’s no denying that this is a pricy laptop. If you’re after a cheaper option, and can live without a device that can switch into tablet mode, then there are some very good mid-range laptops out there that will better fit your preferences.

However, we do like the fact that the HP Spectre x360 comes with a stylus, and there’s no doubt that it has one of the best batteries we’ve seen on a powerful Ultrabook.

So, if you’re after a slim and stylish 2-in-1 that will last you a whole work day, without compromising too much on power, then the HP Spectre x360 is definitely worth a look – if you have the funds.