HP Spectre x360 Hands-on: Crazy Angles, Bonkers Battery Life

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HP's Spectre x360 line was already a stunning, gorgeous series of laptops. But somehow, HP managed to make its 13 and 15-inch 2-in-1s even more aesthetically pleasing while simultaneously adding some wicked functionality.

The company claims the 13-inch Spectre x360 (available starting in November for $1,149) will boast the world's longest battery life. Not to be outdone, the 15-inch model (November, $1,389) is said to be the world's most powerful Spectre. Overall, it's shaping up to be a great time to Spectre fan.

Design

HP Spectre x360 13 15 01

Whether it's a traditional clamshell or a convertible, HP's Spectres continue to be some of the prettiest laptops on the market. The ash gray and copper aluminum chassis is simply stunning and combined with their svelteness, they're showstoppers. The new 13 and 15-inch x360s carry on that tradition of loveliness.

However, in order to shake things up, HP literally cut some corners. A close examination of both systems reveals that the bottom corners have been lopped off. Aesthetically, it gives the laptops an edgy, geometric vibe that I'm digging, but HP snuck some functionality in by smuggling a USB Type-C port in the right edge. It's an effective method of cable management that allowed me to transition between the convertible modes without disturbing the charging cable plugged in. And if that's not enough, HP also plans to roll out the Spectre in a new color –– Poseidon Blue –– joining a growing list of premium laptops not afraid to play with color.

At 2.9 pounds, 12.2 x 8.6 x 0.6-inches, the new 13-inch is a tad bigger and thicker than its predecessor (2.9 pounds, 12 x 8.6 x 0.5 inches). The new 15-inch (4.8 pounds, 14.2 x 9.8 x 0.8 inches) is just a tad heavier than its previous model.

Display

HP Spectre x360 13 15 04

HP is offering two screen configurations for the 13-inch x360: full HD (1920 x 1080) and 4K (3840 x 2160). Meanwhile, the 15-inch will only be available in 4K. Since they're convertibles, all of the Corning Gorilla Glass panels are touch-enabled. Unfortunately, thanks to the fairly darkened room and garish red lighting, I couldn't gauge color or brightness, so we'll have to wait until we get both systems in for review.

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Specs

HP Spectre x360 13 15 03HP is positioning the 15-inch x360 as its most powerful Spectre ever, and I'm inclined to believe them. Equipped with an 8th Gen 1.8-GHz Intel Core i5-8565U processor with 16GB of RAM, a 512GB PCIe NVMe M.2 SSD and an optional Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 Ti Max-Q GPU, HP is targeting mobile and creative professionals. It's not ready to play with the likes of the Asus ZenBook Pro 15 or the Dell XPS 15, but at $1,389, it's a much more affordable option.

The 13-inch laptop has identical specs to its big brother, but instead of a discrete GPU, you get an integrated Intel UHD Graphics 620 GPU. You'll be able to do light photo and video-editing and some gaming, but not much.

Privacy

Both of the new Spectres have a bunch of features designed to keep your private information protected. There's a privacy camera kill switch that will allow consumers to electronically disable the camera when it's not being used. And in case you're worried about Peeping Toms and Nosey Nellies reading your display, the laptops can be configured with HP Sure View, a privacy screen which severely limits the viewing angles. That means that unless you're sitting directly in front of the display, it will be very difficult to see the display clearly.

Battery Life

HP Spectre x360 13 15 05I'm skeptical about HP's claim that the Spectre x360 13 has the world's longest battery life in a quad-core convertible. However, I'm willing and ready to be proven wrong. According to HP, the 13-inch Spectre x360 can last 22.5 hours on the Mobilemark testing.

But the company provides more reasonable battery estimates on the system's Best Buy datasheet, including 12 hours and 45 during mixed usage, 12 hours for video playback and 9 hours of wireless streaming. The 15-inch is estimated to last 17.5 hours on MobileMark, 16:15 for mixed usage, 14:30 of video playback and 9:30 of video streaming. To keep things in perspective, last year 13-inch Spectre x360 lasted 8:26 on our battery test, which consists of continuous web surfing over Wi-Fi at 150 nits of brightness. The Intel 8th Gen x360 15-inch endured for 8:41 while the Kaby Lake iteration tapped out after 5:20.

Bottom Line

HP knows how to tweak just enough make an already great laptop extraordinary. With just a color change and a seemingly small design and functionality implementation, the Spectre x360 has me excited. But I really want to see if HP can live up to its grandiose claims in terms of battery life and performance. If the hype passes muster, HP can position itself as the new king of convertibles in what is a very competitive market.

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