With premium laptops and two-in-ones like the 13-inch HP Spectre x360, it's almost a given that the newest model will be smaller and thinner than its predecessor. I have to say, though, when I saw the old and new x360 side by side, the size difference was shocking. The updated design eliminates almost all of the top and bottom bezels -- the forehead and chin -- allowing it to greatly reduce the overall footprint of something that was already pretty small to begin with. It looks amazing.
What's more, even at a smaller size, the x360 running a 10th-gen Intel Core i7 managed to handily outperform the last-gen model running a similar configuration with an Intel eighth-gen CPU. It also has a battery that kept it running for more than 10 hours in our tests. Combined with other helpful features and a refined design, the 2019 HP Spectre x360 13 is our current top premium two-in-one.
|HP Spectre x360 13 (late 2019)|
|Price as reviewed||$1,300|
|Display size/resolution||13.3-inch 1,920x1,080 touch display|
|CPU||1.3GHz Intel Core i7-1065G7|
|PC memory||8GB LPDDR4X 3733MHz|
|Graphics||Intel Iris Plus Graphics|
|Storage||512GB SSD plus 32GB Optane|
|Networking||802.11ax Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.0|
|Operating system||Windows 10 Home (64-bit)|
Like last year's model, the new x360 has angular gem-cut edges and cutaway corners that help it stand out from other premium ultraportables, but also improve functionality. The cutaway corners on the back edge are where you'll find the power button and one of the laptop's two USB-C Thunderbolt 3 ports. Since it charges via USB-C, the angled port allows you to charge the x360 while keeping the cord out of the way for using a mouse, for example.
The power button's position on the left corner makes it easy to find without looking and easy to avoid accidentally pressing in tablet mode. The button is also accessible regardless of how the display is positioned. Also, the dual-chamfer edges make it easier to grip and open the x360 from the front or sides.
The body's left side has a drop-down USB-A port and headphone jack, while on the right side, along with a microSD card slot and a second Thunderbolt 3 port, you'll find a kill switch for the webcam -- no more Post-it notes to keep your camera private. That's joined by a mic mute button on the keyboard, so you no longer need to dig into Windows 10's microphone privacy settings to shut those down. For additional privacy and security, there's a fingerprint reader and, according to HP, the world's smallest IR webcam for facial recognition sign-ins with Windows Hello. This basically one-ups Dell's world's smallest regular webcam on its XPS 13 2-in-1.
As for the display, I tested the 1,920x1,080-resolution panel, but there's also a 4K UHD (3,840x2,160) OLED display option that is factory color-calibrated. For productivity use, the full-HD display delivers good color and contrast, and brightness is improved for better outdoor use.
The keyboard is essentially unchanged from the last model, which is great news. It's spacious and has big, easy-to-read markings. The keys have a fair amount of travel considering how shallow the laptop deck is and noticeably more than the Dell XPS 13 2-in-1. The keyboard is backlit, too, with two brightness levels, and automatically shuts off after about 30 seconds of inactivity and needs a key press to wake it up. The Windows Precision touchpad is a comfortable size considering the space HP had to work with and performance is smooth and responsive.
Premium ultraportables are the way to go if you want long battery life. They regularly hit more than 10 hours in our streaming video battery test and some do better -- like the last-gen Spectre x360, which blew right past that, landing at 13 hours, 18 minutes. This new version didn't last quite as long on its slightly smaller battery, but was still impressive at 10 hours, 39 minutes. That's in line with the battery life HP reports for its streaming video tests. For local video playback over headphones, HP says this Spectre can run for a touch over 20 hours.
The Spectre's components are geared for average home and office uses like word processing, web browsing and email, but with enough muscle to push through more demanding work, including stuff that's more graphics-intensive thanks to its Intel Iris Pro chip.
The configuration I tested didn't get bogged down with a dozen tabs open in Google Chrome while other applications ran in the background. Streaming video and music were no problem either. And it'll handle more demanding photo- and video-editing tasks than Intel's UHD Graphics 620 and even a some low-end gaming (yes, it'll run Fortnite).
When I wrapped up my review of Dell's XPS 13 2-in-1 I said it was the ultraportable two-in-one to beat. The HP, in my opinion, beats it, but not by much. It's similar in size to the Dell and has an equally elegant design. While the XPS edges out the HP in our benchmarks, it's likely due to the Dell we tested having 16GB of memory to the HP's 8GB. Regardless, the numbers aren't drastically different, and the HP had a slightly longer battery life.
The HP edged out the Dell with features like the discrete webcam kill switch and mic mute button, including an active pen, having both a fingerprint reader and IR camera for sign-ins and a more comfortable keyboard, though that last thing is open for debate. You can also get it with 4G LTE mobile wireless, something Dell doesn't offer.
While there is the minor annoyance of having a bunch of software from HP and others preinstalled on this premium machine and you can't add more memory on your own, the overall package is just a bit better than the Dell in the end.
|HP Spectre x360 13||Microsoft Windows 10 Home (64-bit); 1.3GHz Intel Core i7-1065G7; 8GB DDR4 SDRAM 3,200MHz; 128MB (dedicated) Intel Iris Plus Graphics; 512GB SSD|
|Dell XPS 13 2-in-1||Microsoft Windows 10 Home (64-bit); 1.3GHz Intel Core i7-1065G7; 16GB DDR4 SDRAM 3,733MHz; 128MB (dedicated) Intel Iris Plus Graphics; 512GB SSD|
|Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga||Microsoft Windows 10 Pro (64-bit); 1.9GHz Intel Core i7-8665U; 16GB DDR4 SDRAM 2,133MHz; 128MB (dedicated); Intel UHD Graphics 620; 1TB SSD|
|Microsoft Surface Laptop 3 (Intel)||Microsoft Windows 10 Pro (64-bit); 1.3GHz Intel Core i7-1065G7; 16GB DDR4 SDRAM 4,270MHz; 128MB (dedicated) Intel Iris Plus Graphics; 256GB SSD|
|Apple MacBook Pro (13-inch, 2019)||Apple MacOS Mojave 10.14.5; 1.4GHz Intel Core i5-8257; 8GB DDR3 SDRAM 2,133MHz; 1,536MB Intel Iris Graphics 645; 256GB SSD|