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"Which Windows laptop should you buy?" That's no longer a tough question: these days, I almost always recommend a Dell XPS 13 or an HP Spectre x360. When these notebooks first hit shelves last year, they offered more style and performance than we'd ever seen for under $1,000.
In 2016, none of that has changed. The only difference is a new generation of Intel processors that are slightly faster. And I like it that way.
Update, November 2016: While this Spectre x360 is still on sale -- and this is the one I prefer! -- you should also check out my review of my review of HP's newer, slimmer model.
Starting at $999 (£849, AU$1,999), the 13-inch HP Spectre x360 has everything I need in a thin-and-light laptop. I don't ask for much: just a comfortable, lightweight machine with great looks, long battery life, plenty of speed and an excellent selection of ports.
I've been using the Spectre x360 for weeks now, and it ticks every one of those boxes. It's like an Apple MacBook Air with a slightly worse touchpad, but more connectivity and a far better screen -- one that bends over backwards to become a Windows 10 tablet in a pinch. Literally.
One big difference for 2016: there's a new 15-inch model that starts at $1,149. I tried both the 13- and 15-inch models, and they're practically identical. That's a very good thing. (From here on out, you can assume my notes apply to both models unless I specifically say otherwise.)
Why do I love HP's laptop? Keep on reading.
It's the last one that really astounds me. At a time when laptops are getting thinner and thinner for bragging rights, HP's designers showed restraint -- keeping the Spectre x360 thick enough to house a sizable battery, three full-size USB 3.0 ports, a full-size HDMI port, a Mini DisplayPort, a headset jack and still have enough room to fully enclose an SD card inside the frame.
(That's several more ports than we get on the smaller Dell XPS 13.)
The 15-inch Spectre x360 even adds a USB-C port, for those with compatible phones or PC accessories. Mind, you can't charge the laptop over USB-C, but the 15-incher also comes with a delightfully tiny power adapter to make up for it.
Sure, I've got a few nits to pick:
It's also slightly weird that the 13-inch Spectre x360 ran for only 10 hours on our battery drain test -- compared to 12 hours last year. I wouldn't worry, though: I got the same six hours of real-world battery life from both the 13- and 15-inch models, one of the best results I've seen from a machine this thin.
Really, that's about it. The biggest compliment I can pay the HP is that the complaints you see above are the only ones I have. And the only reason you should hesitate to buy one is if you're waiting for next year's model -- or if you really want a MacBook instead.