2015’s HP Spectre x360 was a great-looking convertible laptop. It was a well-designed premium Windows ultraportable, and it remained one of the most polished convertible offerings in Malaysia. But HP upped the ante when it announced a new iteration of the laptop recently: the new x360 isn’t just a mere spec bump: it’s slimmer, lighter, and even more portable than its predecessor.
The new Spectre x360 holds a lot of promise, and after using it as a daily driver for the past couple of weeks, it’s easily one of the best premium convertible laptops in the market right now. And, it’s priced pretty well too for what it has to offer.
One of the most immediately noticeable differences between the new Spectre x360 and its predecessor are the slimmer bezels: the left and right bezels of the display have shrunk considerably. This effectively reduces the footprint of the laptop, but in comparison to other laptops with slim bezels like the Dell XPS 13, the Spectre x360 still isn’t quite there – the top and bottom bezels remain like a usual laptop’s, giving it an awkwardly tall look.
Speaking of dimensions, the Spectre x360 is also thinner than its predecessor at 13.8mm; it’s also lighter, weighing only 1.3kg. Together, these make for a portable, light and sleek convertible laptop. It is pretty unwieldy as a tablet, however: the weight and narrow 16:9 display of this machine don’t exactly make it an ideal tablet.
Aesthetically speaking, the Spectre x360 is easily one of the most handsome convertible laptops I’ve come across: HP’s new logo – which is reserved only for the company’s most premium offerings – is used here. That, alongside the x360’s minimalist design, rounded edges, and polished sides combine to a really classy-looking device.
The hinge of the Spectre x360, on the other hand, could use some work. While it feels solid when switching between modes, it wobbles whenever I touch the display in laptop mode. In fact, even as I’m typing this review I can see the display wobbling a little bit. This is by no means a deal-breaker, but it’s certainly worth mentioning.
But perhaps one of the most interesting features of the Spectre x360 lies in its connectivity options. Unlike the many, many ultraportables released this year – I’m looking at you, MacBook Pro – the x360 has both USB-C and USB-A ports; a bridge between the past and future, if you will. While I still wish for an SD card reader, the USB-A port at least makes the #donglelife easier; I can then use an external card reader for work.
In the design department, HP definitely got it right with the Spectre x360. It’s sleek, it’s light, and it’s more portable than other 13-inch laptops in the market (bar the XPS 13). So far, the x360 is a real treat on the surface, and it’s even more pleasant to use.
First things first: the keyboard, and the Spectre x360 has a gloriously good keyboard. The keys have enough travel to not feel limiting when used, and the tactile feedback is just absolutely great, which gives the keyboard a firm impression. I can imagine myself doing a lot of typing on the x360 without fatigue – which I eventually did.
The trackpad on the Spectre x360 is also pretty great. Although it doesn’t take advantage of Microsoft’s Precision Touchpad – relying instead on Synaptics – it works fantastically well. It is responsive the moment I lay my fingers on it, and it’s accurate too. Basically, for a Windows machine, this is one of the best trackpads around.
Although the glossy display of the Spectre x360 makes it rather difficult to use under bright sunlight, the display can get decently bright to make up for it. On a separate note, I would appreciate a higher resolution display, the 1080p panel of the x360 is more than enough. This is especially the case for a productivity laptop where battery life is a crucial factor.
Despite being only 13.8mm thin, I was pleasantly surprised by how quiet the Spectre x360 is. Even while gaming, I didn’t notice the cooling fans’ noise – though I believe this may be due to the powerful speaker setup more than anything else. As for heat management, the palm rest area doesn’t get warm at all in normal use, although it does get slightly warm when I’m playing a match of Dota 2 (naturally).
Audio quality of the Spectre x360 is pretty good as well; the Bang & Olufsen quad-speaker setup is certainly more than just for branding. It gets really loud at maximum volume, and there’s no noticeable crackling or buzzing when the speakers are pushed to its limit.
I thoroughly enjoyed using the Spectre x360, especially its very tactile keyboard, which was simply a joy to use. The best part is, I haven’t even gotten to the laptop’s best qualities; I’ll detail these in the following sections.
We received the Core i7-7500U variant of the Spectre x360 for this review, which is the highest-end offering in Malaysia. Needless to say, it offers processing power one would expect from a premium productivity laptop. Editing images and running multiple tabs on Chrome – I’m talking about more than 10 active tabs at any given time – was a non-issue for the x360.
Using the Spectre x360 for gaming, however, is where things get a little tricky. Naturally, I had to play a few matches of Dota 2 with this ultraportable, and although I can’t max out the graphics settings, the x360 ran the game very well. I then fired up Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, and that’s when the laptop started struggling – which, again, is perfectly in line with laptops without dedicated graphics cards.
This is where the Spectre x360 truly shines. Feeling optimistic, I set the laptop’s power plan to HP’s Recommended setting; I also activated Windows 10’s Battery Saver mode. With the brightness setting set to a comfortable level – plenty bright for indoor use, by the way – the Spectre x360 easily managed more than seven hours of usage. These include watching videos on YouTube, juggling between multiple tabs on Chrome, and the occasional photo editing.
Considering just how portable the Spectre x360 is, this is impressive battery life. I imagine the laptop can last even longer if I set the power plan to Power Saver. I’ve seen other users get upwards of 10 hours of usage with this laptop, too.
There is no shortage of premium Windows laptops in Malaysia, and the Spectre x360 has plenty of competition. One of them is the Dell XPS 13; arguably one of the best Windows 10 laptops in the market today.
The closest variant of the XPS 13 to the Spectre x360’s retail price is the base model, which goes for RM5,499 – that’s RM500 more than the x360’s base offering. For that kind of money, the XPS 13 offers similar hardware to the most affordable Spectre x360, including the same processor, RAM and SSD capacity, as well as display resolution. Then again, the base model of the XPS 13 does not offer a touch display; it is also thicker than the Spectre x360 (15mm vs. 13.8mm), and the fact that it’s not a convertible laptop.
Despite these shortcomings, however, the XPS 13 has a noticeably smaller footprint than the Spectre x360 thanks to its InfinityEdge display, which has virtually no bezels. Other than that, the XPS 13 also has more ports, including an SD card reader and two USB-A ports, although it only has one USB-C port; the Spectre x360 has two of these.
Aside from the XPS 13, the Acer Swift 7 is an interesting proposition too. Retailing at RM4,999, the Swift 7 costs the same as the most affordable Spectre x360 model, but it offers a slower Core i5-7Y54 processor; only USB-C ports, and a keyboard that’s not as good as the x360’s. It’s also worth noting that the Swift 7 isn’t as portable as well. Sure, it’s the thinnest laptop in the world, but it has a rather large footprint.
But, the Swift 7 does have its own winning qualities, such as its 9.98mm thin chassis; this is noticeably thinner than the Spectre x360’s 13.8mm profile. It’s also worth noting that the Swift 7 has better heat management, not to mention the fact that it’s a passively-cooled machine: there’s absolutely no fan noise from this machine.
If you’re looking for a convertible laptop similar to the Spectre x360, the Lenovo Yoga 910 also comes to mind. Much like the Spectre x360, it has minimal bezels; even less bezels than the x360, in fact. But because the Yoga 910 has a bigger and sharper 13.9-inch 3840 x 2160 display, it is physically bigger than HP’s offering.
There are two variants of the Yoga 910 in Malaysia: the RM5,199 Core i5-7200U model with a 256GB SSD and the RM5,999 Core i7-7500U variant with a more generous 512GB SSD. Evidently, the Core i7 Yoga 910 offers more value for money over the Spectre x360’s highest-end model, which retails at the same price but offers half the SSD storage. However, the issue here is…the Yoga 910 is not officially sold in Malaysia yet, although it was listed by a local online retailer several months ago.
The HP Spectre x360 is a solid, sensible, and most of all, polished convertible laptop. It hits all the right notes for what a premium ultraportable should be: there is no noticeable chinks in performance, battery life, display, as well as the keyboard and trackpad.
Although it is by no means an affordable machine, this is one of the best Ultrabooks you can find in the market today. And, in fact, it’s actually well-priced for a premium offering; its competition are priced in the same price range, after all.
If you’re in the market for a premium convertible laptop, the Spectre x360 is definitely worth a gander. Its great battery life, keyboard, and portability really make it one of the best convertibles in the market now.
More importantly, it doesn’t really suffer from the #donglelife problem, thanks to the addition of a USB-A port.
Photography by Terry Bass.