I’ve used numerous laptops over the previous 12 months, and a few of them are fairly good. MacBooks have capitalized on the “premium” feel and look over time, and I am going to by no means waste a possibility to rave in regards to the construct high quality of Dell’s XPS line.
However I’ve by no means touched a client laptop computer as massive because the Specter x360 14. The brand new Specter’s sturdy black physique, shiny accents, and boldly sharp edges make it a standout amongst convertible laptops throughout the board, even when it does not have a bunch of different excellent qualities — which, its 3:2 display screen and . From the packaged stylus to its nice efficiency and battery life, it completely does.
With a beginning MSRP of $1,299.99 ($1,589.99 as examined), the Specter x360 is definitely my new favourite 2-in-1 laptop computer. Right this moment’s market is crammed with succesful convertible objects that look good, work nicely, and a few do rather well. However whereas the Specter x360 14 is not an ideal laptop computer, it tops the pack in nearly each space. It is obtained a trendy chassis, premium panel choices, stylus help, a robust processor, and a fantastic battery multi functional. It is proof you could have all of it – for one value.
The HP Specter line is second to none on the subject of design, and this newest mannequin isn’t any exception. Like its 13-inch predecessor, the Specter x360 14 is manufactured from CNC-machined aluminum. Like its siblings, you may get 14 in “Dusk Black,” “Poseidon Blue,” or “Pure Silver.” Check out some photographs earlier than selecting your coloration as they every have very totally different vibes. The Dusk Black choice has a complicated, sweeping aesthetic that appears tailored for a boardroom. Poseidon is blue pleasant and I am going to in all probability go for mine.
Nevertheless, the accents are what units the Specter aside from different black laptop computer giants. Shiny trim borders the lid, touchpad and deck. The hinges share their coloration, as does the HP emblem on its lid. It is daring with out being obnoxious. The 2 rear corners are diamond-shaped, and one in every of them has a Thunderbolt 4 port on its flat edge. (There’s an audio jack on the perimeters, a USB-A, a microSD slot, and an extra Thunderbolt 4, which is an efficient choice—the trapdoor overlaying the USB-A port on the 13-inch mannequin is gone.) has been all beveled, making the pocket book seem thinner than it truly is (it is 0.67 inches thick). The cautious craftsmanship is clear right here – I am not exaggerating once I say this seems like ghost art work.
And, because the “x360” moniker implies, the Specter is a 2-in-1. At 2.95 kilos, it’s kind of heavy to make use of as a pill for lengthy intervals of time, however it’s smooth and simple to fold and the hinges are sturdy sufficient. Not like many convertibles, there’s hardly any wobble while you use the touchscreen. The show can be stylus-compatible; The Specter ships with HP’s MPP2.0 pen, which attaches magnetically to the facet of the chassis.
Regardless of its design similarities, this Specter seems to be fully totally different from its ancestor, and that is due to the display screen. The brand new mannequin sports activities a 3:2 show, which is 13 p.c taller than the 16:9 panel on final 12 months’s gadget. (It is stored the identical 90 p.c screen-to-body ratio.)
Microsoft’s Floor units have been utilizing the three:2 facet ratio for years, and I am glad the Specter line is lastly making the swap. Should you’re used to utilizing 16:9 shows (which many fashionable Home windows laptops have) and also you shoot 3:2 you will see what I imply. You’ve got considerably extra vertical house, which suggests much less scrolling up and down and fewer zooming out to suit no matter you wish to see. This makes multitasking quite a bit simpler with out including a lot dimension to the chassis.
This 3:2 panel might are available in just a few totally different types. My take a look at unit has an FHD choice which HP says ought to attain 400 nits of brightness. I measured it a number of instances, however it solely reached 285 in my testing—which is dimmer than I might count on to see from a tool at this value level. I’ve reached out to HP to see what is going on on and can replace this evaluation if it seems to be a bug. (In fact, 285 nits continues to be greater than sufficient for indoor workplace work.)
Along with the FHD show, you’ll be able to go for a 3000 x 2000 OLED panel (HP hasn’t offered a brightness estimate for this; laptopmag It measured at 339 nits) or a 1,000-nit choice with HP’s Certain View Mirror know-how, which makes the display screen onerous to learn from the sides. This can be a bonus for many enterprise customers.
When it comes to different specs, the bottom mannequin packs a 400-nit display screen with a Core i5-1135G7, 8GB of reminiscence, and 256GB of storage (plus 16GB of Intel Optane). Then, there are some upgrades you’ll be able to go for. My take a look at unit, which prices $1,589.99, retains the bottom mannequin’s display screen, however has a heavier processor (quad-core Core i7-1165G7) and double the RAM and storage. I feel this mannequin is an efficient selection for most individuals – it will get you a top-notch processor and an honest quantity of stratospheric storage with out an excessive amount of of a price ticket. If you wish to get fancier, you may get an OLED display screen and 1TB of storage (plus 32GB of Intel Optane) for $1,699, or the Certain View display screen and 2TB of storage for $1,959.99.
In fact, laptops aren’t only for seems to be, however you are not compromising on efficiency to attain this construct high quality. The Specter is verified by way of Intel’s Evo platform, which suggests it provides a lot of Intel-selected advantages, together with Thunderbolt 4, Wi-Fi 6, all-day battery life, fast boot time, quick charging, and dependable efficiency. Is. In my testing, it exceeded these requirements.
The system swiftly dealt with my heavy workload of Chrome tabs, downloads and streams with none points. Battery life was glorious; I obtained a mean of 10 hours of steady use with the display screen round 200 nits brightness. Meaning in case your each day duties are just like mine, Specter ought to make it by your workday with none issues. (You may get much less if you happen to go for an OLED panel.) The processor additionally contains Intel’s Iris XE built-in graphics. When you won’t wish to use them for critical gaming, they’re able to working mild fare.
Elsewhere, I’ve nearly no complaints. The backlit keyboard is quick with a strong click on – it is simply one in every of my favorites. The audio system sound good, with loads of audible bass and percussion. To the left of the arrow keys are a fingerprint sensor and a Home windows Howdy digital camera, neither of which gave me any bother.
Apart from the dimness, there are solely two issues I do not like about this laptop computer. They’re each minors; The truth that I’m even mentioning any one in every of them on this evaluation is a testomony to how glorious this gadget is.
The primary is the touchpad. It is fairly smooth and spacious (16.6 p.c bigger than final 12 months’s Specter x360 13) and handles scrolling and gestures simply fantastic. However it’s fairly stiff in comparison with a number of the greatest touchpads in the marketplace. The press required to bodily click on is so agency that I do it with my thumb more often than not. Just like the Dell XPS 13 and MacBook, there’s little to do with finger clicking. After I first clicked with the built-in buttons, I additionally needed to overcome some preliminary resistance to hit the actuation level (frankly talking, each click on felt like two clicks). The issue resolved itself throughout my second day of testing, however it’s nonetheless a hiccup I often solely see with cheap objects.
Secondly, bloatware. Many junk applications are preloaded on the Specter and lots of are pinned to the taskbar. Dropbox, ExpressVPN, McAfee and Netflix are all right here, and I obtained all types of notifications from them. It is an oddity at this value level, and popping up an affordable McAfee Alert on a Specter is like seeing a extremely ugly bumper sticker on a Ferrari. It does not take lengthy for this software program to be uninstalled, however nonetheless I am dissatisfied to see it.
However actually I solely have two complaints, and none of them ought to cease you from shopping for this laptop computer. It’s lovely to have a look at and a dream to make use of. I discovered myself utilizing it in my spare time as a substitute of on my private gadget (which is sort of by no means the case with evaluation items – I actually like my merchandise).
Once we’re evaluating a convertible laptop computer on the Specter’s value level, the massive query is the way it compares to the gold customary of Home windows convertibles, the Dell XPS 13 2-in-1. The XPS has just a few benefits: It’s kind of thinner and lighter, its touchpad is much less inflexible, and it has a extra modest look that some customers might want.
However the ball recreation for me is shut however clear. The Specter x360’s meticulous craftsmanship, stylish aesthetic, and three:2 display screen prime all of it. It additionally edges out the XPS in just a few key areas: The keyboard is extra snug, the battery life is best, and it has half the storage in Dell’s nearest-price configuration for this unit. The Specter’s smaller options that the XPS lacks — just like the bundled stylus, USB-A port, blue coloration and OLED choice — are the icing on the cake.
In case you are in search of convertible premium home windows with an aesthetic aesthetic, that makes Specter a no brainer buy. That is HP at its greatest; It’s a luxurious laptop computer in nearly each area. I am unable to think about this would possibly not be the following laptop computer I purchase.
Pictures by Monica Chin/The Verge