The Ultrabook market truly is evolving. So much so, in fact, that one can now assume that when one manufacturer takes a big leap forward, other manufacturers are not far behind. We thought about this fact when HP's Spectre series released last year, as while the hardware was rather decent, "decent" didn't really do it. Where other manufacturers were cutting the screen edges at both the top and bottom of the screen, the Spectre line of products appeared almost obsolete as they released, sticking to the previous standard - and that's the simple reality when you're making moves in an industry that's moving as fast as the tech market.
Fortunately, HP has adapted and is now giving us a redesign of its Spectre series - the x360 series, specifically - and we're getting ready to add it to our 2020 award for most noticeable improvement because the new-look truly improves upon the old one in nearly every way.
First off, HP has decided to keep what made the x360 good in the first place, the so-called Gem Cut design. This makes the unit entirely angular, but this fact is deliberate and gives the machine a unique visual element. In fact, this style sits better on this variant than it ever did before. The entire construction is remarkably robust, offers pleasing lines and is, overall, a sleek and desirable product. Compared to the Dell XPS 13 2-in-1, for example, the difference is significant. The only thing that could be an annoyance for some is the obvious hinges that make it possible to turn the x360 into a tablet, but we didn't find them particularly distracting since the brushed aluminium fittings aren't exactly ugly to behold.
Overall, HP seems to have used the eraser tool when redesigning the new model, because the new version is simplistic both design and build-wise. For example, HP has cut the total weight of the x360 by 13%, making the laptop weigh in at just 1.27kg, which is less than a MacBook Air (which doesn't have the extra tablet functionality). Apart from this, HP has been able to cut part of the chassis without sacrificing its screen size. Instead, it's the trackpad size that's been sacrificed somewhat. This is the x360's biggest flaw, but those wanting to use the laptop for gaming most likely won't cry too much. The new keyboard offers a phenomenally satisfying click with lots of resistance and depth in its keys. HP is paving the way for Ultrabook keys - what a time to be alive. Alongside the Surface Laptop keyboards, this is the one we'd recommend.
In addition to its superior keyboard and thinner, lighter chassis, HP has made great strides when it comes to the display as well. Even though it's not on par with the Huawei, Dell and Microsoft 16:19 screen ratio, the screen edges are now much thinner than they were before and we finally feel that the x360 is a machine capable of competing against the best in its category. Our test unit came with a 1080p IPS display of around 400 NITS, but you can also grab a 4K AMOLED variant which will, of course, provide more depth and a nicer black level, however that's likely to drain the battery quicker. We were very happy with the display during our time with the laptop and although it doesn't quite light up like a Dell XPS 13, the x360 is a bit cheaper than the XPS.
The new version of the x360 comes with a 10th generation Intel CPU, more specifically an Intel i7-1065G7 with a base clock of 1.3GHz and a sustained boost of 1.5GHz, as well as 16GB of RAM and integrated Intel Iris Plus graphics. Although the Specter x360 isn't really designed for performance, it's versatile enough to be capable of some light photo or video editing, with gaming also an option but more likely a secondary focus.
It's a rather versatile piece of tech, then, featuring two USB-C ports equipped with Thunderbolt 3 as well as a regular USB-A port if that suits its user better. It even comes with a MicroSD reader, which is rather impressive.
Clearly, we like the HP Specter x360 and we haven't even touched on its best aspect. With the i7 processor, you'll pay £1,799.00, which is a remarkably low price for what you're getting, especially when compared to its direct competitors. HP has created something great here and we're crossing our fingers that the company continues on this path, because this is the best laptop the manufacturer has released in years.