Thu, 11/24/2016 - 18:57

A few years back, If you wanted a great ultrabook, you had to get the MacBook Air. Apple set the standards for ultrabooks with the Air and no other company was even able to come close to matching its feature set and simplicity, in such a sleek package. But the problem is that Apple didn’t take the time to upgrade the MacBook Air properly, and other companies started catching up.

In a world where it is hard for any manufacturer today to differentiate their laptop from countless other laptops that offer the same Intel processor, the same amount of RAM, a high-quality IPS panel, glass trackpads all packed into a metal or plastic body, the HP Spectre x360 is a breath of fresh air. It is a convertible laptop that starts at $1,049 and checks all the boxes necessary to be a great laptop, Thin and light - check, great keyboard and trackpad - check, a gorgeous display - check, good battery life - check, beautiful design - check.

The laptop only measures 13.8mm at its thickest point and weighs only 2.85 pounds. The Spectre x360 has a 13.3-inch display but fits perfectly into the footprint of a 12-inch laptop. Just like the Dell XPS 13, the Spectre x360 has super thin side bezels, but unlike the XPS 13, the webcam is right where it should be - above the display. It even has an IR camera that supports Windows Hello, which would let you unlock your laptop just by looking at it.

The display is a 1080p Full HD screen that is vibrant and has wide viewing angles. You have an option to upgrade to a higher resolution display if you want to. The body of the laptop is entirely made from aluminum and it looks subtly beautiful. The laptop has 2 USB-C ports with support for Thunderbolt 3. The ports can either be used to charge the device or to interface an external display. It has a full-size USB (Ahem! take note Apple.) and a headphone jack on the other side of the laptop.

The keyboard is snappy and has surprisingly good key-travel. Despite its shrunken size, HP has managed to cram in a full-sized keyboard without having any weirdly placed keys. If there’s one thing that Windows laptops couldn’t just get right, it is the trackpad. Personally, I’ve used laptops with terrible trackpads that have made me want to strangle myself till I died. But the trackpad on the Spectre x360 is surprisingly good, there is still some room for improvement for it to be able to match up to the precision and usability of the trackpad on a Mac but it’s me nitpicking.

The laptop has four speakers, two above the keyboard and two below the chassis. It uses the HP’s Bang & Olufsen speakers and is pretty good. However, the sound is not as full as what you could find on a MacBook Pro or even the new MacBook for that sake. What’s powering all of these underneath is an Intel seventh-generation Core i5 or i7 processor. Depending on the model you choose, it comes either with 8 or 16 GB of RAM, 256 or 512 GB SSD. It can handle everyday applications like word processing, web browsing, emails, video streaming, or even photo editing and video editing like a piece of cake.

What good are these specs if the laptop doesn’t last long enough. The battery life in the HP Spectre x360 is outstanding, averaging around 15 hours of moderate use. That is on top of the charts for a Windows laptop.

Finally, let’s talk about the hinge that lets you flip the laptop’s screen to use it as a tablet or watch videos putting it on a tent mode. To be honest, I don’t think that is the selling point of the laptop, it is one of those nice to have features on top of an already solid contender. Overall, the HP Spectre x360 is one solid piece of hardware with little to no compromise. I would be comfortable suggesting it to anyone in the market looking for a new laptop.