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HP Spectre x360 13 (2017) Review

When buying a new computer these days, there are a lot to choose from. Do you want a traditional clamshell laptop or would you rather have one that can fold over and has a touchscreen and can be used as a tablet. HP seems to realize this and they’re putting out more 2-in-1 versions of their laptops.

I’ve been using the HP Spectre x360 13 for the past few weeks and it’s easily become one of my favourite 2-in-1 laptops that I’ve tested, even beating the likes of the Dell XPS 13 2-in-1.

Design & Hardware

The Spectre x360 13 is a fairly slim laptop and that’s surprising, especially considering how powerful the laptop is. It’s fairly light to carry around and the included laptop makes it easier but I wish the sleeve was fully enclosed, instead of having one side of the laptop exposed all the time.

The laptop has a premium feel with it’s all-metal body. The keyboard on the Spectre x360 13 is especially comfortable to type on. I typed the majority of this review on the laptop itself. The keys have enough travel that it does not feel shallow like other laptop keyboards.

Since the Spectre x360 13 is a 2-in-1, it can go from a traditional laptop style to bending the screen halfway or all the way like a tablet. The hinge on the Spectre x360 13 has a chain link-like design and feels sturdy.

 

Just above the keyboard, is the quad speakers which are powered by Bang & Olufsen. The speakers on the Spectre x360 13 sound great but only if you’re using the Spectre x360 13 in the traditional laptop mode.

Inside, you’ll find an Intel Core i5 Processor (7200U) clocked at 2.5 GHz and for the most part, there was no noticeable lag and could easily multi-task but there was the occasional fan noise, even though I just had 2-3 tabs open in Chrome. The model I tested also came with a 256GB SSD with 8GB of RAM.

As for ports, there are two USB 3.1 Type-C ports, one of which is mainly used for charging. There is also a USB 3.0 Type-A port as well as a headphone/microphone jack. On the right side, you’ll find a vent and the power button, which was too small for my liking. On the right side, you’ll find the USB Type-C ports along wide a volume rocker, since you can use this as a tablet if you’d like.

The Spectre x360 13 is technically compatible with a stylus to draw on the touchscreen but users have had issues with that and I wasn’t provided a stylus to test that out on the computer.

There is a backlit keyboard but there is just one setting of either on or off. The trackpad on the Spectre x360 13 is fairly wide but sometimes the cursor would jump around, it also has support for multi-touch gestures but they’re not up to the standards to Apple’s.

The webcam on the Spectre x360 13 is a HP Wide Vision FHD IR camera with dual array digital microphone, since it’s an IR camera, it has support for Windows Hello login.

The Spectre x360 13 has a 3-cell 57.8 Whr battery which did last all day but the Spectre x360 13 had terrible standby time. It would close the laptop, it puts it to sleep and I came back a day later and the battery would be dead.

The screen on the Spectre x360 13 model I tested (the 13-x010ca) has a 13.3-inch FullHD display and for the most part, it looked good and gets the job done. There is no option for a higher-res screen.

In the box with the Spectre x360 13, a USB Type-C to HDMI adapter is included, in addition to the laptop sleeve. There is also a power extension for the AC adapter to make it slightly longer.

The Spectre x360 13 comes in two colour options, a Black & Gold colour scheme and a Silver & Black colour scheme (the one I tested). There is a 15-inch model of the Spectre x360 13 but I tested the 13-inch model, which starts at around $1,399 CAD and is available from HP’s website, BestBuy.ca, Amazon.ca and the Microsoft Store.

Software

The Spectre x360 13 is running Windows 10 (the Home version), which Microsoft says it the best version of Windows yet. Which I do agree with Microsoft, they have made major improvements to their OS. Windows 10 takes the best of Windows 7 and 8.

Even though the Spectre x360 13  is running Windows 10 Home, it should be noted that you shouldn’t be using it for super heavy tasks, that’s where a beefier Windows laptop or desktop will come in handy. In my testing, when I was using the device, there was a lot of fan noise when even just running Chrome or while idle.

Just like in Windows 8, Windows 10 can be used with devices with and without touchscreens. And unlike Android, there are lots of Windows 10 apps that work well on a tablet. Sure, there might not be as many apps as on Android or iOS but there are alternatives and you can easily install apps that are not on the Windows store.

I was able to easily multi-task on the Spectre x360 13 and the device easily kept up. In Windows 10, there’s even a tablet mode which will bring up the “Modern/Metro UI” that was introduced in Windows 8. And you can easily switch between Tablet mode and the traditional Windows 10 desktop with one click.

The laptop also comes with McAfee LiveSafe (which can get annoying with it’s popups), Netflix and the usual Windows apps pre-installed.

Final Thoughts

HP has done a great job with the Spectre x360 13, it looks and feels like a premium laptop and can be compared to the likes of Apple’s offerings. If it wasn’t for a few minor issues, then the Spectre x360 13 would be the best Windows 2-in-1 around.

Some things like if the power button was larger or easier to press, better stylus support, less finicky trackpad and if one of the USB Type-C ports was on the other side of the laptop, it would make it even better, especially when you want to charge it.

Pros

  • Good battery life
  • Great display
  • Beautiful and slim design
  • Comfortable keyboard
  • Awesome speakers
  • Has both USB Type-A and USB-C ports

Cons

  • Small power button
  • USB Type-C ports should be on either side, then just one side
  • Stylus  
  • No MicroSD/SD card slot
  • Poor standby time




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