Home Tech HP’s Spectre x360 2-in-1 Laptop Is Fantastic—but Not Flashy

HP’s Spectre x360 2-in-1 Laptop Is Fantastic—but Not Flashy

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Laptop folded outward like a tablet with a digital pen in front of it. The screen has an abstract background and a menu in the middle.

Ever tense alternative to dusty laptops like the Lenovo ThinkPad line, the HP Specter x360 series has fallen into a much more corporate groove lately. In the late 2010s, Specters looked like props Tronwith sharp edges, cut corners and gold trim on some models, in Pete’s name.

Sadly, those days are gone, and while the Specter x360 is still a top-shelf ultralight Windows laptop, it has traded style for consistency. All-soft, OSHA-friendly curves clad in corporate black, silver, and blue give the feeling that the Specter isn’t sold out, but rather purchased.

The 2024 version of the Specter x360 continues to closely follow the design of the 2023 model, all built around showcasing the ‘360’ part of the name. A pair of hinges allow the screen to flip 180 degrees, turning the laptop into a 14-inch tablet. A fingertip works on the screen, as does the stylus included in the box, and the rechargeable active pen snaps magnetically to the side of the chassis when not in use.

Photo: HP

As with most new machines hitting the market this season, the major upgrade here is the introduction of the AI-infused Intel Core Ultra CPU – in this case the Ultra 7 155H model, backed by a beefy 32GB of RAM and 2 -TB SSD drive. The device is a bit light on ports, with two USB-C Thunderbolt 4 ports (one used for charging) and a single USB-A port, partially covered by a clunky and unnecessarily spring-loaded, flip-out panel.

Sure enough, there’s plenty of power in those specs, and the Specter x360 delivered the best performance I’ve seen yet on general business apps – by a healthy margin of 20 percent or more compared to other Core Ultra laptops at many tests. It was pretty much the same as the graphics apps course, but no nonsense in this area either. Despite improvements in the Core Ultra’s integrated GPU, you’ll still need to upgrade to a laptop with a discrete graphics processor if you want to do any significant gaming or rendering activity. On AI tasks, the Specter remained just a hair away from the high mark of the MSI Prestige 13AI Evo in my previous tests.

Size and weight are fine, although the device is heavier than the similarly sized Lenovo X1 Carbon, measuring 19 millimeters thick and weighing 2.4 pounds. That’s not bad considering the addition of a touchscreen and the 360-degree hinge. The extra weight could also reflect a slightly larger battery. My testing (playing a YouTube video at full brightness) yielded 10.5 hours of playtime, significantly better than other Core Ultra laptops I’ve tested to date.

2 side views of a thin black laptop in closed position

Photo: HP

The OLED screen is blindingly bright, which is right in line with the rest of the market today. The speakers on the unit are also excellent, with top-firing tweeters and two front-firing woofers, enhanced by an impressive cooling system that barely saw the super-quiet fan kick in.

My only real complaint is quite mild. While the Specter’s keyboard is fine, the haptic touchpad can be erratic and miss taps and clicks depending on where you press it. I don’t know if this is simple user error due to bizarrely long fingers, but it’s a problem I’ve had for years with various Specters. It’s arguably improved a bit with the new touchpad, but it’s still a thorny problem that caused me a minor headache during extended use.

Pricing is tricky because the exact specification I received is not readily available. You can have one close version for $1,400 on HP.com with 16 GB of RAM, but if you configure it on HP’s website you’ll end up with a price of around $1,850. Even at the higher price, I’d say the exceptional performance, battery life, and usability options are worth the splurge.

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