It was not long ago when the idea of a good laptop from HP was little more than a dream. The company has gone far from the ugly, plastic designs of a few years ago, and its Specter series of high-end Windows laptops stood on my narrowest list of recommendations for people who have been looking for a new computer for some time.  While HP has experimented with a number of unique Specter-inspired designs, the Specter x360 was the workhorse of the series, available in both 13-inch and 15-inch versions. At the end of last year, HP announced an update of the x360 with the latest Intel processors and a redesigned exterior design.
The design of the Specter x360 has not changed significantly since the 2016 model. It's still a 2-in-1 convertible with a 360-degree hinge that lets you rotate the screen behind the keyboard. It still has a 13.3-inch touch screen display, which you can get in 1080p or 4K versions. The 1080p model I've tested is extremely bright and nice to look at, and I do not think it's necessary to upgrade to 4K at this size.
HP has trimmed the bezels to the left and right of the screen just a bit, but the top and bottom bezels are still gigantic, making the Specter look a bit dated compared to the Surface Laptop or the Dell XPS 13. The screen also has a 16: 9 aspect ratio, which is cramped when surfing the Web or the Web. Productivity work compared to the 3: 2 or 16:10 screens available on other Windows and Apple laptops , HP has released several models with 3: 2 displays in the business series. I am frustrated that they have not yet been brought to the consumer product line.
The thick bezel above the display has a Windows Hello compatible camera for easy facial authentication, and there is a Windows Hello compatible fingerprint scanner on the deck directly under the keyboard. Both types of biometric authentication on the same laptop are uncommon, but it makes sense here because the Specter x360 on the side also has a hardware kill switch that completely disables the camera for security reasons. If this switch is on, you can still log in using the fingerprint scanner. Since the switch completely disables the power to the camera, there is no need for a clumsy physical shutter or ugly tape to cover the webcam.
HP has made most of the changes to previous models on the laptop's sides. You now have a stylish, beveled design that is very different from other laptops in its class. In addition to moving the fingerprint scanner to the keyboard deck and adding the camera security switch, HP has also moved the power switch and a Thunderbolt 3 connector to the back corners, where they are slightly out of the way. This has the advantage of turning the charging cable back (the 13-inch model is charged with a USB-C power adapter), and it is more difficult to accidentally press the power button when the laptop is turned on.
But HP has the device released volume rocker on the side. If you use the x360 in its tablet or tent orientation, you can only adjust the volume using the Windows 10 on-screen controls. In addition to the Thunderbolt 3 connector in the right corner, there is a second Thunderbolt 3 connector, a 3.5mm headphone jack and a microSD card slot on the right, and a full-size USB A connector on the left , I would have liked to have a full size SD card slot instead of the microSD card, but unfortunately this is a rarity for 13 "laptops.
Folding the x360 into tablet mode is still awkward and it's just too hard to really use it as a dedicated tablet. The tent mode is more useful for occasional filming in an airplane, but it is safe to say that the traditional hinge of the x360 is not nearly as cool or useful as the design of the Specter Folio.
The Specter line has good keyboards for a long time. and the latest x360 is no exception. The buttons are backlit evenly, there is a lot of space and distance between them, and on the right side there is a useful set of cursor control buttons. I do not find it as good as the Surface Laptop or Surface Book, but I prefer the X360 keyboard to the Dell XPS 13 and certainly the latest MacBook keyboards.
Unfortunately I can not say that for the trackpad. Usually the hardware is good – it's big, sleek and glassy – but like any other HP laptop, the trackpad not only uses the vastly superior Windows Precision drivers, but also the bulky Synaptics drivers that every other laptop manufacturer has changed. This leads to poor palm repellency and sluggish performance. The delay from entering a gesture to reacting the system is annoying. It's a pity that even after years of criticism, as I have called it, HP stuck to this setup. It's not as bad as the practically useless trackpad of the Specter Folio, but it's certainly not good.
On the other hand, the performance of the Quad Core 87 Gen Core i7 8565U processor was excellent. The x360 does not skip a beat for typical productivity tasks. I can use dozens of Chrome tabs, multiple virtual workspaces, Slack, Word, email, Twitter, and more without the x360 sweating or even killing its fans. This does not mean that it is suitable for games or video editing. The graphics card is still integrated, and for the 13-inch model, there is not even an option for discrete graphics. Discrete GPUs such as the Nvidia's MX150 or MX250 are becoming more common in thin-and-light laptops, leaving HP a little behind the curve.
In terms of battery life, the Specter is not behind anything. HP advertises the "longest battery life in the world in a quad-core convertible," and although I could not fully validate this high-level claim, I tend to. The Specter x360 has no problems during a whole working day. The brightness of the display is set to a comfortable level. Even if I use battery hogging programs like Chrome and Slack, the x360 manages to overcome the distance. You can ignore the specified battery life of 22.5 hours (22.5 hours) as it is based on a video loop test. However, it is expected that the charge will be 10 to 12 hours when you use it as a computer.
HP includes a pen in the box containing the x360, which can be used to draw or colorize on the screen. There is no place where the pen can be stored on the laptop itself so it can easily be lost, and it feels a bit retroactive.
Although this option was not present in my review sample, the Specter x360 may be an option configured for $ 150 with integrated LTE connectivity. For consumer laptops, this is still such a rarity that I am very happy that this is an option.
Apart from the trackpad issues, most of my complaints with the Specter x360 are rather small. HP has been refining and iterating this computer for four generations. Changes such as the reared on / off switch and the physical camera switch show that the company is hearing criticism. I prefer smaller screens and a screen with an aspect ratio of 3: 2. However, the display of the x360 has some actual errors. The same applies to performance and battery life. Laptops with more horsepower can be found under the hood, but you will not find any that can last so long between charges.
But a bad trackpad experience can lead or break an otherwise very good laptop, and the Specter x360 is right on the edge. It's possible that HP might address the trackpad with a firmware update, but I think the company needs to think long and hard about why it continues to release inferior trackpads when there are much better options.
If HP finally finds out, it could be a near-perfect laptop in his hand.
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