HP Spectre x360 13 (2018) review: HP’s tiny 2-in-1 is good!

hp-spectre-x360-13

HP Spectre x360 13

The HP Spectre x360 13 remains a great 2-in-1, even when compared with more recent models like the Lenovo Yoga 920, and still leads the pack in battery life — see the updated charts in the evaluation at the end.

However, you can also see that its performance falls a little behind, which likely suggests that HP has actually compromised a little bit of speed for increased battery life; that includes Lenovo and Samsung’s (for the Notebook 9 Pen) decision to use faster but more battery draining 2,400 MHz memory over the 2,133 MHz utilized by the HP. It’s also possible more recent models may take advantage of some performance tweaks in Windows 10 that weren’t available in March 2018 when this model was evaluated.

Cheaper, lighter and faster than a 13-inch MacBook Pro, with a longer-living battery and tons more functions and features, the HP Spectre x36013 continues to wow me. It has some advantages over its closer Windows rivals too. The screen of HP’s elegant convertible flips out of the standard clamshell orientation into a “tent” for presentations, and it stands on its keyboard or flips all the way around to work as a tablet. This notebook retains the fantastic design of its predecessors and improves on the fundamentals.

The update to Intel’s 8-generation Core i-series processors has improved its battery life to a tremendous 13-plus hours on our tests. Coupled with that processor’s jump to 4 cores from 2, it performs considerably better than previous models for operations that utilize the processor. As more laptops embrace the newer processors its lead will lessen, obviously. For instance, it slightly lags behind the also-excellent Lenovo Yoga 920 in nearly all performance areas, other than for battery life.

All that and value, too

Its cost is pretty sensible for what you get. While HP offers this $1,250 model on its website, as far as I can tell you can configure the lowest-end model and get it for $1,100, just without the web cam. That’s something to think about if you’re budget constrained. You can get it in the new Pale Rose Gold (pink) in addition to the conventional Dark Ash Silver (copper and brown) or just plain old Natural Silver; you pay $10 extra for the 2 more exotic models, as well as an unusual extra $1 for your CPU choice in the Rose Gold.

You can configure it with an 8th generation Core i5 or i7, and up to 16 GB RAM, 1 TB SSD and a 4K or HD display with a privacy screen. In theory it includes the Active Pen, but ours had the new HP Tilt Pen in the box, a $90 option which includes nominal tilt detection and a Bluetooth button.

HP Spectre x360 13

Price $1,249.99
Display 13.3-inch 1,920 x 1,080 display
PC CPU 1.8 GHz Intel Core i7-8550 U
RAM 8GB DDR4 (2,133 MHz)
Storage 256 GB SSD, MicroSD slot
Graphics 128 MB dedicated Intel UHD Graphics 620
Ports 2 x USB-C/Thunderbolt, 1 x USB 3.1 Type A, 1 x combo audio
Networking 802.11 ac, Bluetooth 4.2
Operating system Windows 10 Home (64-bit)
Weight 2.8 lb /1.3 kg

There’s no similar version of this in the UK. HP UK only offers the 4K screen — which means no privacy screen option — with either the i7 chip with 512 GB SSD for £1,400, or with an i5 chip and a Core i5-8250 U processor for £1,200 The state-of-the-art model goes up to 1 TB storage and 16 GB memory for £1,700. It features the Active Pen, but it supports the more recent Tilt Pen if you want to upgrade for ₤80.

09-hp-spectre-x360-creative

Having checked both the 4K and HD models, I can certainly state I believe the 4K is overkill on such a little screen, so it’s a pity you are required to spend more in the UK. Though we didn’t have the Sure View privacy screen on this model, we did test that display recently on the EliteBook x360 1020 G2; it hinders, but does not entirely obstruct shoulder surfing, and since it blows out the brightness on the sides, battery life takes a hit of about an hour.

A few new tricks

HP introduced some welcome modifications from the last model to this one. The vent on the left side is gone, making room for a larger power switch with a bigger indicator LED, along with a microSD card slot.

On the right side, HP included a finger print sensor for biometric Windows Hello logins. It’s an uncomfortable location, however, due to the fact that it’s flush with the surface so you cannot find it by just by feeling quickly; while groping for it, Windows decides you’ve attempted to log in too many times and switches you to PIN login. So you need to look for it initially, which is irritating.

I have mixed feelings about the Tilt Pen. At first, I didn’t realize it in fact was the Tilt Pen since the sticker label on it says “Active Stylus”. (And by the way, there’s no way to get rid of the sticker without a lot of effort to get rid of the adhesive, and the sticker can irritate your hand). Like many of these active styluses, it only works with software that utilizes the Microsoft Pen Protocol API, so don’t anticipate it to work with all your applications, and this one’s not backward compatible with a lot of older HP’s.

It is cleverly created to be rechargeable — you pull the top and a gap opens with a USB-C port– but I could not get it to charge on the x360’s USB-C port, and rather had to use my phone’s charger. As for tilt detection, it does not do a lot because you need to press too hard to get the stroke acknowledged that you lose whatever subtlety you’re opting for; pressing too gently results in dropouts within the stroke.

And to HP’s marketing claim that it “feels as natural as pen on paper,” I state “Um … no.” It’s fine for annotating, but like many convertibles with their glossy, reflective screens, the pen feels rather skittery on the surface.

Thankfully, the great stuff hasn’t changed. It has an outstanding keyboard with a fantastic feel and layout for touch typing — and is not too shabby for gaming through GeForce Now, either. Connections include 2 full-capability USB-C/Thunderbolt ports for high-speed transfer of data, charging the laptop and attaching an external monitor, plus a single USB 3.1 Type A for charging gadgets while the laptop is powered off. And it still includes a leather sleeve which has a slot for the stylus, a good perk, if not quite as pretty as the system.

It is more comfortably sized to utilize as a tablet than larger models. The hinge has great tension (take note Lenovo) in all orientations, and no matter how it’s positioned, the audio is loud and directional. Its touchpad feels terrific and properly responsive. It will only give you difficulty in the Google Chrome web browser. (That’s Chrome’s fault, because it often misinterprets two-finger scrolling as pinch-to-zoom and Google removed the override — an infuriatingly irritating Google- thinks-it-knows-best decision that makes the browser window zoom each time you attempt to scroll. Your only choices are to disable two-finger scrolling globally or disable zooming completely in Chrome. End rant.)

In theory, HP could have slimmed the top and bottom screen bezels a bit, but its present style allows for the web cam at the top of the screen, where it has to be.

For traveling, the Spectre x360 13 is one of the best choice, thanks to its four-in-one flexibility and excellent battery life. Its stylus is okay for annotating, writing brief notes or making lists, but I do not like it for drawing or writing paragraphs.

hp vs others benchmark

 

Asus Zenbook Flip 14 (US461 U) Windows 10 Home (64- bit); 1.8 GHz Intel Core i7-8550 U; 16 GB DDR3 (2,133 MHz); 2GB Nvidia GeForce M150 Graphics; 512 GB SSD
Dell Latitude 7390 2-in-1 Windows 10 Pro (64- bit); 1.9 GHz Intel Core i7-8650 U; 16 GB DDR3 (2,133 MHz); 128 MB dedicated Intel UHD Graphics 620; 512 GB SSD
HP Spectre x360 13 (2017) Windows 10 Home (64- bit); 2.7 GHz Intel Core i7-7500 U; 16 GB DDR3 (1,866 MHz); 128 MB dedicated Intel HD Graphics 620; 512 GB SSD
HP Spectre x360 13 (2018) Windows 10 Home (64- bit); 1.8 GHz Intel Core i7-8550 U; 8GB LPDDR3 (1,600 MHz); 128 MB dedicated Intel UHD Graphics 620; 256 GB SSD
Lenovo Yoga 920 (14- inch, 2017) Windows 10 Home (64- bit); 1.8 GHz Intel Core i7-8550 U; 8GB DDR4 (2,400 MHz); 128 MB dedicated Intel UHD Graphics 620; 256 GB SSD
Samsung Notebook 9 Pen Windows 10 Home (64- bit); 1.8 GHz Intel Core i7-8550 U; 8GB DDR4 (2,400 MHz); 128 MB dedicated Intel HD Graphics 620; 256 GB SSD

The Good: Beautifully designed and light-weight, the HP Spectre x36013 has a fantastic keyboard and trackpad, a sharp HD display screen and an above-average stereo. Battery life with this display is excellent, and its performance is top class.

The Bad: The system runs a little hot and the freshly included finger print sensor is in an uncomfortable place.

The Bottom Line: The HP Spectre x36013 remains an excellent little convertible laptop, and now it’s much faster with fantastic battery life.

HP Spectre x360 13 The HP Spectre x360 13 remains a great 2-in-1, even when compared with more recent models like the Lenovo Yoga 920, and still leads the pack in battery life -- see the updated charts in the evaluation at the end. However, you can also see that its performance falls a little behind, which likely suggests that HP has actually compromised a little bit of speed for increased battery life; that includes Lenovo and Samsung's (for the Notebook 9 Pen) decision to use faster but more battery draining 2,400 MHz memory over the 2,133 MHz utilized by the HP. It's also possible more recent models may take advantage of some performance tweaks in Windows 10 that weren't available in March 2018 when this model was evaluated. Cheaper, lighter and faster than a 13-inch MacBook Pro, with a longer-living battery and tons more functions and features, the HP Spectre x36013 continues to wow me. It has some advantages over its closer Windows rivals too. The screen of HP's elegant convertible flips out of the standard clamshell orientation into a "tent" for presentations, and it stands on its keyboard or flips all the way around to work as a tablet. This notebook retains the fantastic design of its predecessors and improves on the fundamentals. The update to Intel's 8-generation Core i-series processors has improved its battery life to a tremendous 13-plus hours on our tests. Coupled with that processor's jump to 4 cores from 2, it performs considerably better than previous models for operations that utilize the processor. As more laptops embrace the newer processors its lead will lessen, obviously. For instance, it slightly lags behind the also-excellent Lenovo Yoga 920 in nearly all performance areas, other than for battery life. All that and value, too Its cost is pretty sensible for what you get. While HP offers this $1,250 model on its website, as far as I can tell you can configure the lowest-end model and get it for $1,100, just without the web cam. That's something to think about if you're budget constrained. You can get it in the new Pale Rose Gold (pink) in addition to the conventional Dark Ash Silver (copper and brown) or just plain old Natural Silver; you pay $10 extra for the 2 more exotic models, as well as an unusual extra $1 for your CPU choice in the Rose Gold. You can configure it with an 8th generation Core i5 or i7, and up to 16 GB RAM, 1 TB SSD and a 4K or HD display with a privacy screen. In theory it includes the Active Pen, but ours had the new HP Tilt Pen in the box, a $90 option which includes nominal tilt detection and a Bluetooth button. HP Spectre x360 13 Price $1,249.99 Display 13.3-inch 1,920 x 1,080 display PC CPU 1.8 GHz Intel Core i7-8550 U RAM 8GB DDR4 (2,133 MHz) Storage 256 GB SSD, MicroSD slot Graphics 128 MB dedicated Intel UHD Graphics 620 Ports…

HP Spectre x360 13

Overall - 8.6

8.6

Overall Score

All in all, a decent and lightweight tablet, especially useful for traveling

User Rating: 4.5 ( 1 votes)
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