HP Spectre x360 13t Stylus Convertible Laptop Review

     
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HP Spectre x360 is an ultrabook and convertible laptop series catering to professionals, power users and travelers not wanting to compromise on performance. Indeed, the new addition to the Spectre series seems to deliver: inside is a 7th-gen Core i7 processor, solid-state drive and the touchscreen supports Full HD. Furthermore, the ports selection looks good with double USB Type-C. Despite its high price the Spectre has gathered some positive attention, and below you can read my thoughts about it.

Performance is Superb for an Ultrabook Convertible

Truly, many convertible laptops are not famous for their performance, them often sporting entry-level components like Intel’s mobile, low clock speed processors. However, with HP Spectre x360 13t the situation couldn’t be any more different. The processor on this ultrabook is Intel Core i7-7500U, one of the best mobile CPUs there currently are. With its dual-core, 2.7GHz configuration you can definitely run a bunch of demanding software at the same time. Also, the turbo boost of 3.5GHz will help you in tight spots. The same processor is actually found in Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga which is a competitor – if a bit pricier – to this Spectre.

It’s not only the processor which rocks, the good vibes of the engine room continue in RAM and storage section, as well. This laptop equips 16GB DDR4-2133 memory and if I understand correctly, that is also the maximum RAM amount the system takes. Yet, perhaps the best thing is the storage drive, a PCI-e/NVMe based M.2 SSD with 512GB storage capacity. Already the fact it’s a solid-state drive makes the system feel fast, and when you remember it’s the snappy PCIe technology the computer will just fly. With this kind of system, you can edit images, compress (and uncompress) a lot of data, or stream Full HD videos without worries.

The only “complaint” one could have about the performance has to do with gaming. Ultrabooks are rarely, if ever, built to accommodate the needs of gamers. Indeed, players require a special set of components, most importantly a dedicated, often space-taking graphics card. Since the quarters of this notebook are very cramped, only the integrated Intel HD 620 is taking care of graphics rendering. Comparing to other graphics cards you can see it’s puny, but playing many lower tier games – especially on conservative settings – is possible. For example, you could probably break the 30FPS limit on Grand Theft Auto if settings were kept at minimum.

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Look at the Screen For Hours, it is Beautiful

Very often, if not always, the display of these pricier ultrabooks is among their best features. I suspect HP Spectre x360 13t is no different: it features a 13.3″ touch screen with 1920×1080 resolution, which is also known as Full HD in the circles. The 13-inch diagonal is the essential ultrabook size, while the Full HD resolution is excellent for added screen estate on the display. Making a comparison, the aforementioned Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga has a 14″ 2560×1440 display, a tad bigger and better resolution indeed.

Nonetheless, user reports around the Internet seem to confirm the high image quality. On top of that, the display also has more than one function: it bends backwards, all the way to tablet mode. This is an old trick to make a notebook convertible, but it’s nonetheless an useful trick if you fancy two devices in one. The HP also includes Active Stylus pen.

Keep in mind the bezels around the display are very thin. This contributes to a professional look, and there’s also room for a high quality Full HD webcam in the top area. The video it captures is sharp so you don’t have to be afraid of conveying unprofessional image for business video meetings.

An Upgraded Ports Section

Getting a smaller laptop often means a reduction in ports department, for the simple fact there is less space on the notebook’s side to include these ports. But HP Spectre x360 13t is not your average “smaller laptop” – the manufacturer has been able to cram a few useful connectors on the sides.

Essentially, you will find one USB 3.1 there, but what really makes a geek’s day are the two USB 3.1 Type-C connectors. A common blunder is to leave the USB-C altogether out; however this notebook proudly sports two of them. Those ports natively support Thunderbolt 3 and with adapters you can make them work with other standards, such as DisplayPort 1.2, too. It is true that HDMI-output is not available, but the USB-C works with that as well, provided you have the right adapter at hand.

There is one minor disadvantage I can spot – the lack of means to transfer files locally. Obviously, such a small laptop doesn’t have space for an optical drive, but also SD card slot is totally missing. You can, however, get an external DVD burner or USB dongle for SD cards as a remedy. If you don’t, it will take a USB cable to upload photos from your digital camera to this laptop, for example.

The wireless adapter comes from Intel, it featuring the strong 802.11ac standard with 2×2 WiFi antenna. Available is Bluetooth 4.2 as well which is useful for moving some files from your smart phone. No surprise, there is no Ethernet port in this modern ultrabook.

Other Benefits You’ll Like

Have you read the ad copy and spotted the clause “with up to 16 hours of battery life”. Well, I am confident there is no way you will reach sixteen hours on this notebook if you are actually doing something. The 58Whr battery unit will likely last 8-10 hours under productive use – that is the duration a few user reports mention. To me, the battery seems a non-replaceable one, meaning you’ll have to unscrew the laptop bottom to upgrade the battery.

The keyboard has a backlight feature, a weak white light shining through. The system runs on Windows 10 Home which is pre-loaded on the solid-state drive. If you are buying this laptop overseas, bear in mind it has a one year international warranty.

Pros:
PCI-e based SSD - A solid-state drive that uses the PCIe bus is about the fastest drive there currently is. Such a unit is found in this HP Spectre x360 13t as well, making it snappy to power up and operate.

i7 processor - A Core i7 processor - especially when it belongs to the 7th generation - is also a very high performance component. Partly because of the i7, this HP will fly. Two USB-C - Now you can enjoy not one, but two, multi-use USB Type-C ports!

Cons:
No media card reader - For a reason unknown HP decided to leave SD card slot out of this machine. It makes transferring files locally a bit harder task.

Not for gamers - Ultrabooks excel at many tasks, however gaming is not one of them. Any player worth his salt would choose a notebook with dedicated graphics; this HP is sadly not one of those.

Verdict

It is not always easy to include both high performance and compact size in one package; very often you only get one, while the other requirement suffers. However, in the case of HP Spectre x360 13t, the problem has been solved – its high-speed components and sleek aluminum body make it a wonderful ultrabook convertible for demanding users to enjoy. Indeed, the laptop packs so much power that hardly any task – save graphics-heavy games – is too much for it. One of its competitors, the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga does slightly better job in the display section, but at the same time costs much more. As long as you can do with the HP’s Full HD screen I think this notebook is something you want to check out, should a snappy, even premium, ultrabook tickle your fancy.

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