“A convertible laptop for the style conscious”
Lenovo’s Yoga line has, for a while now, been the standard to beat for laptop-tablet convertible devices and HP is taking it head-on. The Spectre x360 13t from HP is the company’s attempt to create the perfect midrange 2-in-1 device – the 13-inch device sits right in between HP’s 11-inch and 15-inch offerings.
The Spectre line is HP’s most premium line – lying above both the Pavilion and Envy brands. Keeping in line with the stature of the brand, the x360 is made using high-quality aluminum, has a brand new hinge, a touchscreen and hides premium components inside. With prices starting at $899, the Spectre x360 is competing with the likes of the Dell XPS 13, Lenovo Yoga 3 and Apple MacBook Air.
As expected, there is a selection of connectivity options on offer. There is an SD card slot, 3xUSB 3.0 ports, HDMI and a mini DisplayPort. With the x360, HP also provides two USB dongles – one for Ethernet and the other for VGA out. Apart from WiDi and Bluetooth 4.0, the laptop also has 802.11ac Wi-Fi with a 2×2 MIMO antenna for better performance.
While it has all the makings of a good laptop, is it a good convertible?
It almost looks like the designers at HP have taken design elements from other premium Ultrabooks to create the Spectre x360. The aluminum chassis has a clean and modern look with rounded front edges and sharper rear edges. The sides are polished metal while the lid and bottom have a matte finish.
Weighing in at around 3.26 pounds, the Spectre is on the heavier side. Comparatively, the Yoga 3 Pro weighs 2.2lbs and the XPS 13 is around 2.5lbs.Because of the extra weight, the laptop can be a bit uncomfortable to use in Stand Mode.
With the Spectre x360, HP has not followed the trend of adding a qHD+ screen. Instead, it has a perfectly capable 13.3 inch Full HD 1920×1080 LCD display. While it is not an IPS panel, the display has been bonded to the glass, which results in excellent viewing angles. At a brightness of 339 nits, the screen outperforms its competition. The next brightest is the Yoga 3 Pro which is at 318 nits.
Colors look rich and saturated and it showed plenty of detail too. Colors are fairly accurate and the screen reproduces 103.2% of the sRGB gamut, which is excellent.
Keyboard and Trackpad
The full-sized keyboard is easy to type on and has great travel (1.5mm). The keys have metal caps which make them look more premium than the plastic ones used in the Lenovo Yoga 3 Pro or the MacBook Air. The keys are easily visible in normal light and are backlit for use in dark areas. However, under dim light, the backlight has a tendency to blend with the silver color of the keys, which makes it hard to see markings on the keys.
The Spectre x360 has a wide HP ImagePad sensor which is very accurate and responsive. A big risk with having a 5.5inch wide touchpad is that it increases the chances of your hands accidentally brushing against the surface when typing. But, HP has considerably improved the palm rejection mechanism of the touchpad and I didn’t experience many instances of cursor jerkiness, which is good.
Our review unit has a 2.2GHz Intel Core i5 5200U CPU and 8GB RAM. The processor is built for use in Ultrabooks and unlike the Core M series, doesn’t trade performance for a slimmer and cooler design. Therefore, the Spectre x360 manages to outperform many of its competition.
The Geekbench 3 score of 5,614 is better than the MacBook Air (5,393), XPS 13 (5,530) and Yoga 3 Pro (4,571). The PCMark 8 Work Conventional score of 2,707 was ahead of the rest as well. The system has a 256GB SSD which has a data transfer rate of 141.4MBps. While not better than the Yoga 3 Pro (175MBps) or MacBook Air (190.3MBps), it is significantly better than the category average of 121.7MBps.
Graphics performance is nothing to write home about. There is no dedicated GPU and the integrated Intel HD Graphics 5000 chip can run casual games but will struggle with more mainstream titles. World of Warcraft, for example, only managed 26fps at the screen’s native resolution with all other settings turned down.
When it comes to battery life, the HP Spectre x360 is one the best convertibles we’ve tested. In our endurance test (web browsing at 100 nits), the 56Whr battery ran for 9 hours 26 minutes before running out of juice. This is better than the touchscreen XPS 13 and the Yoga 3 Pro. The MacBook Air continues to be the mark to beat at 12:20.
- Build quality
- Battery life
- Can get really warm
- Tablet mode can be uncomfortable
If you are looking for a convertible laptop, the HP Spectre 13t (13-4003) is one of the best options available. It has an excellent battery life, good design and performs well to boot. While it’s not as convenient to use in tablet mode as the Lenovo Yoga 3 Pro, it is cheaper and has plenty of other positives going for it as well.