Today, HP announced major updates to two of its most stunning premium PCs, the Spectre 13 and the Spectre x360.
“HP is delivering the world’s thinnest touch laptops, while setting new industry standards for battery life, security and design,” HP vice president and general manager Kevin Frost says. “Our Spectre portfolio is redefining the premium PC segment, providing unique user experiences that will inspire creativity and unlock limitless opportunities to bring incredible ideas to life.”
I’ve reviewed each generation of these PCs over the past few years and credit HP generally, and the Spectre premium PC lineup more specifically, for pushing beautiful and innovative designs to the forefront of the otherwise slumbering PC market. These are truly impressive devices, and the new versions both mark an important step forward.
HP announced its first-generation Spectre 13 notebook in April 2016, describing it as the world’s thinnest notebook. And as I noted when it became available a few months later, the device was a stunner, with a polarizing dark gray and color design.
For 2017, HP has made some important—and impressive—changes to this device.
Internally, the new HP Spectre 13 of course provides the latest technology: 8th generation quad-core Intel Core i5 and i7 processors, up to 16 GB of LPDDR3 RAM (up from 8), and up to 1 TB of fast PCIe-based SSD storage. Battery life has improved, too, up to a rated 11.5 hours (up from 10), and thanks to fast-charging technology, you can get a 50 percent charge in just 30 minutes.
But the most important changes are on the outside.
The new HP Spectre 13 shares the same basic design as its predecessor, but the shiny copper bits are more muted than glossy, and less prone to capturing fingerprints. Even better, the device is available in a gorgeous ceramic white with pale gold accents for those who want even more exclusivity. You need to see this color scheme in person to understand how well it works, and the matching white power supply is a nice touch too.
Even better still, the new HP Spectre 13 is smaller and lighter than its predecessor, thanks to a new near-edgeless display bezel and a larger, edge-to-edge keyboard with perfect 1.3 mm key travel. That display is now touch-enabled, where last year’s was not, and it can be had in Full HD or 4K/UHD variants (where the latter drops the battery life to a rated 7.9 hours.) There is now a Windows Hello-capable webcam. And the trackpad, a bit small on the previous unit, is now 15 percent wider too.
Thanks to the new design, the speakers have moved from the sides of the keyboard to the top, and they’ve improved: They’re 50 percent louder than before, answering a rare customer complaint about the previous Spectre, and have been tuned for maximum performance. Also improved is the wireless performance, thanks to a new antenna design.
Expansion is as forwarding-leaning as ever. There are three USB-C ports on the back of the Spectre 13, and two are Thunderbolt 3 capable.
As for the 13-inch Spectre x360, this device is now hitting its third generation design. This product has long been one of my favorites, and my son still uses the first-gen Spectre x360 at school, while I’ve moved back and forth between [the 4K version of the previous-gen Spectre x360](Spectre x360) and its 15-inch cousin.
For 2017, HP now has a new claim for the Spectre x360: It provides the best battery life of any quad-core convertible PC. It looks a lot like its predecessor, and it still comes in both silver and ash gray and copper styles. But the design now is more angular, and more modern. And while I wasn’t sold on it when I previewed the device virtually, seeing it person made all the difference in the world. This is a gorgeous update.
As you should expect, the internals are all improved: We get 8th generation quad-core Intel Core i5 and i7 processors, up to 16 GB of LPDDR3 RAM, and up to 1 TB of PCIe-based SSD storage, plus battery life of up to 16.5 hours.
Externally, the new HP Spectre x360 is smaller, lighter, and thinner than its predecessor, which is quite an achievement if you’re familiar with that device. It’s down to 2.78 pounds (from 2.85), thanks to further downsizing and even thinner display bezels.
From an expansion perspective, HP has always done the right thing with the x360, and this year’s model includes a full-sized USB 3.1 port and two USB-C ports with Thunderbolt 3. But this year’s model picks up a microSD card slot too.
Pricing on both devices is, well, premium. The HP Spectre 13 starts at $1299.99 for a model with a Core i5 processor, 8 GB of RAM, 256 GB of storage, and Full HD touch. But it can cost as much as $1399.99 for a more fully-specced version.
The HP Spectre x360 starts at $1149.99—Core i5, 8 GB, 256 GB, Full HD touch—and rises all the way up to $1599.99.
Both look amazing. And yes, I intend to review them as soon as possible.