July 15, 2024


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HP Spectre x360 13 (late 2017) review: HP’s tiny 2-in-1 ain’t perfect — but it’s getting close

Summer 2018 Update

The HP Spectre x360 13 remains a terrific 2-in-1, even when compared to newer models like the Lenovo Yoga 920, and still leads the pack in battery life — see the updated charts in the review below. 

However, you can also see that its performance falls a little behind, which likely indicates that HP has traded off speed for battery life; that includes Lenovo and Samsung’s (for the Notebook 9 Pen) decision to use faster but more battery draining 2,400MHz memory over the 2,133MHz used by the HP. It’s also possible more recent models may benefit from some performance tweaks in Windows 10 that weren’t available in December when this model was tested.

The original review of the HP Spectre x360 13 follows, with updated performance charts comparing it to more recent competitors and with corrections to the configuration as initially posted (our evaluation unit had 2,133MHz memory, not 1,600MHz memory). The review was originally published February 9, 2018.

Cheaper, lighter and faster than a 13-inch MacBook Pro, with a longer-living battery and tons more features, the HP Spectre x360 13 continues to wow me. It has some advantages over its closer Windows competitors as well. The screen of HP’s stylish 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 laptop retains the terrific design of its predecessors and improves on the basics. 

The update to Intel’s eighth-generation Core i-series processors has boosted its battery life to a whopping 13-plus hours on our tests. Coupled with that processor’s jump to four cores from two, it performs significantly better than previous models for operations that use the processor. As more laptops adopt the newer processors its lead will diminish, of course. For instance, it slightly lags behind the also-excellent Lenovo Yoga 920 in almost all performance areas, except for battery life.

All that and value, too

Its price is pretty reasonable for what you get. While HP sells this $1,250 model on its site, as far as I can tell you can configure the lowest-end model and get it for $1,100, just without the webcam. That’s something to consider if you’re budget constrained. You can get it in the new Pale Rose Gold (pink) as well as the traditional Dark Ash Silver (copper and brown) or just plan old Natural Silver; you pay $10 extra for the two more exotic models, as well as a bizarre extra $1 for your CPU choice in the Rose Gold. 

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

HP Spectre x360 13 (late 2017)

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

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

You can only get the HD screen in Australia, and the closest model to ours comes with 16GB RAM and a 512GB SSD for AU$3,100. A version with 8GB but a 360GB SSD and a Core i5 runs AU$3,100. It doesn’t look like you can get the privacy screen option or Tilt Pen in Australia, either.

Having tested both the 4K and HD models, I can definitely say I think the 4K is overkill on such a small screen, so it’s a shame you’re forced 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 doesn’t completely block shoulder surfing, and because 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 changes from the last model to this one. The vent on the left side is gone, making room for a bigger power switch with a larger indicator LED, as well as a microSD card slot.

On the right side, HP added a fingerprint sensor for biometric Windows Hello logins. It’s an awkward location, though, because it’s flush with the surface so you can’t find it by feel easily; while groping for it, Windows decides you’ve tried to log in too many times and switches you to PIN login. So you have to look for it first, which is annoying.

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