Specter with an annual CPU and aesthetic update
HP Specter x360 (2019) detailed review
Since its humble introduction almost half a decade ago as the name of an Intel Haswell-powered detachable hybrid ultrabook, the brand name “Specter” has come a long way in the history of HP mobile computing devices. Today, the Specter continues to represent HP’s thinnest, lightest, and most premium laptops. This is also true of laptops in question at the moment: HP Specter x360 Let’s take a closer look.
HP announced the 2019 version of the Specter x360 in late 2018 and launched it in India in February this year. The updated model is not powered by Intel’s 9th Gen Core series CPUs but a refresh of the “Whiskey Lake R” of its 8th Gen Chips. In addition, HP seems to have given the convertible body a proper facelift. The edges of the Specter x360 are now “gem-cut”, giving the laptop more character.
What’s more, the new Specter x360 is available in a new color called Poseidon Blue. According to the American technology company, the Specter x360 is available in two variants. The first has an Intel Core i5 CPU, 8GB RAM and 256GB solid-state storage. The second has an Intel Core i7 CPU, 16GB RAM and 512GB solid-state storage. The Core i5 variant is priced at Rs 1,39,990, while the Core i7 variant is priced at Rs 1,69,990. Yes, our review unit is the next look, and we’re going to find out if the 2019 HP Specter x360 is worth the heavy price tag.
Construction and design
HP has generally gone crazy lengths to make its Specter devices look smoother and sharper. It seems to me that the Specter line-up has gradually evolved into the HP that was with the RAZR series mobile phone Motorola. It only takes a few seconds with the new Specter to see if the 2019 version brings more pizzas to the convertible design. To begin with, HP has blessed it with a new color called Poseidon Blue, which is basically a shade very close to Navy Blue. In contrast to the golden accents brushed on the hinges and borders, the new color makes the Specter look reasonably attractive.
According to HP, the Specter’s body has an all-aluminum double-chamfered finish with a “gem cut” design. It is HP-spoke for trimmed edges on both sides of the display charm. When one of the two ends (or direction) receives a USB-C port, the other has a power button The new Specter x360 feels fairly strong and hand gripy. At 1.32 kilograms, it seems quite light. In other words, the new Specter x360 is very similar to the new Apple MacBook Air in terms of feel. At the same time, the new Specter looks cool and underestimated. It’s easy to imagine someone in business formality holding Specter x360 as they exit the Business Class Lounge at the airport.
Display, audio and IoT
The HP Specter x360 comes with a full HD resolution with a 13.3-inch touchscreen display. IPS WLED-backlit panel protected by Corning Gorilla Glass NBT. According to HP, the display has a maximum brightness of 300 nits and a pixel count of 166 pixels per inch. The laptop is bundled with an HP Pen Stylus. HP Sure View is enabled (and disabled) by pressing F1 on the keyboard, a privacy-protective feature so you don’t want others around you to peek at your work. This makes the screen more blue but works effectively.
The colors on the review unit’s display look complete and rich when browsing the web and watching videos. At no time did they seem to be washed out or overcooked. Brightness was also sufficient for most indoor spots, such as conference rooms. According to our test kit, the panel is capable of reproducing 95 percent color in sRGB color space and 74 percent color in Adobe RGB color space, up to the mark.
The display of the specter is positively responsive to touch. There is minimal latency during inputs and the Palm Rejection feature works well when scribbling notes and drawing images. When the device is used in tablet mode the screen shows some signs of flex but this is not a big hindrance. If anything, the glossy finish of the display becomes confusing when used in bright places. Overhead lights, say an office or clinic, can cause confusion due to the reflection of the screen.
The sound from the laptop speaker is irresistible though the speaker strip above the keyboard has an engraved bang and the Olufsen logo. Popular tracks like The Weekend’s Starboy and ZHU’s One Minute to Midnight sound short and unrefined. The bus is not heard or felt from the device. On the plus side, they’re pretty loud. This speaker is best reserved for vocals. In comparison, the MacBook Air’s speakers offer a more balanced output, which an average user would expect from a laptop beyond the 1.5 1.5-million mark.
Despite being a thin and light interchangeable device, the Specter x360 comes with a few usable ports. On the left side of its body, it has a single USB-A 3.1 Gen 2 port and that’s it. On the right, it has two USB-C 3.1 Gen 2 ports (including a “Gem Cut” facet), a 3.5mm audio jack for the headset, and a microSD card slot. In addition, there is a physical switch to turn off the webcam. While enabled, no application, including Windows Hello (for Face Unlock), can access the device’s webcam. Instead, those who prefer fingerprint authentication can use the fingerprint scanner just below the keyboard, which takes some time to authenticate but does not fail.
Keyboard and touchpad
The keyboard is one of the many components of the Specter x360 that remains unchanged from last year’s model. While some may feel comfortable typing the two-stage backlit unit, I’m not a big fan of it personally. The keycaps are very small and strangely empty They also think that they could use a shallow dimple on the top surface for easy identification. On the bright side, the response from the key is not bad. The keyboard also gets dedicated keys for Home, End, Page Up and Page Down functions.
Touchpads have always been and continue to be the bet on HP laptops, and this is largely due to the company’s refusal to use Windows 10’s native precision driver for its touchpads. This means that the Synaptics-powered touchpad on the Specter x360 does not support all multi-finger taps and swipes. For example, a four-finger switch won’t let you go to the next virtual desktop, and a three-finger click can’t be reprogrammed to do anything other than search Windows. HP should honestly be found in the touchpad section over time.
Sadly, we don’t see an Intel 9th Gen chip in the Specter x360. Instead, we see a “Whiskey Lake R” refresh the CPUs of the good old 8th Gen Core series. The review unit, the top-of-the-line variant, was powered by an Intel i7-8565U quad-core CPU with a base clock speed of 1.8GHz. The 14-nanometer chip was launched in the third quarter of last year, so HP quickly incorporated it into its Specter facelift. The review unit has a standard 16GB of RAM, and solid-state storage, 512GB. The biggest change since last year is the CPU alone.
The review unit did well on our benchmark test. In PCMark 8’s Accelerated Creative Test, Specter scored 3702 points. By comparison, last year’s model received 5001 in the same test. In CrystalDiskMark’s storage speed test, the review unit achieved a gradual read speed of 3124.9 MB / s and a serial write speed of 531 MB / s, which is surprisingly fast. By comparison, the cheaper ENVY x360 recorded a slightly higher sequential read speed of 3237.3 MB / s and much higher sequential write speeds of 1438 MB / s.
In everyday use situations, the review unit has worked excellently. Specter handles multitasking quite well in applications like Word, Excel, PowerPoint, PC for WhatsApp, Steam, File Explorer, and Chrome. Laptops run multiple instances of these apps across many virtual desktops without breaking a sweat. Even the laptop handles background downloads and app installation at the same time without any hindrance. For the average corporate employee, crunching numbers, browsing, watching videos and editing text documents should be no problem in the new spectrum.
The HP Specter x360 comes with a built-in quad-cell 61Wh lithium-ion polymer battery that is not user-replaceable. In our standard battery benchmark test, the review unit lasted 4 hours, 17 minutes, which is good but not a significant jump compared to last year’s model. In the case of daily use, the battery of the review unit has dropped to 54 percent from full charge in less than three hours. During the test, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth were left enabled, and the laptop was used for writing, music playback through speakers, installing background apps, and video playback. Expect the new Specter x360 to last a little over six hours on a single charge in general with moderate use.
The last row
In short, the Specter x360 remains true to its character, being a lean and average business machine designed for portability and performance. The new Intel Core i7 keeps the CPU Specter up to date and helps extend battery life by a few more minutes. At the same time, its already attractive packaging gets a significant styling and paint job from HP that includes aluminum panels and “gem cut” edges for the attached character.
Although the ointment contains only one fly: apart from the easily noticeable upgrades in the CPU and aesthetics sections, there is nothing new about the Specter x360. This is a routine annual refresh to keep HP fresh in the eyes of its flagship convertible customers who pay over Rs 1.5 lakh for the latest Core i7 CPU, 16GB RAM, 512GB solid-state storage and oodles. Style