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Grow Your Business Technology

HP Spectre x360 (13-inch) Review: Is It Good for Business?

HP Spectre x360 (13-inch) Review: Is It Good for Business? The HP Spectre x360 earns 4.5 out of 5 stars. / Credit: Jeremy Lips

HP's new Spectre x360 is a stunning, versatile notebook that will make a great work companion. It provides speedy performance, long battery life, and a sleek and versatile folding design. You also get active pen support for taking notes right on the screen, and a keyboard that's so comfortable it will spoil other ultraslim laptops for you.

But business users should understand that because it's a consumer-focused system, the Spectre x360 lacks business-class security and durability credentials. Still, independent workers who want a sleek, versatile laptop for on-the-go productivity can't go wrong with this one.

 

 

The all-metal Spectre x360 sports stunning good looks. Every detail is crisp and clean, with squared-off edges and a sleek, slightly tapered profile. Its matte-silver finish is really slick, too.

Weighing in at 2.8 lbs. and measuring just 0.54 inches thick, the system is also seriously svelte. It's just as portable as Dell's nonconvertible XPS 13 (2.7 lbs., 11.98 x 7.88 x 0.33-0.6 inches), which is pretty impressive, considering that the Spectre sports a fold-back screen. That's a great perk for commuters: Opting for a 2-in-1 system used to mean sacrificing a bit of portability, but the Spectre X360 turns that rule on its head.

As the x360 name implies, the system's display flips back a full 360 degrees so you can use the laptop like a large tablet. But as slim as it is, the Spectre is a bit too heavy to carry around like an iPad most of the time. Workers are more likely to use the intermediate modes, which let you fold the display back partway for easier access to the touch screen.

 

 

But the main reason workers will find themselves flipping the Spectre's screen back is to take notes on the machine's pressure-sensitivity display. The notebook is compatible with the HP Active Stylus, though unfortunately I didn't get a chance to test out the functionality during my review period. However, I have tested the stylus support on other HP systems and came away pleased. HP's active pen offers full pressure sensitivity, so jotting down digital notes with the accessory has felt smooth and natural on other systems. I'd expect a similar experience with the Spectre x360.

 

 

You won't have to sacrifice connectivity options with the Spectre x360, either. While other slim 2-in-1s, like Lenovo's Yoga 900S, ditch the full-size USB ports, HP is hanging on to them. That's nice for workers who want to plug in standard USB accessories like a flash drive or wired mouse. 

 

 

In addition to the one full-size USB 3.1 port on the Spectre's left edge, you get two USB-C ports on the right side. Those are good for charging, fast data transfer or hooking the system up to an external monitor (or two) at the office. There's no SD card slot here, though, so workers who want to expand the system's internal storage are out of luck.

The HP Spectre feels sturdy and well-built, but as a consumer-focused system, it lacks the durability credentials you'll find on business-class systems. Lenovo's ThinkPad X1 Yoga, for example, was tested to withstand drops, dings, dust, humidity and more — features you don't get with the Spectre x360. The X1 Yoga is a lot pricier than HP's system, though, and not as portable.

The Spectre x360's glossy, 13.3-inch display is bright and beautiful. Text is crisp, and the 1080p panel produces rich colors; when I watched the HD trailer for "Doctor Strange," a swirl of blazing-orange magic effects really caught my eye.

 

 

But while the display looks great, its glossy finish does pick up reflections and glare from windows and overhead office lights. Some users might prefer a matte-finish screen on their work laptops, an option that isn't available on most consumer-focused laptops like the Spectre x360 or Yoga 900S. The XPS 13 is available with a matte display, however.

Despite the notebook's superslim design, typing on the Spectre x360 never feels like a compromise. This keyboard is a joy to type on, even with its slightly below-average key travel of 1.3 millimeters. That's shallower than the 1.5mm we look for on a work laptop, but the keys have such snappy tactile feedback that I quickly forgot about the low travel.

 

 

The inclusion of an extra row of keys on the right side of the Spectre x360's keyboard layout — which includes Home, Page Up, Page Down and End keys for page navigation — is a real boon for workers. Because I write for a living, those keys make my job easier, letting me to quickly navigate around documents and web pages. I wish every laptop keyboard had them.

 

 

Finally, a 2-in-1 laptop that really lasts. The Spectre x360 easily bested the competition in this category, running for a very impressive 10 hours and 6 minutes on our battery life test, which simulates continuous web browsing over Wi-Fi. That's quite a bit longer than both the Yoga 900 (7:57) and Yoga 900s (8:46). And the showing blows away the Samsung Spin 9's anemic run time of 5:38. For workers who want a 2-in-1 system that will last through the longest workdays without a recharge, the Spectre x360 is hard to beat. 

HP packed the latest 7th-Generation Intel processors into the Spectre X360, and it shows. My review unit blazed through every productivity task I threw at it, equipped with a 2.7-GHz Core i7-5500U processor with 16GB of RAM and 512GB of solid-state drive (SSD) storage. I didn't notice any lag while switching between editing a large spreadsheet and browsing through a dozen different tabs in my Chrome browser.

The system racked up an impressive score of 7,933 on the Geekbench 3 test, which measures overall performance. That's a big, 16 percent performance jump over last year's model. It also easily outperformed rival convertibles running on 6th-Generation chips, including the Core i7-equipped Note 9 Spin (6,948) and Core m5-equipped Yoga 900S (5,343).

HP's laptop also outpaced all challengers on our spreadsheet test, matching 20,000 names to their addresses in just 3 minutes and 33 seconds, about half a minute faster than its closest rival, the Samsung Notebook 9 Spin.

The Spectre x360 can be ordered in a range of hardware configurations from HP.com The bottom-end model provides an Intel Core i5 CPU, 8GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD, all for $950. That's a pretty good sweet spot for most workers. 

For an extra $100, you can upgrade to a model with a speedier Core i7 processor ($1,049.)

The top-end model profiled in this review comes equipped with an Intel Core i7-7500U processor with 16GB of RAM and a 512GB SSD, all for $1,299. 

 

 

Fast performance, long battery life and a comfy keyboard in a sleek, flexible package — what more could you want from a 2-in-1 work companion? Enterprise customers who need business-class security and durability credentials might want to look at the ThinkPad X1 Yoga, though that system is a lot pricier (starts at $1,550) and not as portable as the Spectre x360 (starts at $1,050). Independent workers who want the best 2-in-1 laptop on the market should buy HP's laptop without a second thought.

Brett Nuckles

Brett Nuckles has been a working journalist since 2009. He got his start in local newspapers covering community news, local government, education and more before he joined the Business News Daily staff in 2013. He graduated from Ohio University, where he studied Journalism and English. Follow him on Twitter @BrettNuckles.