HP Spectre x360 14 review: OLED, quad speakers, and a whole lot of awesome sauce

If you ever wanted a Surface Laptop, but as a 2-in-1 with an OLED display, HP created it with the excellent Spectre x360 14.

Hp Spectre X360 14 Lead
(Image: © Daniel Rubino / Windows Central)

There's no shortage of outstanding laptops these days, especially in the 13- to 14-inch range where Intel's Ultrabooks reign king. HP has been building up its Spectre brand for the last few years, and the Spectre x360 14 is in many ways the culmination of the brand into one nearly perfect laptop.

I've spent the last three weeks with the Spectre x360 14, and without reservation, I can say it is the best 2-in-1 Ultrabook on the market today. It displaces the XPS 13 2-in-1, but only slightly, with the significant differences being price and personal preferences.

What makes the Spectre x360 14 so impressive? It's not just the 3000 x 2000 OLED display, but also all the small OS tweaks that HP has made. There is also some of the best audio I have heard on any Windows PC.

What you get

HP Spectre x360 14 (2020) specs and features

Hp Spectre X360 14 Port Specs

Source: Daniel Rubino / Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Daniel Rubino / Windows Central)

The Spectre x360 14 is classified as a premium convertible 2-in-1 Ultrabook, meaning it does not have a discrete GPU. Instead, the Spectre is powered by Intel's latest 11th processors and uses new Intel Iris Xe graphics.

Being a convertible laptop means it can transform into a tablet, go into "tent mode," or be used with the keyboard flipped behind it, making it ideal for video consumption.

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CategoryHP Spectre x360 14
OSWindows 10 Home
Display13.5 in, 3:2 aspect ratio
1920 x 1280 LCD touch
1920 x 1280 LCD touch with 1000 nits and Privacy Screen
3000 x 2000 OLED, multi-touch
Corning Gorilla Glass NBT
400 nits, 100% DCI-P3; 1,000,000:1
Processor11th Gen Intel Core i7-1165G7 (quad-core)
GraphicsIntel Iris Xe
Memory16GB LPDDR4-3200
Storage1TB SSD and 32GB Intel Optane
PenHP Rechargeable MPP2.0 Tilt Pen in nightfall black (included)
Expandable storageMicroSD reader
Front cameraHP TrueVision 720P HD IR camera
SecurityWindows Hello IR, fingerprint
ConnectivityWi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5
PortsTwo Type-C with Thunderbolt 4
One USB 3.1 Type-A
MicroSD reader
AudioBang & Olufsen with quad speakers
65W Type-C AC adapter
Dimensions11.75 in (W) x 8.67 in (D) x 0.67 in (H)
ColorsDark Ash, Poseidon Blue, or Silver
PriceStarting at $1,329 (opens in new tab)

In the box, HP includes its smartpen and a leather sleeve to protect the Spectre in transit. It's a rare move that only HP does these days and, when combined with its typical lower prices, adds some excellent value. That sleeve also has a pen loop, which is good since the pen has nowhere to go on the Spectre itself.

Ultrabooks are losing more ports every year, and the Spectre x360 14 doesn't do anything special, but it does offer a nice balance. There are two USB Type-C with Thunderbolt 4 ports, a micro-SD, and headphone jack all on the right side, while a single USB Type-A port is on the left, which is welcomed.

Without reservation, the Spectre x360 14 is the best 2-in-1 Ultrabook on the market today.

HP is still using its gem cut style with hard angles included cut off rear corners for design. The right corner doubles as one of two Type-C ports, which lets you shoot the cable off in such a manner as to clear the side of the laptop. This ability gives more room for your mouse, should you choose to use one. HP's design is excellent, but some may find it a bit too ornate.

Security and privacy are improved with a Windows Hello infrared (IR) camera for face recognition and an optional fingerprint reader built into the deck. HP also used dedicated keys to disable the camera and microphone.

Hp Spectre X360 14 Fingerprint Reader

Source: Daniel Rubino / Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Daniel Rubino / Windows Central)

HP offers three colors for the Spectre's chassis. We are using Nightfall Black, which is matte and almost like a black/brown mix with dark gold accents, for this review. There is also a more straightforward natural silver option for those who want something less attention-grabbing. There's a third color dubbed Poseidon Blue, which, as the name implies, is bluer and has a lighter gold accent.

At three pounds (1.36kg), this is not a light laptop by today's standards, but the all-metal chassis makes up for that in giving a pleasing, quality feel to the overall design. Part of that weight is also due to the nicely sized 66 WHr battery (many Ultrabooks hover around 50 WHrs), which pays off in our tests.

Another sign of quality is the ability to open the Spectre with one hand. While this a moot highlight, it's still an engineering challenge when you have 360-degree hinges and a heavier touch display that supports inking. Companies like Lenovo still have a tough time with this capability.

OLED done right

HP Spectre x360 14 (2020) display and web camera

Hp Spectre X360 14display

Source: Daniel Rubino / Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Daniel Rubino / Windows Central)

The Spectre has an incredibly unique 3:2 display aspect, something only found on Microsoft Surface devices, and increasingly hard to find Huawei laptops. It is much taller than 16:9, which is what ships with the Spectre x360 13. HP made the right choice here. With skinny bezels on all four sides, this aspect works at 13.5-inches. It also makes using the Spectre as a tablet or for inking much more enjoyable.

The 3000 x 2000 OLED display is simply stunning, but it's also "smart."

HP offers the Spectre with three display options. One is full HD+ (1920 x 1280) with touch, which is the cheapest option. There is also a full HD+ with HP's Sure View privacy screen, which can hit up to 1000 nits of brightness. Both of those are typical LCD panels with excellent color accuracy and ideal for better battery life.

The third model, which I am using for this review, is the high-end version featuring a 3000 x 2000 resolution and OLED. This one also supports touch and inking like the others. It is simply stunning with its intense blacks and 1,000,000:1 contrast ratio.

All models have an anti-reflective layer, which helps when using the Spectre under bright lights. Dell still has the best anti-reflective treatment, but the Spectre's is still excellent. HP also uses an auto-brightness sensor, which is still something many laptops do not include.

Color accuracy is average with 98 percent sRGB, 76 percent AdobeRGB, and 78 percent DCI-P3. Brightness only peaks at 344 nits (slightly below the rated 400 nits), but it looks much brighter than an LCD due to the extremely high contrast. The minimum brightness is just 21 nits making this laptop easy to use in a dark room.

Hp Spectre X360 14 Hero

Source: Daniel Rubino / Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Daniel Rubino / Windows Central)

Typically, I am not a massive fan of OLED. While it looks incredible the first time, after a while, it becomes too intense for simple tasks like reading email or the web due to that high contrast ratio. But HP did something fascinating and solved this OLED problem. The Spectre has an app called HP Display Control that can auto-switch color profiles depending on the app you are using. Editing in Photoshop or watching a movie? The Spectre switches to DCI-P3. Web browsing? Switch to sRGB. Users can set these profile switches for any app they want, and it all happens instantly with a blink of an eye. It's a genius answer and worked without a hitch.

Hp Spectre X360 14 Command Center

Source: Daniel Rubino / Windows Central HP Display Control can auto switch color profiles based on the app you are using. (Image credit: Source: Daniel Rubino / Windows Central)

Another matter with OLED is the higher-than-average power draw. Again, HP has an answer: Focus Mode. Toggling this feature keeps your current Windowed-app fully lit while the desktop (or any background Windows) gets dimmed. This trick lets your eyes focus on the task at hand with fewer distractions while also reducing power consumption (OLED can do this since each pixel is individually lit). It can be a bit weird at first, but you get used to it after some usage.