If you listen to the weekly Windows Central Podcast, I often talk about HP's laptops. Specifically, how the company went from making things I would never touch to building some of the most impressive and awe-inspiring PCs around.

The first device to win my attention was the Spectre x360, which has steadily evolved over the last few years. In fact, I called the previous year's model "the new best 13-inch laptop", displacing the Dell XPS 13.

A few months ago, HP did another refresh to the Spectre x360. Sure, it has some expected changes, like that snappy new Intel 8th generation quad-core processor, but there are also many stylistic and under-the-hood improvements.

Check out the video below to see what's new, what works, and what doesn't.

Changes for late 2017

While the 2016 Spectre x360 was great, I had five changes I wanted to see to make it perfect.

Sadly, none of those were adopted by HP, which is unfortunate. HP does offer a 4K touch panel now, which is impressive in the 13-inch form factor.

Other changes that HP made to this cycle's Spectre x360 include:

  • Thinner display bezels.
  • Moving the speakers from the sides to the back, resulting in a smaller footprint.
  • New, angular design for the hinge area.
  • Improved thermals and cooling resulting in a quieter experience.
  • Multiple color options: silver, rose gold, or dark ash.
  • Side fingerprint reader (in addition to facial recognition).
  • Faster startup and resume.
  • New Sure View privacy screen option.

Those are all welcome additions.

I'm a big fan of that Sure View privacy technology, which masks the display from onlookers. The Spectre x360 is now the first consumer device (versus enterprise) to have that option for an extra $50, and that's awesome.

HP Spectre x360 specifications

Feature HP Spectre x360 13-inch
Processor Intel Core i5-8250U or Intel Core i7-8550U
Display type 13.3-inch IPS micro-edge WLED
Touch screen with Corning Gorilla Glass
Integrated privacy screen (optional, FHD only)
Display resolution 1920 x 1080 (FHD) or 3840 x 2160 (4K)
Digital pen Yes (included)
RAM 8GB or 16GB LPDDR3-2133 SDRAM (soldered)
Native graphics Intel HD Graphics 620
Intel UHD Graphics 620
Discrete graphics None
Storage 256GB, 360GB, 512GB, or 1TB PCIe NVMe M.2 SSD
Wireless Intel 802.11b/g/n/ac (2x2) Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.2
Ports 2 Thunderbolt 3 (Data Transfer up to 40 Gb/s, Power Delivery, DP1.2, HP Sleep and Charge)
1 USB 3.1
micro SD
Audio Bang & Olufsen quad speakers
Dimensions 12.04 in x 8.56 in x 0.53 in (W x D x H)
306 mm x 217 mm x 13.5 mm (W x D x H)
Weight 2.78 lbs (1.26 kg)
Cameras Front-facing HP TrueVision 1080p FHD IR Webcam
Biometrics IR Camera + Fingerprint
Price Starts at $1,149

The specifications for the refreshed HP Spectre x360 fall in line with premium Ultrabooks in this class.

HP is particularly good at letting you configure the Spectre x360. With three different colors, three different display types, two RAM choices, and storage spanning 256GB to 1TB, you can make the Spectre x360 exactly how you want it.

HP Spectre x360 is close but still misses the mark

The Spectre x360 continues to be an outstanding 2-in-1 Ultrabook. HP throws in a pen for inking, a leather sleeve for protection, and a USB Type-A dongle for legacy your older peripherals.

Performance is great, too, though normal for this class. Battery life is around the eight-hour mark – making it essentially an all-day device. The quick-charge Type-C charger is tiny, and I love the keyboard.

Nonetheless, I still wouldn't mind HP going to a 3x2 display aspect ratio and slimming down those top and bottom bezels. The trackpad – which is excellent hardware – could be improved with Microsoft Precision drivers. The audio is still too shrill at times. The silver keys with a white backlight needs a solution, too, as they are difficult to see at times and the display wobble seems a bit worse this year.

It feels like HP made many changes, but not all of them were necessary. The addition of the fingerprint reader is cool, but not something I saw a lot of people clamoring for either. The new angular design is gorgeous, but I also though that about last year's model.

For the price, features, performance, flexibility and just overall value the Spectre x360 is still tough to beat. Everything is premium and while there are a few minor irritations, it's still easy to recommend. I'm dinging HP a half star in my rating this year because it could still make many small improvements, and also because the competition is catching up fast (see the new Dell XPS 13 9370).

If I had to choose one model, I'd go for the darksh color and spring for that privacy screen feature – that will give you the best-looking Spectre x360 with a feature no other consumer laptop has on the market.

Pros:

  • Flexible and practical hardware.
  • Gorgeous design.
  • Plenty of configuration options.
  • Pen, sleeve, dongle included in the box.
  • Great value.

Cons:

  • Screen wobble.
  • Speakers don't have enough bass.
  • Would look better with a 3x2 display aspect.

4.5 out of 5

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