Amid a slew of new VR technology, groundbreaking advancements in Artificial Intelligence, and automated cars dominating the headlines of nearly every major news outlet, 2016 has still arguably been the year of the laptop. We’ve seen some of the slimmest, fastest, hardest-working machines ever hit the market this year, with reimagined flagship devices from the likes of Apple, Lenovo, Microsoft and Dell. This makes choosing the right laptop for you especially hard; even more so when you consider that the majority of the options today are all essentially pulling from the same arsenal of parts. Intel’s newest processors, USB Type-C ports with Thunderbolt 3, cutting-edge IPS displays and shrinking bezels are the new norm, and across-the-board staples in most of today’s best-selling configurations. And now HP has thrown their hat in the proverbial ring with a lusciously updated version of last year’s Spectre x360.
From the outside, HP’s latest convertible looks much the same as its predecessor – not a bad thing, considering it was already a pretty solid machine. Its 360-degree hinge offers four different viewing modes, and the aluminum body gives it a sleek appearance. But the 2016 version is now lighter and thinner, reaching 13.8mm at its thickest point and weighing in at just 2.85 pounds. Most importantly, it accomplishes this without sacrificing any of its spacious, 13.3-inch, full HD screen; one that boasts a 300-nit brightness rating and color gamut that includes 72 percent of the sRGB space. To pull this off, HP looks to have taken some style cues from Dell, as the bezels on the left and right of the display have shrunk considerably in the new model; HP calls this the “Micro Edge” panel. Unlike some of the newer Dell and Lenovo models, however, the webcam has been placed exactly where you’d actually expect it to be – centered directly above the screen. Plus, it has now been outfitted with an IR camera that supports the convenient and secure Windows Hello log-in, all the while offering faster disk speeds and improved battery life (HP promises up to 15 hours, which is a 25 percent increase from its predecessor). And, the new rig has even been outfitted with four Bang & Olufsen-tuned speakers, which are said to get very, very loud.
With the improved screen came a need to makeover the keyboard as well, which now covers nearly the entire length of the laptop. To still keep things on the lighter side, HP adjusted to stiffer keycaps, so that typing wouldn’t feel awkward. Most importantly, the new version now comes with a 7th-generation Kaby Lake Intel Core i7 chip to keep the whole thing running smoothly, as well as at least 8GB of LPDDR3 RAM, a 256GB solid-state drive (SSD), and an integrated Intel HD Graphics 620 GPU. HP has also included a new dual fan setup for improved cooling, in an effort to remedy the complaint that the original often got pretty warm with extended use. Ports are still about what you’d expect – a USB 3.0 port, two Thunderbolt 3-compatible USB-C ports, and a headphone jack. Noticeably missing in the new model are the SD card reader, Mini DisplayPort and HDMI port that were included in the previous version. Overall though, the few things that were sacrificed are not enough to take HP’s new Spectre x360 out of the running for best overall laptop of 2016.
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