It’s not everyday that some company announces a new laptop, but it might as well be. Dozens of laptops are released and/or announced on an annual basis, and for the most part, the only thing separating these laptops are the logo on the front.
However, HP seems keen on avoiding this stereotype with their new HP Spectre x360 13, an annual refresh of the previous 13” Spectre model. With the new press release, we see a bunch of promised features and upgrades–some small, some significant.
What are these upgrades? Which ones do I consider significant? Both of these questions (and more) will be explained now, as I dive into what makes HP’s soon-to-be-released laptop special.
The New 4K Display
While many consider Spectre laptops as ‘premium’, HP likes to keep things affordable, which is why 1080p display Spectre laptops exist.
The 4K Spectre laptops, however, are the models that attract the most attention, thanks to the high resolution and beautiful, color-accurate screens HP incorporate. But the 4K screens were never the best, and many other laptops posed as better options for artists or anyone needing better color-accuracy.
The new Spectre 13 aims to be the perfect laptop for artists, designers, and vice versa, with its new 4K screen. First off, the new 4K screen will be an OLED screen instead of an LCD screen. This change will make sure that the screen is lot more vibrant, and that neutral colors (especially black and grey) are better represented.
The improvements don’t stop there, though. Since the 4K screen has been updated to an OLED, HP decided to incorporate True Black HDR, making this screen the perfect display for cinematic experiences.
Both the 1080p screen and 4K screen share one improvement in common though, and that’s the increase in color-accuracy. The screens are rated at 93% sRGB, beating out the previous model’s 72%–a significant increase in color accuracy.
A (Supposed) Increase in Battery Life
Previous Spectre laptops were lauded for their high battery life, and this Spectre seems no different. In fact, HP announced that the new Spectre 13 will have a 22-hour runtime–an impressive feat if true.
Of course, this 22-hour statistic only includes the low-end configuration of the Spectre, which includes an Intel i5, a 1080P display, and Windows 10 Home. It’s unclear how long the battery will last on 4K displays or more powerful configurations, but it’s safe to say the laptop will clear the 16 hour mark.
I only say that with confidence because the previous Spectre 13 cleared the 16-hour mark, and I doubt HP will allow their new laptop to go down in quality.
An Increase in Security
HP has made many improvements to the security of their device, and while not all of them are worth listing, there are a couple that made me happy to see, no matter how simple they are.
A Way to Turn Off the Webcam
Not all of us use the webcam, and many don’t use it frequently enough to have the webcam on an at all times. It’s a wonder why more laptops don’t incorporate a way to turn off the webcam. Fortunately, HP does.
The new Spectre laptop includes a sort of “kill-switch” for the laptop, allowing the user to keep the webcam off for as long as they’re comfortable. This may not seem like a big deal, but, if in the wrong hands, the webcam can be used to gather more information about you than any hacked account could hope to provide.
An Incorporation of VPNs and Password Managers
At the end of the security section, HP revealed their partnership with ExpressVPN, one of the most popular VPN programs on the market.
This partnership means that ExpressVPN will come preinstalled on all new Spectre 13 laptops. Furthermore, HP will be giving out free 30-day trials to the buyers of the new Spectre laptop, encouraging the VPNs use.
Security improvements don’t stop at VPNs though! LastPass has also joined with HP in an attempt to bring password managers to more of the market, as many aren’t even aware of their existence–same with VPNs.
With free trials being offered for both, not only will the HP laptop come secured, it will allow users to become exposed to cybersecurity tools that allow protection from cybercriminals and hackers.
HP claims 2x the performance of the previous Spectre model. How do they achieve this?
A New CPU
The previous Spectres used the Intel 8k series as their CPU line of choice, but the new HP Spectre 13’s will use the new Intel 10k series, a moderate bump in performance.
A New GPU
Along with the CPU upgrade, HP has upgraded the integrated graphics on the Spectre, moving from the Intel UHD 620 to the Intel Iris Pro, which, while still offering better performance, is still integrated, meaning the performance jump is still not enough for users who want to undergo GPU-intensive tasks like gaming or graphic design.
Both of these upgrades will result in double the performance of the previous Spectre model, according to HP, which I’m willing to believe, as the CPU upgrade especially should make operation smoother and faster.
A New Look
The aesthetic of a laptop is important, as it’s what you–and everyone else around you–will be looking at for hours on end, so you want a nice-looking laptop. And while the Spectre laptops have always looked nice, they could be better.
HP knows this, which is why the shell has undergone some changes. For one, the bezels are much thinner on all sides, allowing HP to advertise the laptop as having a 90% screen-to-body ratio.
The new shell of the laptop is 13% smaller than previous models, and the angular design allows the laptop to keep it’s thin form factor that made people fall in love with it.
A Privacy Screen
HP will be offering a built-in privacy screen for this laptop, though it will not be available until January 2020–the reason I put this feature as a “minor upgrade”.
However, don’t let the delayed release keep you away from the prospect of a privacy screen. Privacy screens are especially helpful if you find yourself working with sensitive information while around coworkers, strangers, etc.
New Network Upgrades
Lastly, the new HP laptop offers an optional 4×4 Gigabit LTE connection, which as HP explains, offers “122% faster speeds compared to a Cat9 2×2 configuration, allowing for up to two times the throughput versus the previous generation and up to three times faster file transfer speeds than Wi-Fi 5.”
I know, it’s a mouthful. But faster Internet speeds never hurt anyone, and it’s nice for HP to offer the option of LTE, though I’m not sure many will use it.
HP’s new Spectre laptop isn’t reinventing the wheel, but that’s ok–it’s not aiming to. Instead, the new Spectre 13 aims to perfect an already high-quality laptop, and if half of these upgrades and features are as good as they sound, then I don’t see how HP can fail.
Unfortunately, there’s no solid release date for the new Spectre x360 13. The press release announces an October release date, but that’s as specific as HP gets. If you’re truly interested in the laptop and need a thin, powerful and secure laptop to get your through the day, then keep an eye on HP’s site for the release of the Spectre.