The laptop market is saturated. You’d be hard-pressed to find laptops that are actually unique; most laptops share the same features, specs, and overall quality. Every company is guilty of this, though I’m not hating on these companies as much as I’m pointing out a flaw in the market.
So, when HP announced their new Spectre laptop, I was prepared for disappointment. However, not only did I find myself pleasantly surprised by the reveal, I found hope for the future of the cybersecurity industry. Yea, that’s not expected from a laptop reveal.
What am I talking about? How exciting truly is HP’s new laptop? Well, allow me to tell you with a breakdown of everything about the laptop.
Breaking Down the Specs
The specifications of the new HP laptop, the Spectre x360 13, are nothing special. Being a reiteration of last year’s Spectre 13” model, the new Spectre 13 offers incremental-moderate upgrades to the existing laptop.
All of the hardware specifications can be found in the press release, but I thought I should type out an overview for those who don’t want to read through all the corporate talk.
Display options: 1080p and 4K
Let’s start with the display–the thing you’ll actually spend time looking at. Similar to previous Spectre laptops, the new Spectre will offer two display options: 1080p and 4K. The 4K screen will be a couple hundred dollars more expensive at the very least, though–in my opinion–it’s worth it.
HP’s main pride in their new laptop is the trimming of the bezels. At a 90% screen-to-body ratio, the new Spectre laptop is an undeniably gorgeous device.
Nothing much has changed with the 1080p display, but the 4K display has been subjected to a few revisions. For starters, the 4K screen is OLED, meaning that colors (especially darker colors, like black) look much better than on a traditional LCD screen.
The 4K display incorporates True Black HDR as well, ensuring a bright, vibrant display. Overall, I can say without any hesitation that the new 4K screen is what has me most excited.
Incremental improvements are to be expected from reiterations of old laptops, and that’s exactly what we receive with the new Spectre. The new Spectre laptop replaces the Intel 8k series processor with Intel’s new 10k series, which should bring a decent performance boost, especially with CPU-intensive tasks, like video editing.
The new 10k processors
HP upgraded the GPU as well, though that’s mostly because the new 10k processors include Intel’s Iris Plus integrated graphics. Not as efficient as a dedicated GPU, but the new integrated GPU should give users a sizable performance improvement in video games and graphic design, though that’s still not saying much.
The 3Dmark11 score
Both the CPU and GPU improvements lead to double the performance of the previous Spectre according to HP. The press release clarifies this statement as the result of the 3Dmark11 score the new laptop achieved–a score double that of the previous Spectre.
The storage options for the new laptop are not listed in the press release, though HP mentions a 256GB SSD, 512GB SSD, and a 1TB SSD. I’d be surprised if there’s not a 128GB SSD option as well, but we’ll just have to wait and see.
22-hour battery life
Out of all these improvements, the one thing to catch my attention was the supposed battery life of the new x360 13. Every laptop manufacturer touts long battery lives, but they’re rarely accurate when compared to real-life usage. So, HP’s claim of a 22-hour battery life has me interested, though I expect a lower battery life.
Overall, the new improvements sound impressive on paper, and hopefully, in practice. Unfortunately, we won’t know how well this laptop performs until sometime this October, when HP will be releasing it. I wish I could be more specific with the release date, but HP never listed a specific release date.
One way in which the Spectre line attracted the attention it has now is due to its luxurious look and feel. Minimalistic, stylish, sleek: all of these words can’t begin to describe how beautiful the laptops are. So, I don’t think I need to go into too much detail about how pretty the new Spectre is.
However, there are a few improvements HP has made to make sure that the luxury look and feel does not hinder the accessibility of the laptop.
First off, the new 13” laptop is 13% smaller than the previous model, making it easier to carry around. The new Spectre also incorporates an “angular” design for it’s body, helping the laptop achieve a timeless look, avoiding a “boxy” look.
Being made out of 100% aluminum, you can be sure that the laptop will feel just as good as it looks. Enough about aesthetics though, are there any actual additions to the outside?
Yes! Though, I’d argue they’re not as impressive. Most of the external functionality improvements concern security, though I’ll get to those in the upcoming section. However, HP claims they’ve manufactured the laptop to the benefit of USB-C port placement, allowing better cord management.
The power button has been placed on the left corner of the device as well in an effort to minimize accidental shutdowns.
Overall, not much new with the external features, though I did mention security improvements, huh?
This section is, what I consider, the bread and butter of HP’s new Spectre laptop. I’m not sure if they intended for this, but it’s what they got.
The external security features are pretty neat. For example, HP decided to go against the grain and opt for an alternative to the traditional webcam cover that other laptop manufacturers install. Instead, the laptop will include a kill-switch, allowing the user to turn the webcam off when not in use, which should decrease the amount of paranoia you feel when you look at the webcam.
A mute button for the microphone will also be included, along with an LED light to indicate whether the microphone is muted or not. Honestly, I don’t know why this isn’t a feature in all laptops–seems like common sense to include.
The Spectre x360 13 offers an optional built-in privacy screen, though I’m sad to say that this will not be available until January 2020. Why this is the case I don’t know, as I’m just reading off HP’s press release. The fact the option exists though is more than enough to keep me happy.
The laptop will also feature two ID verification methods as well: Windows Hello and fingerprint scanning. Both of these offer their own set of pros and cons, so giving the user options is extremely helpful. Plus, Windows Hello doesn’t work as well for those of us who wear glasses, so I’m glad to have the fingerprint option return.
Now I want to focus on the magnum opus of this press release, which is the partnership between HP and ExpressVPN. Yes, HP and ExpressVPN have joined forces to increase security on the new HP laptop and I could not be happier.
ExpressVPN will come preinstalled on the new HP Spectre, and if you feel so inclined, you can redeem a free 30-day trial for the program, allowing you to test drive the VPN before locking yourself into a monthly subscription.
A Beneficial Partnership
Now, you may be wondering why I find this so important. I feel this is important because it displays a shift in focus in the tech industry. Keep in mind that data breaches are becoming increasingly common, and I don’t think I need to remind you of the incident with Capital One or Equifax.
With tech companies shifting their focus to security, they will provide better security for their users. And since the Spectre is such a popular laptop, people who are not aware of what a VPN even is will be exposed to the idea of it, piquing their curiosity and, if they feel the need, use one.
Laptop users definitely need a VPN, as public networks are some of the most dangerous places for them to do their work, due to any experienced cybercriminal being able to steal and read through your data.
Overall, I think the security improvements for this device are amazing additions that put this Spectre high above previous iterations. Furthermore, I think the newfound focus on security shown here with their partnership with ExpressVPN will influence other tech companies, though it’s hard to say how long it will take for this influence to manifest.
HP Spectre x360 Specifications
- Size: 12.16 x 8.58 x 0.58 inches (30.88 x 21.79 x 1.47cm; W x D x H)
- Graphics: Intel UHD Graphics 620
- RAM: 8GB DDR4
- CPU: 1.8GHz Intel Core i7-8565U (quad-core, 4MB cache, up to 4.6GHz)-
- Screen: 13.3-inch FHD (1,920 x 1,080) touch panel (WLED, IPS)
- Ports: 2 x Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C), 1 x USB 3.1, 1 x microSD, 1 x 3.5mm audio jack
- Storage: 512GB SSD (PCIe, NVMe, M.2)
- Camera: HP TrueVision FHD IR webcam
- Connectivity: Intel 802.11 b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.2
- Weight: 2.93 pounds (1.33 kg)-
The final verdict
HP’s new Spectre x360 13 comes out this October, and while this laptop may be easy to brush off for reasons of being a yearly iteration of an existing product, I found that it’s much more. Sure, the aesthetics are nice, and yea, the improvements of the 4K screen will be amazing to experience, but the magnum opus of this laptop is the numerous security improvements HP has installed into the laptop.
Security features may not be the features that sell products, but I ensure that this laptop will garner HP an even better reputation than they have now. I also believe that the inclusion of these security features will help influence the industry to focus on security as well, especially with the partnership with ExpressVPN.