ZDNET’s key takeaways
- HP’s 2024 Specter x360 Almost all are there; From a stunning display to room-filling speakers and a 9MP webcam.
- It sports an Intel Meteor Lake processor and next-generation graphics card to make it the ideal laptop for work and entertainment.
- It has an attractive angular design, but some may find its lack of ports and use of docking stations awkward.
For years, I’ve wanted an iPad. It is a premier tablet for multiple reasons like solid hardware and wide range of features. But after trying HP 2024 Specter x360I’ve changed my mind — I don’t want an iPad anymore.
While a 2-in-1 laptop isn’t nearly as comparable to a tablet as, well, a laptop, it’s better than any iPad model I’ve tried — able to excel in multiple situations; Be it entertainment or work.
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My great time with the Specter x360 started the moment I opened the lid, revealing a 14-inch 2.8K (2,880 x 1,800 pixels) OLED screen that was basically eye candy. Vibrant colors, deep blacks, and high-level on-screen detail greeted me, and it felt like I was looking at the Asus Zenbook 14 Flip OLED again. What if I told you that HP’s latest laptop isn’t the best part?
At the top is an impressive, wide-angle 9MP webcam. This is, by far, the most beautiful webcam I’ve ever had the pleasure of using. Image quality is unmatched and blows away all of the 5MP and 7MP lenses I’ve tested out of the water. Thanks to the pristine OLED display, the video feed remains crystal clear with good color balance even in low light environments.
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The webcam is supported by several AI features powered by the internal NPU (Neural Processing Unit). You have Windows Studio Effects, which can blur the background to maintain your privacy or toggle automatic framing to keep you always in the center frame. The microphone also has noise cancellation to prevent outside noise from leaking in, a feature I greatly appreciated while typing this review in a bustling cafe.
Putting everything together, HP has created one of the best laptops for video conferencing.
Speaking of audio, the Specter x360 has an excellent set of pipes. The machine is equipped with a pair of IMAX-enhanced tweeters and two woofers. Laptops tend to struggle when it comes to outputting good quality sound. Most of the time, manufacturers opt out of adding woofers, resulting in tinny sound. Not so with Spectre. Because of its setup, music and movie audio sound punchy. The track has depth since the speaker can properly output deep bass. Speakers have their own support features; Most notably DTS:X Ultra, enabling immersive audio. Combined with an OLED screen, HP’s device offers an entertainment experience second only to a home theater.
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Life is not all fun and games as people have to work. Fortunately, Specter has you covered with every model sporting a Meteor Lake CPU. My review unit is equipped with an Intel Core Ultra 7 155H and 32GB of RAM. To see what the hardware is capable of, I ran the laptop through Cinebench R23, scoring 8,643 points. Although it falls short of HP’s claimed benchmarking score, it can still outperform most of Intel’s other processors except for higher-end models like the Intel Core i9-9880H. But still, it’s not a wide gap.
As impressive as the hardware may be, I don’t recommend the Specter x360 for gaming. Its Intel Arc graphics are a direct upgrade to the Iris Xe and allow it to handle video games better than ever, but it still can’t compete at the same level as GeForce graphics cards. You will experience significant performance issues at high graphical settings. Of course, that doesn’t mean you can’t play less graphic-intensive titles.
What’s interesting about the Meteor Lake series is that Intel has made a concerted effort to optimize efficiency. It definitely shows in the battery. I did my normal battery test playing a YouTube livestream at 720p at 50 percent brightness until the laptop died. The Specter x360 ran for 10 hours, making it one of the longest-running laptops I’ve ever tested.
Finally, let’s talk about the design because I love what HP has done with the laptop, although I can tell some people will have issues with it. The Specter x360 has an interesting blocky aesthetic. Each key is a near-perfect square, plus two corners are flat; Two of the rounder Specter’s four ports are in the corners: a USB-C input on the right and a headphone jack on the left. The other two are another USB-C input and a USB-A port for flash drives. Yes, that’s all you get.
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HP’s solution is packaging two docking stations with the Specter, allowing users to expand their array of ports. With docks, you can add additional USB inputs as well as an HDMI port The good news is that the charger still works through the docking station. Don’t worry about feeling like you’re forced to choose between connecting or keeping the laptop. You can have both.
ZDNET’s buying advice
It’s early in the year, and already HP’s 2024 Specter x360 This is running for one of my favorite laptops of the year. It checks a lot of boxes for me: great display, bassy speakers, solid performance, and even the keyboard is great. Larger size allows for larger keycaps than previous models. Caps combined with the laptop’s durable construction offer a comfortable typing experience.
The 2024 Specter x360 starts at $1,449.99 and is available in multiple configurations. The unit I reviewed was one of the higher end models with the aforementioned Intel Core i7 processor and 2TB of storage. It costs $1,878.99.