With all the work you do, the games you play and the videos you watch, you spend a lot of time staring at your monitor. So why not do your eyes a favor and make sure you get one that’s got exactly what you need, whether it’s precise colors, fast response time or just a pleasing design? We’ve delved into some of the better monitors currently on the market to let you know which ones give you the best view for the money.
We hope you weren’t dead set on getting that shiny new HP laptop in early August. HP is warning partners that it won’t ship any orders to customers and resellers between August 1st and August 6th due to a “shipping transition” necessary for its upcoming split into two companies. You can still order whatever you like during that limbo period, but it won’t start moving until August 7th at the earliest. It’s an unusual gap, to put it mildly, but likely important given that HP is orchestrating one of the biggest tech splits ever. Just don’t put off ordering that back-to-school PC — you don’t want corporate maneuvers hurting your academic pursuits.
Via: Register Channel
HP’s got refreshed laptops for budget buyers and those looking for something a bit more premium. The company just announced its latest Pavilion X2 hybrid laptop, which features a 10-inch detachable screen and an Atom Bay Trail processor for just $300. The big change this year is a new magnetic latch which quickly connects the X2’s screen and keyboard, and also lets you easily reorient the laptop in different orientations. Also announced was the new 15.6 and 17.3-inch Envy laptops sporting the latest Intel and AMD processors and double the battery life from last year. The smaller model will run you $630 for the AMD chip or $800 for the Intel one, while the 17.3-inch starts at $1,000. (HP also announced a 14-inch Envy that won’t make it to the U.S.)
Among these new devices, the Pavilion X2 seems more intriguing. Sure, its quad-core Atom processor probably won’t pack punch, but at $300 it’s a good deal for a fully detachable Windows laptop. The X2’s screen weighs just 1.29 pounds on its own — attach the screen and it jumps to 2.48 pounds. It uses USB-C for charging, and it comes with 32GB of storage by default (you can also shell out a bit more for 64GB). HP also claims it lasts almost 11 hours while playing 1080p video.
The new Envy laptops, on the other hand, are pretty much what you’d expect. They’re powerful mainstream tablets meant for buyers who don’t want to shell out for fancy ultraportables. The 15-inch model weighs five pounds (half a pound lighter than its predecessor), which isn’t exactly portable. And good luck lugging the 6.2-pound 17-inch model around. Still, the battery life improvements are impressive: the 15-inch model lasts for 9.5 hours with an Intel chip and 7.5 hours with an AMD processor, while the huge version gets up to 10 hours.
Back when HP first introduced Sprout, an ambitious all-in-one desktop, the company came up with lots of reasons why you might want such an unusual PC — one with an overheard projector/camera, and a touch mat that could act as a second screen. Among the various use cases — gaming, visual projects, teleconferencing — 3D modeling was one of the more obvious scenarios. Imagine: Just put an object in front of the depth-sensing camera, and boom, the computer creates a 360-degree, 3D model that you can view and manipulate onscreen. Unfortunately, the process was far from user-friendly and indeed, HP said at launch that it was working on an app that would make the workflow easier. Fast forward eight months, and the company is ready to show us some improvements. HP just unveiled the software, called 3D Snapshot, as well as an optional $299 “stage” accessory that should make 360-degree capture easier in the first place.
Though the stage is indeed optional, it’s probably worth it. Plug in the turntable via USB, set an object on top of it (note: it doesn’t support objects heavier than 4.4 pounds or taller than 7.5 inches). Press a button and the stage will start to rotate, tilting up to 15 degrees to ensure there are no blank spots in the final image. The result: a 360-degree scan you can use inside HP’s new modeling software. Without the stage, you’d have to manually position objects under the camera to get a clean image that covers every surface. This seems easy to screw up, and it would also be a shame if one were to spend $1,900 on a PC, only to settle for amateurish scans. What I’m saying is, if you care about 3D modeling, you’ll pony up the $299. It’s a small price to pay anyway, considering how much you’ll probably spend on a 3D printer that can actually produce your prototypes.
Once you have your 360-degree scan, 3D Snapshot is where you edit, play with, share and print your creations. That’s the selling point, really: Unlike the existing workflow, this gives users a one-stop shop where they can do everything they need to do without having to open another program, or export any of the data. As far as editing goes, the program will clean up artifacts, as well as let you export and also save as a 2D image. From there, you can share over social media or email. If you send through email, your friend will see an auto-generated gif preview, as well as a link that allows them to view the scan full-size in their browser. As for printing, you can print locally or send to a print-to-server provider.
The software arrives in July, both on new machines and as an automatic software update for people who already own a Sprout.
HP has abruptly changed course on its ‘Machine,’ a new type of memory-driven computer it thinks will radically alter large-scale data processing. When the company first launched it last year, the plan was to use a new kind of memory chip called the “memristor,” which is as fast as DRAM but can permanently store data. The problem is that the tech, which HP expected to commercialize with Hynix in 2013, still isn’t ready. Rather than giving up, though, HP has decided to take it in another direction by using both conventional RAM and phase change memory.
HP figured the Machine would replace data server farms with a computer the size of refrigerator using a fraction of the power. To do that, it would compute using specialized core clusters, photonic circuits and a huge pool of unified memory. For the latter, it depended heavily on the memristors — which store data with no power — and company researchers insisted that any other technology just wouldn’t do. It has scaled that ambition back, however, and chief technology officer Martin Fink now says that for now, it’ll be a “memory-driven” Linux computer based on DRAM. “We way over-associated this with the memristor,” he told the New York Times.
Mechanical mockup of new ‘node board’ for HP’s Machine
Running the Machine on DRAM would make it impractical, but HP says it would still be a radical shift from computers today with a whopping 320TB of memory. The idea is to develop a RAM-based prototype to attract developers to the technology, then introduce a version with phase change memory later. The final product would run on memristors once they’re market-ready.
HP — which recently split its business and consumer divisions — is betting big on The Machine tech and plans on investing a half a billion dollars in it. The company thinks it could eventually be shrunk to smartphone size, giving users Google Now-like AI capability without external servers. Researchers have already shown that similar technology using can already perform chores like image recognition. But critics wonder how much of a game-changer the Machine can be without memristors, and HP itself has now stopped making any predictions as to when it’ll finally arrive.
Via: New York Times
Source: HP (YouTube)
Another month, another handful of reviews. Which means another round of new additions to Engadget’s various buyer’s guides. For the fifth month of the year, we’ve got five new products to induct, including Samsung’s excellent Galaxy S6 and the HP Spectre x360, one of our new favorite laptops. As you’d expect, our other recommendations are solid too, but they each fall squarely in the “not for everybody” category. That includes the Apple Watch, currently the best smartwatch on the market, along with the low-powered Surface 3 and the 12-inch, mostly port-less MacBook. Whatever your tastes, chances are we’ve got something that makes sense for you. Check out the full guide here, and stay tuned for even more picks — because who knows what we’ll be buzzing about next month?
Source: Engadget Buyer’s Guide
Competitive gaming is big enough now in the US that it’s catching ESPN’s attention, so it stands to reason that you’d want a way to bet on those virtual matches, doesn’t it? Ex-Microsoft manager (and Engadget Expand panelist) Rahul Sood thinks so. He just launched Unikrn, a site that makes it easy to wager on eSports. If you live in a country where the company will accept bets (currently Australia), you can plunk down real cash and win jackpots, much like you would with conventional sports betting. You could make a tidy profit betting that a low-ranked League of Legends team will defy the odds, for instance. Even if you live in the US and other nations where real bets are illegal, you can still sign up and win prizes.
It’s a gamble, both figuratively and literally, but Unikrn does have some early support. The startup has already acquired two companies to get its betting system off the ground, and it has partnerships that include Sood’s old outfits HP (which acquired VoodooPC) and Razer as well as CBS Interactive and Logitech. Unikrn might not attract as much hype as the eSports events themselves, but the chances are that you’ll hear more about it in the future.
Intrigued by HP’s luscious new Spectre x360 convertible laptop, but looking for something a bit cheaper? Say hello to the new Pavilion x360 and Envy x360. Starting at $410, the Pavilion x360 is HP’s most cost-effective convertible laptop — meaning its screen can be folded all the way around to its rear to be used like a tablet, or folded tent-like for Netflix binges. The Envy x360, starting at $680, is a step up from the Pavilion with a premium metallic finish and bigger 15.6-inch screen. Both computers are also the first to have Bang & Olufsen’s touch; HP’s new audio tech partner following Beats’ betrothal to Apple. At this point, that just means they’ve been optimized by B&O’s tireless audio engineers, and include some software tweaks to make the best of tiny laptop speakers.
The Envy x360 is certainly the prettier of the pair — and it’s more powerful too, with support for Core i5 and i7 processors and up to 16GB of RAM. The entry-level $680 model gets you a 500GB hard drive and 720p screen, while going up to $770 will net you a terabyte HDD and 1080p display. And of course, you can (and should) opt for a solid-state drive.
But really, the Pavilion x360 is the more interesting convertible. Its 11-inch $410 model is nearly $100 less than Microsoft’s Surface 3 (not including the $130 keyboard), and it’s powered by a Pentium N3700 processor and 4GB of RAM. For $500, you can upgrade to a Core M processor and 128GB SSD. There’s also a 13-inch model for $530 with a Core i3 processor, though you’re only getting a 500GB hard drive, not an SSD. Those are decent prices for an ultraportable laptop, but they’re even more intriguing considering the flexibility of the Pavilion x360’s screen.
If convertibles aren’t really your thing, or you just want something very cheap, HP also announced a refresh of its classic Pavilion lineup starting at $550 for the 14-inch model. You won’t be twisting its screens about, but there are some significant new upgrades, including options for 1080p displays and discrete graphics cards. HP’s also refined its unibody design this year, so even though the Pavilion’s cases are made out of plastic, they should apparently feel sturdier than before.
Both the Pavilion x360 and traditional Pavilion lines will be available on HP’s site on May 13, and will eventually roll out to stores on June 21. You’ll have to wait a bit longer for the Envy x360, which hits HP’s site on June 18 and stores the same day as the Pavilions.
Tempted by HP’s svelte Omen gaming laptop, but need even more horsepower? Say hello to the Omen Pro. It shares the same aluminum 0.78-inch, 4.68 pound frame as its gaming sibling, but it packs in faster Core i7 processors and an NVIDIA Quadro K1100M graphics card. It also shares the original Omen’s a unibody aluminum case and 15.6-inch 1080p touchscreen, and it sits right alongside HP’s ZBook workstations, except it balances style alongside hardware prowess. The Omen Pro is available today, but at $2,199 it’s clearly targeted at the graphics hungry professionals actually making games, and not just people looking for their latest Far Cry fix.
When it comes the storage, you’ve got a choice between HP’s 256GB or 512GB Z Turbo PCI-E solid state drives. Its RAM capacity tops out at 16GB, so if you need even more memory you’d have to forgo style for one of HP’s ZBooks. And of course, the Omen Pro runs Windows 7 professional — because anyone buying a machine like this wouldn’t stand for Windows 8 anyway.
The Spectre x360 is HP’s newest flagship notebook. It’s also probably the closest you’ll get to seeing Microsoft build its own laptop. You see, though the machine has Hewlett-Packard’s name on it, HP designed it in close collaboration with engineers from the Windows team, optimizing everything from the fan noise to the screen’s color gamut. The result is a well-built laptop with fast performance, long battery life and a nearly bloatware-free version of Windows. And at $900 to start, it undercuts almost all of its rivals. Is there anything not to like?
HP and Microsoft may have designed one of my new favorite laptops, but they hardly reinvented the wheel in the process. In fact, I think the pair owes at least a little credit to Lenovo, and maybe Apple, too. Think I’m trolling? Consider the evidence. As its name suggests, the x360 has a 360-degree hinge similar to Lenovo’s Yoga series that allows the screen to fold back into tablet mode (and Tent Mode, and Stand Mode — yep, HP even stole Lenovo’s names for its different usage modes). Then there’s the design. Like the MacBook Air, the x360 is fashioned out of unibody, CNC-machined aluminum, with a wedge-shaped profile that tapers subtly from back to front. It’s not a wholesale copy-job, to be sure, but the machine’s resemblance to a Mac is unmistakable.
HP and Microsoft owe at least a little credit to Lenovo, and maybe Apple, too.
Still, HP managed to improve on what’s otherwise a tried-and-true formula. Take the hinge, for instance. Though it feels as smooth and controlled as anything Lenovo ever produced, HP’s version uses a different kind of mechanism that “folds into itself” (to quote what I was told when I first saw it). This allows the machine to be equally thick regardless of whether the screen is in tablet mode or folded shut, like a regular notebook. Speaking of thickness, the machine measures 15.9mm (or 0.63 inch), with the weight coming in at a relatively heavy 1.44kg, or 3.17 pounds on the Quad HD model. In fact, the x360 is actually 3.26 pounds on the full HD version (one panel is thinner than the other).
Either way, it feels noticeably denser than a typical 13-inch Ultrabook, and it’s definitely heavier than the super-light Yoga 3 Pro. That’s irrelevant if you plan to park it on your desk and use it in Stand or Tent mode to watch movies, and it doesn’t even really matter when you use the thing as a regular notebook — it’s still easy to tote around in your backpack or shoulder bag. What you might find, though, is that a relatively large, 13-inch PC like this, particularly one this heavy, isn’t well-suited for tablet mode. If you do choose to use it that way, I suggest resting it on your lap; holding up a three-plus-pound device gets tiresome after exactly five seconds.
On the plus side, at least, a slightly bulkier machine means fewer compromises when it comes to ports. On board, we have three USB 3.0 connections, along with a full-sized HDMI socket, a Mini DisplayPort, an SD card slot, a headphone jack and a volume rocker, for use in tablet mode. That’s no small thing at a time when some laptop makers are trying to get away with including just one port. Finally, HP sells Ethernet and HDMI-to-VGA adapters for $30 apiece. (In my first look, I initially said they came in the box, but that’s not true; HP just included them gratis for us reviewers.)
In addition to that lie-flat hinge, the keyboard and trackpad are also entirely HP’s — and in some ways they’re better than the competition, too. The metal buttons have a similar spacious, island-style layout as many rival machines, except the keys have a full 1.5mm of travel, making them much cushier than what I’m used to on Ultrabooks. (Perhaps this is one benefit to having a slightly thicker machine: less of a reason to settle for a flat, lifeless keyboard.) In addition, I appreciate how relatively quiet the buttons are, even despite their springiness. Also, most of the keys are large enough that I can find them by feel, without having to worry about hitting the wrong one. Even the arrow keys — some of the few shrunken buttons here — were easy to get to when I wanted to highlight text.
What’s funny is that although HP teamed up with Microsoft on this, it didn’t use one of Microsoft’s own “Precision” touchpads; instead, it went with a clickpad from Synaptics. Make that an extra-wide clickpad — the trackpad here has much the same elongated shape as on the Spectre 13, HP’s last-generation flagship. When that model first came out, the idea was that people could use so-called touch zones on either end of the trackpad to more easily pull off certain gestures specific to Windows 8 — you know, like swiping in from the right to expose the Charms Bar. As it happens, the Charms Bar is about to go away in Windows 10 (set to launch in a few months) and so, there are no touch zones here, per se; just one really wide touchpad. HP figured, even if you don’t need those zones anymore, you might still enjoy having the extra horizontal space. I have to say I do.
In general, the touchpad is reliable; the cursor almost always goes where I intended, and multitouch gestures like two-finger scrolls work well, too. I would prefer a slightly lower-friction touch surface, but if a little more drag means more accurate tracking, then that’s fine. Better that than a smooth touchpad that doesn’t actually do what I want it to.
The x360 comes standard with a 1080p, optically bonded touchscreen, but is also offered with a 2,560 x 1,440 panel for an extra hundred bucks. Unfortunately, I’ve only had the chance to test the full HD edition, so I can’t tell you firsthand just how pixel-dense the Quad HD option is. But I think I can guess, and I bet you can too. If you think the 13-inch MacBook Pro’s 2,560 x 1,600 display is gorgeous, you will probably appreciate this as well. As it is, I didn’t find myself pining for the sharper panel, especially considering how great the battery life is when you settle for the lower resolution. Thanks to a 72 percent color gamut, the tones here are nice and rich, though not overly saturated. Also, though the viewing angles on this IPS screen aren’t perfect, they’re wide enough that I could still watch movies and get work done with the screen dipped forward, within a certain range of flexibility. As for audio, the dual speakers on the laptop’s bottom side exhibit some of the tinniness I’ve come to expect from notebooks, but it’s no worse than what I’ve observed on other machines.
Performance and battery life
|PCMark7||3DMark06||3DMark11||ATTO (top disk speeds)|
|HP Spectre x360 (2015, 2.2GHz Intel Core i5-5200U, Intel HD 5500)||4,965||8,810||
E1,667 / P932 / X265
|555 MB/s (reads); 270 MB/s (writes)|
|Dell XPS 13 (2015, 2.2GHz Intel Core i5-5200U, Intel HD 5500)||4,900||7,433||
E2,114 / P1,199 / X330
|515 MB/s (reads); 455 MB/s (writes)|
|Lenovo Yoga 3 Pro (1.1GHz Intel M-5Y70, Intel HD 5300)||4,699||4,734||
E1,076 / P595 / X175
|554 MB/s (reads); 261 MB/s (writes)|
|Samsung ATIV Book 9 2014 Edition (1.6GHz Core i5-4200U, Intel HD 4400)||4,835||5,947||
E1,752 / P948 / X297
|551 MB/s (reads); 141 MB/s (writes)|
|Microsoft Surface Pro 3 (1.9GHz Core i5-4300U, Intel HD 4400)||5,024||5,053||
E1,313 / P984
|555 MB/s (reads); 252 MB/s (writes)|
|Samsung ATIV Book 9 Plus (1.6GHz Core i5-4200U, Intel HD 4400)||4,973||5,611||
E1,675 / P867 / X277
|547 MB/s (reads); 508 MB/s (writes)|
|Acer Aspire S7-392 (1.6GHz Intel Core i5-4200U, Intel HD 4400)||5,108||5,158||
E1,724 / P952 / X298
|975 MB/s (reads); 1.1 GB/s (writes)|
Like so many other laptops coming out around now, the Spectre x360 makes use of Intel’s new fifth-generation Core processors, code-named “Broadwell.” In fact, the configuration I tested had the same 2.2GHz dual-core Core i5-5200 chip and 8GB as the Dell XPS 13, except paired with a different solid-state drive. Unsurprisingly, then, I observed mostly the same fast performance, including speedy seven-second boot-ups and resume times of less than a second. The benchmarks back this up too, with scores that largely match the XPS 13 (though the jury seems to be out on which is the graphics champ).
Wireless performance is another area where HP and Microsoft put their heads together. The machine makes use of a 2×2 802.11ac WiFi radio, though the two companies claim it has stronger range than even similarly configured systems, with wireless throughput not dropping off as quickly in either the 2.4GHz or 5GHz bands. I’m not equipped to test that in any sort of scientific way, but I can say that wireless streaming was fast and reliable, and that the machine was also quick to reconnect after coming out of sleep.
If there’s one area where the x360 trails its peers, it’s disk speeds. Though it does indeed come standard with an SSD (a Samsung-made one, in my case), these are of the slower mSATA variety — not PCIe-based disks like we’re used to seeing on other flagship laptops. That means while its peak read speeds of 555 MB/s are quite healthy, its max writes of 270 MB/s are relatively low. On some rival machines, you might see writes in the 500-and-something-megabytes-per-second range, and then there are outliers like the new 13-inch MacBook Pro, which delivered 1.3 GB/s reads and 643.6 MB/s write speeds. Again, none of that seems to have a negative effect on things like boot and app-load times, but depending on what you’re doing and how hard you push the system, you may wish you had some faster transfer speeds.
|HP Spectre x360||11:34|
|MacBook Air (13-inch, 2013)||12:51|
|Apple MacBook Pro with Retina display (13-inch, 2015)||11:23|
|Apple MacBook Pro with Retina display (13-inch, late 2013)||11:18|
|Chromebook Pixel (2015)||10:01|
|Samsung ATIV Book 9 Plus||8:44|
|Dell XPS 13 (2015)||7:36|
|Lenovo Yoga 3 Pro||7:36|
|Acer Aspire S7-392||7:33|
|Microsoft Surface Pro 3||7:08|
HP rates the x360 for up to 12.5 hours of runtime, depending on the configuration (meaning: The lower-res model lasts longest). Part of that’s thanks to a large, 56Wh battery, but HP and Microsoft also pored over the system settings, looking for places where they could make the machine just a little more power efficient. Together, they decided to shut down certain parts of the system when not in use, including the sensors in the hinge that tell the x360 what mode it’s in. They also aimed for low fan noise, in part to conserve juice (and I think they succeeded there). Meanwhile, the Quad HD panel uses PSR (Panel Self Refresh) technology, which avoids changing pixels unnecessarily to reduce power consumption. After speaking with an HP spokesperson, it’s clear that the QHD model still doesn’t get quite the same battery life as the 1080p edition, but perhaps details like that at least help close the gap. Again, I didn’t test the higher-res version, so I can’t say firsthand.
All of this is to say, the battery life really is as long as promised. On the unit I tested, which had a 1080p screen, I very nearly made it to the half-day mark — 11 hours and 34 minutes of video playback, to be precise. In fact, were it not for my aggressive test settings (WiFi on with brightness fixed at 65 percent), the machine would have lasted even longer. Either way, 11.5 hours is an excellent showing for a laptop this size. The only one we’ve tested that does better is the MacBook Air. Otherwise, the Spectre x360 manages to slightly edge out the new 13-inch MacBook Pro, which is in a similar weight class. HP’s flagship also far surpasses plenty of lighter-weight Ultrabooks — machines like the Yoga 3 Pro, Acer Aspire S7, the Samsung ATIV Book 9 Plus and Dell’s new XPS 13. The Spectre x360 might be heavier than all those systems, but it at least justifies its extra heft with longer runtime.
Given that Microsoft helped design the x360, it’s fair to assume it also runs a relatively clean version of Windows. The operative word being “relatively.” My test machine came with Netflix and The Weather Channel, as well as Hearts Deluxe and a few of HP’s own apps, like Connected Photo. It also includes a free one-year subscription to McAfee’s LiveSafe service. That security coverage is actually pretty useful, though McAfee’s desktop pop-ups can be quite annoying (seriously, does it ever learn?). In any case, that little bit of bloatware disqualifies it from being one of Microsoft’s Signature Series machine, but it’s a clean build nonetheless — definitely the cleanest I’ve seen from HP.
Additionally, it should go without saying, but the Spectre x360 ships with Windows 8.1, and, like other Windows 8.1 machines, will be eligible for a free upgrade to Windows 10 when it comes out later this year. What’s unique in this case is that because HP worked so closely with Microsoft, the x360 is perhaps better optimized for Windows than some of its competitors. For now, most of that optimization has centered on Windows 8.1, but representatives from both camps have indicated to me that after the x360 went on sale, they’d be shifting their engineering resources to focus more on Win 10.
The Spectre x360 is currently offered in three configurations, priced at $900, $1,150 and $1,400. Starting with the entry-level model, you get the same Core i5-5200U processor I tested here, along with 4GB of RAM and a 1080p touchscreen. Of the three, this is the only one that’s customizable, with options to double the RAM ($50), add a Quad HD screen ($100) or upgrade to a dual-core i7 processor ($150). You can also swap out the standard 128GB SSD for a 256GB one ($50) or a 512GB disk ($200).
Moving on, the $1,150 model keeps the 1,920 x 1,080 display, but steps up to a Core i7 CPU, 8GB of memory and 256GB of storage. Finally, there’s the top-of-the-line $1,400 model, which has a higher-res 2,560 x 1,440 screen and a 512GB SSD (in addition to a Core i7 CPU and 8GB of RAM). That’s currently sold out on HP’s site, but a company spokesperson says it should be back in stock within the coming weeks. Either way, if you were doing the math earlier, you saw that configuring the base $900 model with tricked-out specs comes to the same price of $1,400, so really, it’s not actually “out of stock”; you just have to check off more boxes to get it.
I’ve read other tech writers refer to the HP Spectre x360 as a “MacBook Air competitor.” That’s fair, but also a little lazy: It’s a MacBook Air competitor to the extent that every Windows Ultrabook is. The point is, if it’s a thin-and-light, high-end laptop you’re looking for, you’ve got lots of options. Too many options, almost. For the sake of not overwhelming you, let’s just focus on the best.
Perhaps the most direct comparison would be to the Lenovo Yoga 3 Pro ($1,249-plus), which also has a 360-degree hinge and flagship specs. At just 2.6 pounds and half an inch thick, it is insanely thin and light, especially for a laptop with a touchscreen and a convertible design. That said, that thinness and lightness come with a couple trade-offs. For one, that compact design is only possible thanks to one of Intel’s lower-power Core M processors, which, while perfectly adequate for basic tasks, is not as robust as a fifth-gen Core CPU. Two, there isn’t much room for a big battery inside that slim chassis. Indeed, the battery life falls four hours short of what you’ll get on the Spectre x360, though it admittedly isn’t much better than other skinny Ultrabooks.
If you can live without a convertible design, your options become even more plentiful. Our new favorite is the Dell XPS 13 ($800-plus), which crams a 13-inch display into the body of an 11-inch machine, making it way more compact than other machines with the same screen size. At 2.6 pounds, it too is very light for a touchscreen system, and we’re fans of its comfy keyboard, fast performance, vibrant screen and surprisingly good audio. My main gripes are that the battery life is merely average, at least if you configure it with a touchscreen, and that if you do want a touch panel, it costs an extra $500. That’s because the only touchscreen option has 3,200 x 1,800 resolution; you can’t get it with a full HD touch panel, like with the Spectre x360. A shame, that.
Lastly, yes, there’s the 13-inch MacBook Air, which starts at $999. This, too, was recently refreshed with Intel’s Broadwell CPUs, with the battery life still rated for up to 12 hours. As ever, we enjoy the aluminum design (though it’s slightly heavier than the competition, at 2.96 pounds), as well as the keyboard and best-in-class trackpad. The biggest trade-off you’ll make here is the screen quality: It’s the only laptop in the Mac lineup that doesn’t have a Retina display; just 1,440 x 900 on the 13-inch model.
I asked at the beginning of this review if there’s anything not to like about the Spectre x360. Indeed there is: the machine’s relative heaviness. At three-plus pounds, it’s hardly a clunker, but it is noticeably weightier than other 13-inch machines. Curiously, though, that weight also makes possible so many of the things I like about the laptop. Because the x360 is slightly bulkier than its rivals, it can accommodate a cushier keyboard and a bigger battery, allowing for nearly best-in-class runtime. It also makes room for a ton of ports. If you’re shopping in this size class, I’d also suggest you consider a few other models, like the lighter-weight Dell XPS 13, but even then, the specs HP offers for the money are hard to beat. Particularly if you prefer something with a more convertible design, the x360 is a strong — and reasonably priced — choice.