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HP Spectre x360 (2017) review: The best just keeps getting better

Despite a revamp late last year, the dust hasn’t settled around HP’s 13.3-inch Spectre x360 just yet. A modest spring update of our favorite convertible gives it perks that first appeared in its revamped 15-inch sibling.

Yep, that’s right. If you bought a Spectre x360 even a month ago, you may be slightly aggravated to learn that HP now ships it with active pen support. (A pen even comes in the box as an included accessory.) A 4K UHD option for the screen is available, too. With these additions, the x360 now has every major feature you could want from an ultraportable.

The only thing keeping the Spectre x360 from rising even further above its peers is the small price you pay for these upgrades—partially in cold, hard cash, partially in performance. But even without changing its position in the pack, this notebook is still the convertible to beat.

A quick recap

Since there’s so much overlap between the Fall 2016 and Spring 2017 models of the Spectre x360, let’s start with an overview of its standout points. (I’ll leave the fuller overview of shared attributes to our previous Spectre x360 review.)

HP Spectre x360 2017 top view comparison shot between 4K model and FHD model Alaina Yee/IDG

The Fall 2016 (right) and Spring 2017 Spectre x360 (left) are virtually the same, save for a few additional features in the 2017 model.

First off, it weighs less than three pounds and fits easily inside a bag. It also has a flexible form factor, easily transforming between tablet, traditional clamshell, and other modes.

Inside, it packs the fastest processor allowed in this class of laptop—a 7th-generation Intel Core i7 dual-core CPU—with an equally blistering fast PCIe-NVMe storage drive to go with it. On the outside, you get a comfortable keyboard, a pleasant trackpad, and even a set of worthwhile speakers. The Spectre x360 also has a well-placed integrated IR camera that supports Windows Hello and avoids a constant view of your throat in every video chat. And of course, you get a beautifully crisp IPS panel with 10-point touch.

Oh, and it costs less than most other thin-and-light laptops with similar configurations. (More on that later.)

That said, there are a couple of changes to note. The 2017 Spectre x360 no longer comes with a USB-C to Gigabit ethernet adapter—instead, you get a pen accessory as your freebie. (You do still get a free sleeve, though.) It also seems to cost a little bit more. Our previous Kaby Lake review unit cost $1,300, but if you configure a system on HP.com with the exact same specs, it’s now $1,350.

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