Refining an Almost-Perfect Laptop: HP’s New Spectre 13

Introduction

HP’s Spectre laptops consistently earn themselves a spot on the “Top X Laptops Of the Year” lists, and it’s no wonder why.

From prices ranging from cheap to luxury, quality staying consistent, and the aesthetics keeping a sleek, minimalistic design, the Spectre laptops have been marked as the consumer’s laptop.

HP seems keen on keeping it this way, as the press release for the new Spectre x360 13 features numerous upgrades made in every section of the laptop. Display, internals, performance, security, you name it. Actually, that’s what I’ll be doing to show you the improvements HP has made with the new Spectre x360 13.

Display

Previous Spectre laptops offered a 1080p option along with a 4K option, and this Spectre is no different. However, the 4K screen received some improvements that I think many will see fitting.

To start, the 4K screen will be using OLED technology instead of regular LCD technology. If you’re not sure what effect this move will have on the screen, don’t worry–let me tell you.

OLED screens offer better color reproduction and accuracy, all while being able to use HDR. Oh yeah, the new Spectre uses True Black HDR as well. I wasn’t lying when I said the 4K screen received a few improvements!

Sure, but what about the 1080p screen? Well, not much has changed on that front, as OLED on 1080p is a waste of money and potential. Fortunately, the 1080p screen will receive one improvement that the 4K screen gets as well, which is the trimming of bezels.

With the new 90% screen-to-body ratio on the Spectre, there’s a lot of screens to go around, with barely any bezel to get in the way.

Overall, the display improvements impressed me. But the impressed train doesn’t stop here.

Internals/Performance

Every annual release sees a spec bump in performance, making this section the most boring section to list, but I’m pretty happy with the performance improvements HP made.

The CPU, for example, will be upgraded to Intel’s new 10k series of processors–a decent jump from the previous 8k series.

And with a CPU upgrade, the integrated GPU (iGPU) will be replaced as well. The Intel Iris Plus will be replacing the old Intel UHD 620, offering another performance boost. Though, it’s still an iGPU, so don’t expect to do any graphics-intensive work on this laptop.

HP claims that both of these upgrades result in double the performance of the previous Spectre–a bold claim. Is it true? Unfortunately, I couldn’t tell you even if I wanted to, as the laptops are on backorder and won’t be shipped until early November.

Until then, allow me to list the other internal improvements.

The press release advertises the battery life at 22-hours, though, of course, your mileage will vary and you probably won’t reach near 22-hours with regular usage.

However, that’s still probably over 10+ hours of usage, which is pretty great.

There’s not much else going in the internals department, but the improvements we did receive are perfect. I’d go as far as to say the number of improvements are much more than expected from a laptop with an annual release schedule!

Of course, there’s the security section to talk about, and this is where the press release gets interesting.

Security Improvements

Many tech companies don’t care about improving security. Why would they? Profit doesn’t come from security improvements–it comes from performance and aesthetics.

However, HP decided to focus on security anyways, and I’m so happy they did, as the security improvements they’ve brought make the new Spectre one of the most secure laptops I’ve seen in recent years.

Let’s start with the webcam–a constant source of paranoia. Many people believe that either cybercriminals or the NSA are spying on them through their webcam, and I can’t blame them.

Many laptops incorporate the use of a webcam cover, but the webcam is still on, which keeps that paranoid feeling alive.

The new Spectre 13, however, adopts a kill-switch, allowing the user to turn off the webcam at their discretion. I really like this feature and would love to see it used in future laptops.

HP made sure to give similar treatment to the internal microphone, though the improvement isn’t as ground-breaking. The microphone will be connected to a mute button, which allows the user to…well, I’m sure you can guess.

An LED indicator will be hooked up as well, allowing the user to know when the microphone is muted. Useful, simple, and should also be included on every laptop.

Another thing HP added to the new Spectre 13 is the option for a built-in privacy screen. While this option is great, there is one catch: it won’t be available until January.

However, if you need a privacy screen because you use your laptop in public places and rather not have everyone see what you’re working on, I recommend waiting.

To wrap this up, we have HP’s newfound partnership with ExpressVPN, one of the more reputable VPNs available right now.

Their partnership allows the VPN to come preinstalled on the new Spectre, along with a free 30-day trial to the VPN being bundled with the laptop.

I like this last feature, not because of the 30-day trial, but because HP seems to care about spreading awareness of cybersecurity, and that’s something I like to see.

It rarely happens too, so seeing HP leading the charge here is nice.

Conclusion

Overall, I’m nothing but impressed with HP’s new Spectre x360 13.

Yes, it’s not exactly innovating on anything, and sure, not all of these improvements are A+, but I think this laptop can be the laptop of the year. That’s impressive, considering Microsoft is releasing its new Surface products this month.

For an annual refresh, the list of improvements is colossal, and I can’t wait to get my hands on one. Until then, I’ll make sure to stare at the press release until it gets here.

Jack is an accomplished cybersecurity expert with years of experience under his belt at TechWarn, a trusted digital agency to world-class cybersecurity companies.

A passionate digital safety advocate himself, Jack frequently contributes to tech blogs and digital media sharing expert insights on cybersecurity and privacy tools.