HP Spectre x360 14 review: Apple’s MacBook laptops have always been christened as some of the best built laptops that don’t compromise on performance. However, I will argue that the Dell XPS 13 and HP Spectre x360 are way superior in these regards. To make my point, I have the HP Spectre x360 14 2021 edition here. Prices start from INR 1.19 lakhs and I have the fully loaded Core i7 variant with a sticker price of INR 1.75 lakhs.
Yes yes, I agree this is completely into the luxury territory and a similarly priced 14-inch MacBook Pro M1 Pro may pack firepower for intensive tasks. But you don’t always buy a PC for video editing, or gaming; like you don’t always buy a Volkswagen for commuting to office. If the wallet permits, it feel nice to do the commute in Mercedes S Class. The HP Spectre x360 14 is representative of the S-Class in the world of laptops.
The Spectre x360 has barely changed its basic ornamental wedge cut shape from the older models, and that’s not a bad thing. In a sea of boring MacBook Pro and rather generic Dell XPS laptops, the Spectre feels special, especially in this shade of Poseidon Blue with brass accents. The ornamental elements make it the envy of your desk neighbour. Just look at the speaker housing: it’s magnificent to behold.
Despite the fancy design treatment, this Spectre x360 has got the necessary ports, including a USB-A SuperSpeed port with 10GBps transfer speeds! Beat that Apple! There are two Thunderbolt 4 USB-C ports that can also accept charging. And, there’s the good old 3.5mm headphone jack.
The 360-degree hinge is firm and whichever angle I left it in, it stuck to that. This helps especially while using it in the tablet and tent modes. The trackpad is big enough for casual use but I had prefer a bigger one to get work done faster.
The keyboard, however, is superb. The feedback replicates that of a mechanical keyboard, with substantial travel. Of the countless stories I have typed on this keyboard, none of them were situation where I felt I needed a better keyboard. Not all slim laptops have such lovely keyboards.
In the entry-level variants, you get touchscreen IPS panels with rated 1000 nits of brightness. My variant, however, has the special OLED display with 400 nits brightness and 3K x 2K resolution. Regardless of the variant, there’s Gorilla Glass NBT protection.
Despite being an OLED display, the colour science has been well-tuned. It is punchy but not over saturated like other OLED display laptops. Viewing angles are fairly wide and touch response has been satisfactory. I appreciate the 3:2 aspect ratio; it helps get work done faster.
With an Intel Core i7-1165G7 processor at the helm, the HP Spectre x360 14 is capable of most regular PC tasks you can throw at it. Assisted by 16GB LPDDR4-3200MHz RAM and 1TB M.2 SSD storage, the Spectre x360 14 absolutely flies with all my office tasks. On the busiest of days, I subjected it to 8-9 active tabs in Google Chrome, have MS Word active in the background, and the Spotify app streaming audio to my Bluetooth speaker. Nothing seemed to bother the Spectre.
With an Intel Iris Xe graphics onboard, you can play a few games too, but not in the bets of ways. This is , after all , not a gaming PC. I was able to run F1 2020 in Medium-High graphics at 30-40 fps. It kicked the fans off and the chassis became warm during those sessions. Yes, it can play old games easily but I won’t recommend. Get an Xbox Series X for that.
During my Prime Video binge watch sessions, the Bang & Olufsen tuned speakers were joyous to listen to. They aren’t as good as the speakers on a M1 MacBook Air but they close in quality. The speakers are loud and there’s adequate bass but it needs a bit more clarity and bass.
I should mention that my unit came installed with Windows 10 and I used it mostly with Windows 11 beta. The experience was smooth and the biometric verification systems worked flawlessly. The IR camera unlocks in dark rooms easily while the fingerprint sensor is for quick unlocks from other angles. The webcam also has an electronic privacy shutter but the quality of the 720p webcam is bad. Come on HP, at least stuff a nicer webcam in your flagship laptop.
This is an area where the HP Spectre x360 14 is more akin to its generic cousins. Even though this is an Intel Evo certified laptop, I was able to get at most 7 hours on a singe charge on regular workdays. Note that my work involves the PC connected to Wi-Fi consistently during office hours and display brightness at 50 percent. The 65W USB-C charger takes almost 1.5 hours for a dull recharge. I was also able to use my 65W USB PD chargers to fill up the battery. Note that the deck warms up slightly while charging.
The 2021 edition of the HP Spectre x360 14 stands tall on our expectations from a luxury Windows laptop. These laptops need to make you feel special, which this one manages to do. These need to have flawless performance on a daily basis, which this does. They also need to have amazing displays; this brings a superb OLED display. The keyboard, build quality, and portable form factor are things that add cherry to the cake that is this Spectre x360 14.
At this price, you also have MacBook Pro M1 Pro, and higher-end variants of the Dell XPS 13. While the other two laptops are equally powerful and look classy, none of them make you feel as special as the HP Spectre x360 14. If you are willing to spend top money on a Windows laptop, we recommend the Spectre x360 14.
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