The Spectre 13 was already HP’s flashiest laptop, and today HP is unveiling a second generation of the computer that makes it look even sharper. The new Spectre 13 is just as thin — at only 10.4mm — but this year it’s significantly narrower and shallower, with slimmed-down bezels on all sides of its 13-inch display. It’s now configured with a touchscreen, and there’s a 4K option, too, neither of which were available on the original 2016 model. HP claims it’s the “world’s thinnest” touchscreen laptop.
While specs and size may be the more important attributes here, the most noticeable change to the Spectre 13 is a new color option. It’s called “ceramic white,” and it looks great. The top and inside of the laptop feature aluminum that’s been treated with a smooth white coating that gives it a semi-glossy ceramic look, without the additional weight of ceramic. There’s also a “pale gold” accent along the edges of the computer and on a thick strip along the back. I really liked the black-and-copper look HP used last year, but this might be its new winner. (That color option will still be available, and, in a smart move, the glossy fingerprint-magnet of an accent bar on the back is now matte, like on the white version.)
The laptop will ship with eighth-generation Intel processors. Even though it’s a thin laptop, the Spectre 13 uses real Core i processors (the U series ones), all of which are quad-core this time. HP also says it’s improved the battery life this year — a complaint of ours the last time around — claiming a little over 11 hours of use. (Last year’s model fell a bit more than two hours short of HP’s estimate, so 11 may be a stretch.) Another issue HP is addressing: the laptop’s speakers. They get a lot louder now and manage to sound clearer at the same time.
The Spectre 13’s base configuration will sell for $1,299.99 and be available starting October 29th. HP’s original Spectre 13 was as much a statement as it was a high-end PC, and this year HP seems determined to once again prove that it can compete with the best when it comes to design.
In addition to updating the Spectre 13, HP is also updating the 13-inch Spectre x360 — a slightly thicker and more powerful laptop that’s able to flip around into a tablet mode. The changes aren’t quite as noticeable here, but the laptop has received a very subtle design overhaul. Its edges are now more angular, and more importantly, HP has moved the vents from the side of the laptop around to the back, where they’re a lot subtler and supposed to keep the machine cooler. The laptop is also ever-so-slightly smaller in all dimensions, allowing the bezels to get ever-so-slightly smaller, too.
This year, the x360 will come with a fingerprint reader embedded on the side of the laptop by default. There’s still a Windows Hello camera for face detection login on the inside, but HP thinks the fingerprint sensor will come in handy for when the laptop is being used in different modes where the camera can’t readily detect your face.
Another new option this year is the ability to add HP’s “Sure View” tech, which lets you hit a button on the laptop to make the screen harder to read by prying eyes. The original version of the tech did that by cutting off light from the edges of the screen, but the version in the x360 instead blasts light out the sides, making everything white and unreadable unless you’re looking straight on. That drains the battery a bit more, but it definitely works. Until now, this feature has been limited to some of HP’s business-focused laptops, but with the x360, HP is trying to see whether customers are interested in that kind of privacy feature from a consumer laptop, too.
Like the Spectre 13, the updated x360 is getting quad-core eighth-generation Core i processors. It’s also getting a slight battery life boost, and it’s getting a 4K display option as well. The updated model will start at $1,149.99 and be available the same day as the Spectre 13, on October 29th.