Someday we’ll look back on the last three years of the PC industry and remember it as the “throw stuff at the wall” phase.
With manufacturers flummoxed by the rapidly shifting needs of users in the mobile-first landscape, the product design of laptops went in some odd directions. Some models let you detach the laptop’s screen from its base. Others had a screen that does this wild spinny thing and kind of turns into a tablet.
One of these wacky form factors that seems to be sticking around: the 360 hinge. Open up the lid, and it’s a laptop. Keep pushing on the screen and you get a touchscreen with a “tent” stand. Push it all the way around and you eventually get a folded-up tablet, with the bottom of the keyboard facing the back of the screen.
Lenovo started this trend with the Yoga, to great success. Now HP is launching a new device, the most premium laptop in its lineup, with the same hinge: the new Spectre x360.
HP says it’s been working directly with Microsoft on this device, and that the Spectre x360 been a project years in the making. Then you look at, and you wonder, what’s so special about this thing?
HP poured massive resources into improving some of the standard laptop pain points: start-up time, battery life, and Wi-Fi performance.
Yes, it’s pretty, a rounded wedge of a clamshell device made of a silver block of precisely-cut aluminum. It’s simple, elegant, and only slightly full of unnecessary branding—it’s definitely surprising that the price starts at $900, and the fully-specced model is only $1,400. It weighs a little over three pounds, and is a little less than two-thirds of an inch tall.
But there’s nothing dramatic about it, nothing so strange and remarkable you’ve never seen before. And the hinge, the most celebrated thing in the device, is the same one Lenovo’s been making for a few years now. It’s a really good hinge, and I really like the “stand mode” for watching TV while I cook or in bed. But it’s nothing groundbreaking.
Seriously, though, everything about this laptop is great. Everything. The touchpad is gigantic and smooth, the keyboard feels crisp and clicky, the quad-HD screen is accurate and clear. (There’s also a 1080p option.) It’s fast and quiet, too. And HP poured massive resources into improving some of the standard laptop pain points. Those include startup time, which HP says it has dramatically shortened; battery life, which it says is “all day and then some”; and Wi-Fi, which a series of impressive charts say is better in the Spectre x360 than almost any other laptop on earth. It’s designed to be super productive and useful, ever the workhorse and never the showman.
The Spectre x360 is actually HP at its best, in a way. There’s nothing exciting about HP; there hasn’t been in a long time. But HP is about getting shit done, and not taking any nonsense in the process. This is a well-designed PC that’s made specifically to address some of the worst things about other laptops. And that may sound boring, but it’s exactly the right approach. We don’t need our laptops to be exciting, weird, crazy, or innovative. We need them to be great.
The new laptop from HP also just functions very well as a traditional laptop. HP