Just before the pandemic hit us, HP had introduced the newest version of its convertible, the HP Spectre x360, a 13-inch beauty, in India. The launch event — we used to have them back them — was a ‘gala’ complete with Bollywood presence. That of course means something ‘lifestyle-ish is on the cards.

The new Spectre x360 certainly makes a lifestyle statement with the way it looks. Cool dark metal combines with warm gold glints in a way that makes the notebook look like a box of extremely expensive chocolate. The unit I received was apparently “Poseidon Blue” with pale brass accents. I’ll have to stretch my imagination to see the dark grey, nice as it is, as a blue, but whatever the precise shade, it looks very elegant. There are two other colours: Nightfall Black with copper accents, and a Natural Silver.

The finer points

An amazing amount of attention has been paid to finer points of design on this convertible laptop — the display goes back all the way making it a tablet when needed, hence the 360, of course. The pale brass accents are all over the place, but beautifully placed so that they’re not garish for a even a moment. The HP logo top centre, the sides of the hinges, the outer edges and thin bezels, and if you look carefully even the inset of the touchpad, are all accented. The whole look is very upper echelon and arrived. It gives a statement of being secure in one’s position and confident in one’s abilities. And I don’t say that for very many notebooks! HP says the device is meant for Gen Z.

This convertible can be both tablet and notebook because the screen goes back all the way. The hinge gives you the right feel of balance between strength and smoothness. As you push it back, you don’t have to struggle at all and at the same time it doesn’t have so much give as to drop back out of control. When the display is pushed back it can stop at any position but they’re not necessarily ideal as the upper part may wobble. The best positions for using this machine are upright notebook, back all the way, and in tent mode to watch something or make a presentation. When you push it back, Windows takes it to its tablet mode rather than the desktop mode. In both tent and tablet modes, the pen (provided in the box) comes in very handy.

As you begin to use it, you’ll notice the ultra-slim bezels and gem cut dual chamfer angular bits that also add to the sophisticated look of the device. It’s really feels beautifully light, at 1.27 kg and one wouldn’t have the slightest qualms slipping it into a stylish case and walking about feeling like the cat’s whiskers with it. HP claims it is the smallest convertible with a screen to body ratio of 90 per cent. That would be a 22-hour work day, which is how long the battery is designed to last.

A workaround tablet

In tablet mode, the machine does become a bit heavy and unwieldy, but that’s not a specific drawback of this notebook as all convertibles have the same issue. They sort of pretend to be a tablet, but can’t compare to a standalone tablet because those are lighter and thinner and use Android or iPad OS and have thousands of dedicated apps to choose from. As a workaround tablet however, which you can use for specific tasks, it does as good a job as most.

As a notebook, you’ll find the rich 4K OLED HDR.touchscreen very nice, including in bright light. It has very nice viewing angles and deep colours. Touch sensitivity is okay though it takes a little getting used to. The keyboard on the Spectre x360 is really quite wonderful. As a touch typist I found it smooth and buttery to type on as my fingers flew over the keys as if I had always been using this keyboard.

For power, the x360 uses the 10th Gen Intel Core i7-1065G7 CPU and it’s from the 10nm ‘Ice Lake' category paired with up to 16GB RAM and 512GB SSD storage. It comes with quite a few contemporary things. It has an LTE modem, for example. It has a fingerprint sensor for secure login. It has an instant webcam kill switch. It supports Wi-Fi 6. It has a nicely hidden power button, the location of which I don’t want to reveal. It has USB-C, IR camera and it has Bang & Olufsen speakers.

At a starting price of ₹99,990 one could be tempted to say this laptop is expensive. But it isn’t a budget buy and top end laptops are actually equivalent. So are laptop-like products like the iPad Pro. If you’re not specifically looking for a notebook on a tight budget and want good design and top end specs, the Spectre x360 is worth your consideration.

Price: The Poseidon Blue edition is at a starting price of ₹99,990

Pros: Beautiful nuanced design, light and portable, strong hinge for flip-back, very comfortable buttery keyboard,

Cons: Nothing in particular