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HP's new Spectre x360 is already one of my favorite laptops of the year. Here's why

The 2024 Spectre x360 from HP offers solid performance for work and entertainment; perfect for a next-gen machine.
Written by Cesar Cadenas, Contributing Writer
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Cesar Cadenas/ZDNET

ZDNET's key takeaways

  • HP's 2024 Spectre x360 nearly has it all; from a stunning display to room-filling speakers and a 9MP webcam.
  • It sports an Intel Meteor Lake processor and next-gen graphics card to become the ideal laptop for work and entertainment.
  • It has an interesting angular design, however some may find its lack of ports frustrating and its usage of docking stations awkward.

For years now, I've wanted an iPad. It's a premier tablet for multiple reasons, like the solid hardware and a wide array of features. But after trying out HP's 2024 Spectre x360, I changed my mind -- I don't want an iPad anymore. 

While a 2-in-1 laptop is not nearly as comparable to a tablet as it is to, well, a laptop, it's better than any iPad model that I've tried out -- able to excel in multiple situations; be it entertainment or work. 

Also: Apple's next MacBook Air, iPad Pro, and iPad Air could launch as early as March

My great time with the Spectre x360 started the moment I lifted the lid open, unveiling a 14-inch 2.8K (2,880 x 1,800 pixels) OLED screen that was basically eye candy. Vibrant colors, deep blacks, and high-level on-screen detail greeted me, and it was as if I was looking at the Asus Zenbook 14 Flip OLED again. What if I told you that wasn't the best part of the latest laptop from HP?

View at HP

At the top is an impressive, wide-angle 9MP webcam. It is, by far, the nicest webcam that I've had the pleasure of using. The image quality is unmatched and blows all of the 5MP and 7MP lenses I've experienced before out of the water. Thanks to the immaculate OLED display, the video feed remains crystal clear with good color balance even in low-light environments.

Also: This Acer laptop surprised me with one of the best OLED screen and webcam pairings I've tested in a while

Supporting the webcam are several AI features powered by the internal NPU (neural processing unit). You have Windows Studio Effects, which can blur the background to maintain your privacy or toggle automatic framing to keep you in the center frame at all times. There's also noise removal on the microphone to prevent outside sound from leaking in, a feature I greatly appreciate as I type this review at a bustling cafe.

Putting everything together, HP has created one of the best laptops for video conferencing.

Speaking of audio, the Spectre x360 has a nice set of pipes. The machine comes equipped with a pair of IMAX-enhanced tweeters and two woofers. Laptops tend to struggle when it comes to outputting good-quality sound. Much of the time, manufacturers opt out of adding woofers, resulting in tinny audio. That's not the case with the Spectre. Due to its setup, music and movie audio sound punchy. There's depth to tracks since the speakers can properly output deep bass. The speakers have their own supporting features; most notably DTS:X Ultra, enabling immersive audio. Combined with the OLED screen, HP's device offers an entertainment experience second only to home theaters.

Also: The best feature on this Asus laptop is the one you'll stare at the least

Life is not all fun and games as people do have to work. Luckily, the Spectre has you covered with each model sporting a Meteor Lake CPU. My review unit came equipped with the Intel Core Ultra 7 155H and 32GB of RAM. To see what the hardware is capable of, I ran the laptop through Cinebench R23, earning a score of 8,643 points. Although it falls short of HP's purported benchmarking scores, it still manages to outclass most of Intel's other processors except for the higher-end models like the Intel Core i9-9880H. But even then, it's not a wide gap.

As impressive as the hardware may be, I don't recommend the Spectre x360 for gaming. Its Intel Arc graphics is a direct upgrade to the Iris Xe and does allow it to handle video games better than before, but it still can't compete on the same level as a GeForce graphics card. You will experience significant performance issues at high graphical settings. Of course, that doesn't mean you can't play the less graphic-intensive titles.

What's interesting about the Meteor Lake series is that Intel made a concerted effort to optimize efficiency. It certainly shows in the battery. I performed my usual battery test of playing a YouTube livestream at 720p at 50 percent brightness until the laptop died. The Spectre x360 lasted 10 hours straight, making it one of the longest-running laptops I have ever tested.

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Cesar Cadenas/ZDNET

Finally, let's talk about the design because I like what HP did with the laptop, although I can tell some people will have issues with it. The Spectre x360 has an interesting blocky aesthetic. Each of the keys is a near-perfect square, plus two of the corners are flat; not round. The corners house two of the Spectre's four ports: a USB-C input on the right and a headphone jack on the left. The other two are another USB-C input and a USB-A port for flash drives. Yes, that's all you get.

Also: You can now buy this AR laptop with 100-inch display - no monitor needed

HP's solution to this is packaging two docking stations with the Spectre, allowing users to expand their array of ports. With the docks, you can add extra USB inputs as well as an HDMI port. The good news is the charger still works through the docking station. Don't worry about feeling like you'll be forced to choose between connectivity or keeping the laptop. You can have both.

ZDNET's buying advice

It's early in the year, and already HP's 2024 Spectre x360 is in the running for one of my favorite laptops of the year. It checks off so many boxes for me: great display, bassy speakers, solid performance, and even the keyboard is great. The larger size compared to the previous model allows for bigger keycaps. The caps combined with the laptop's durable construction results in a comfortable typing experience.

Prices for the 2024 Spectre x360 start at $1,449.99 with multiple configurations available. The unit I reviewed was one of the higher-end models sporting the Intel Core i7 processor mentioned earlier and 2TB of storage. It costs $1,878.99.

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