Milled aluminum. All-day battery life. Intel Core i5 and i7 processors. A bitchin' keyboard, and a large, clickable trackpad with excellent multitouch response. If you didn't know any better, you'd think I was describing a MacBook Air. I'm not—I'm talking HP's Spectre x360, a gorgeous premium convertible PC that starts at just $900.
Normally, I don't care for convertible laptops. To me, they've always looked like toys with their thick, ugly hinges and unnecessarily bulky frames. But HP's new 13-inch Spectre looks like a high-end, professional machine. Its low-profile hinges are understated. When it bends over backwards into tablet mode, it's no thicker than when the lid is closed. Somehow, HP has made a 2-in-1 laptop I care about. That's pretty weird, and pretty cool.
HP's officially announcing this machine today, but I got an early look last week. It reminds me of the Dell XPS 13—not because of form or features, but because it's the type of ultraportable Windows machine that threatens to make my work-issue MacBook Air an ultra thin dust-collector. The keyboard is tactile and springy. It has an luxuriously wide, highly responsive touchpad. I've only used it for a few hours, but at first blush, it's an absolute joy.
Sadly, its faults remind me of the Dell XPS 13 too—my overnight battery test (a web-browsing simulation run at 70 percent screen brightness) only lasted for half of HP's promised 12-hour runtime. HP's test results were far more forgiving: with the screen set to a moderately dim 150-nits, they claim Spectre can manage 11 hours of Xbox Video, 10 hours of web browsing, and 9 hours of binge-watching Netflix.
HP VP of Product Management Mike Nash attributes the laptop's advertised longevity to two things: a big 56Wh battery and meticulous optimization. Nash says HP gave Microsoft unprecedented access to the product throughout its development: Microsoft helped test and benchmark the prototypes, assisted in rewriting drivers and optimizing sensors. The two teams even debated the power draw of including a simple LED to indicate hard-drive activity. Ultimately, the blinking light was cut.
We'll let you know how the laptop stands up to a Gizmodo workload in a full review later this month. Maybe our practical working test will eke out more battery life. Maybe it won't. Either way, I'll still be smitten with the machine's extra-wide trackpad.
Want more right now? You can check out the machine on HP's official website—it goes on sale today, starting at $900 for a Core i5 processor, 4GB of RAM, 128GB of solid state storage, and a 1080p touchscreen display. If you want the QHD screen, you can get that alongside a Core i7, 8GB of RAM and 512GB SSD for $1400.