HP’s new laptop, the Spectre x360 13, is out now and available for purchase, though you may need to wait for shipping. The sequel to last year’s Spectre 13 has released with a little-to-no splash in the laptop market. I guess this makes sense, considering new laptops continue saturating the already oversaturated laptop market.
However, I urge you to take a look at HP’s new Spectre 13, as some of the new upgrades may leave you impressed. But what’s new about it? What could possibly make the laptop so special–so unique–that it’s worth considering over the popular Surface Pro or MacBook Pro.
Allow me to show you why you may like the new Spectre with a quick overview of the major upgrades.
The CPU & GPU
Most new laptops tend to upgrade the CPU and GPU of their predecessors, but the new HP Spectre upgrades the Intel 8000 series processors to Intel’s 10k series processors.
Due to AMD’s increasing market share in the processor market, Intel’s 10k series offers moderate improvements to performance and power efficiency, making this upgrade more than an incremental improvement that can be overlooked.
And because of the CPU getting an upgrade, the integrated GPU does as well, with the old Intel UHD 620 being thrown out in preparation for the Intel Iris Plus–another sizable upgrade compared to the 620.
HP even claims that their new Spectre offers double the performance of last year’s model. If they speak the truth, it’s pretty impressive.
HP made some minor improvements to the outside of the screen, including trimming down the bezels and giving the new Spectre more screen area, but the 4K display received major improvements that make the almost $1,600 price point an easier pill to swallow.
First off, the 4K screen has moved on from LCD display technology to OLED (AMOLED) technology. If you don’t see the big deal in this transition, then allow me to tell you why OLED technology trumps any LCD screen.
See, LCD screens, while great, are unable to show “true” blacks. For example, nighttime scenes tend to suffer from the glow, and true pitch black can’t be obtained.
Due to how individual pixels can turn themselves off on an OLED screen, OLEDs can show true blacks, giving the display a more vibrant look.
The new Spectre not only adopts OLED technology–it adopts HDR. HDR allows a display to bring colors to life with a mix of saturation, brightness, and other settings.
HDR can be used on LCD screens, but the true potential of HDR can only be fully realized with an OLED screen, hence HP using one.
Let’s be honest: security doesn’t sell. While some of us pay attention to the security features of our products, most consumers don’t, so many tech companies don’t put as much love and attention towards security as they should.
However, HP has ignored the status quo and is adding a lot of much-needed security improvements to the Spectre.
Let’s start with the webcam, which now uses a kill-switch to turn on and off on the user’s whim. This may not seem important, but webcams have been a constant source of paranoia for many, and webcam covers only do so much to soothe said paranoia.
Allowing it to be turned off helps add security and, in my opinion, is a simple feature that should be on every laptop.
The microphone works in a similar fashion, though it can not be turned off, only muted. A nice addition nonetheless, if not a bit disappointing. I’m sure one day we’ll see a way to turn off the microphone that doesn’t require going into Windows settings.
The new Spectre offers a built-in privacy screen as well, though the screen will not be available until January of 2020, according to their press release. Why this is, no one knows, but if you think you’ll need a privacy screen for your laptop, you’ll need to wait until early next year.
However, perhaps the most surprising upgrade made is not much of an upgrade at all–more of an addition. In the press release, HP announced its partnership with ExpressVPN and LastPass, a VPN program and password manager respectively.
LastPass is mostly free, with a Premium option for extra features, and ExpressVPN runs off a monthly/yearly subscription. In light of their partnership with HP, however, users will receive a free 30-day trial to both services, as long as they redeem them.
The ExpressVPN partnership surprised me the most, as VPN companies don’t tend to partner with many tech companies. However, ExpressVPN announced that they actually plan on announcing more partnerships in the coming months–pretty impressive, if I do say so myself.
Overall, the security of the new Spectre remains the most improved area, in my honest opinion. The changes to the 4K display are nice, and I’m sure the new CPU & GPU upgrades will make for a smoother experience, but security comes first when talking about laptops.
I mean come on, you’ll be using the laptop in public areas where people can view your screen and intercept your data on the un-secure network; you want some security, no matter how little.
It’s not often that a laptop dramatically improves upon its predecessors, usually only offering minor upgrades. However, HP aims to make the new Spectre 13 refresh one beat, though owners of last year’s Spectre 13 may hesitate to pull the trigger on it.
If you’re at all interested in the new Spectre 13, it’s currently available on the website, though again, you may not receive the laptop until next month due to stock and shipping times.
And if you do decide to order the laptop, remember to take advantage of the partnerships HP built, giving you more security for zero cost. The new Spectre 13 is definitely worth checking, especially if you’ve been looking for a small, stylish and secure laptop you can take with you absolutely anywhere.
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