The HP Spectre x360 improves on last year's model with a number of minor design tweaks and upgraded hardware.
Together, these changes help to catapult this classy-looking premium hybrid computer to the top of my list for the year.
The new Spectre is slimmer and lighter than last year's version. The bulge at the rear has been reduced, mainly because of a thinner 360-degree hinge.
This hinge lets the device switch between tablet and laptop modes. Unfortunately, like most hybrid computers, the x360 remains awkward to hold and use as a tablet because of its size.
As a laptop, the x360 is excellent. HP has kept up with the times by narrowing the touchscreen's bezel significantly. At the same time, the top bezel is not as skinny as the one on the Dell XPS 13, so there is space for the Web camera. This camera supports the Windows Hello feature that lets you log in to Windows 10 via facial recognition.
However, the screen resolution of the new Spectre is 1,920 x 1,080 pixels, down from the 2,560 x 1,440 pixels on the previous version.
Some may see this as a downgrade, but 1,920 x 1,080 pixels on a 13-inch screen is still sharp enough that most folks would probably be unable to make out the individual pixels. In fact, I welcome this change, as the lower pixel count probably helps to extend the battery life.
PROCESSOR: Intel Core i7-7500U (2.7GHz)
GRAPHICS: Intel HD Graphics 620
SCREEN SIZE: 13.3 inches, 1,920 x 1,080 pixels
CONNECTIVITY: 2 x USB 3.1 Type-C with Thunderbolt 3, 1 x USB 3.1, audio jack
BATTERY: 57.8 watt-hour
VALUE FOR MONEY: 3/5
BATTERY LIFE: 5/5
The silver keyboard has decent key travel. The touchpad is wider than usual, but it is smooth and offers surprisingly good tactile feedback. If you turn on the keyboard backlight in a well-lit room, the letterings on the keys can be difficult to make out because of the backlight bleeding through the transparent letterings. But this design works fine when it is dark.
The Spectre x360 has a nice mix of ports that reduces the amount of frustration (and dongles required) for users. It has a single full-size USB Type-A port, as well as two USB 3.1 Type-C ports that support Thunderbolt 3. You charge the laptop via the Type-C port.
However, you will need a dongle to output the computer's display to a monitor via the Spectre's Thunderbolt 3 ports. HP includes a Type-C to Gigabit LAN dongle, but not for HDMI or VGA.
Powering the Spectre is the latest seventh-gen Intel "Kaby Lake" processor. While this chip provides only a slight bump in general computing power, those who like to watch high-resolution videos will benefit from its dedicated multimedia decoding engines.
In addition, HP has increased the amount of RAM and storage on the top $2,699 model, to 16GB of RAM and a 1TB solid-state drive.
I was surprised that the Spectre lasted 9hr 15min in our video-loop battery test. Perhaps it is the new Intel chip, which is optimised for video playback, or the 57.8 watt- hour battery. In any case, the outstanding battery stamina makes the Spectre ideal for long trips.
•Verdict: The new Spectre x360 is an excellent sequel to last year's model.