Gadgets

HP Spectre x360 13.5 (2022) initial review: A lovely step up

HP’s top-line Spectre laptops have been super choices for a good few years now, with high-quality designs, lovely displays and specs that can power work and a fair amount of play. That looks set to continue with the newly-launched 2022 model of the x360.

It’s a gorgeous little laptop that looks set to continue HP’s sterling work with some nice additional touches to build on the excellent 2021 model. We got some hands-on time at a preview event and have been impressed by what we saw.

The Spectre line has never been HP’s attempt at entry-level laptops, so it’s no surprise that the 2022 Spectre x360 lineup isn’t going to come too cheap, but that doesn’t mean it’s a bad deal. You’ll be getting an absolutely gorgeous laptop for your money, with a sleek and professional design that’s got some unique touches.

The keyboard’s great, the display is simply luscious (and its touch-screen options are fabulous too) while HP’s made some very welcome upgrades in the now all-important webcam department. If other laptop makers can match its camera-masking solution we’ll be living in an easier world, that’s for sure. For now, it looks likely to be another hit.
A 13.5-inch laptop can increasingly feel like the default size for most workers who need to be able to both sit and work on a machine for a few hours and slip it into a backpack or bag to take it on a commute or work trip at any point.

The new Spectre x360 feels like it’ll work nicely in both cases, weighing just a shade over 1.3kg and therefore being light enough to cart around without any effort at all.

The sleek looks of previous generations haven’t been tweaked too heavily, either, although some edges have been rounded off slightly – the main design changes comes in the form of a new deep blue colour, which has immediately taken its place as the most desirable option to our eyes.
Some other changes come on the keyboard, which has a slightly new layout thanks to the addition of a couple of new keys. The one that impressed us the most is also coming to a range of other HP laptops including the new Envy models – a camera blocker.

Just tap the key on your keyboard and you’ll be able to see the webcam above the display be obscured by a grille, and turned off on a software level – this is a great touch for workers who value privacy when they’re not on a call, which we’d imagine is most people.

There’s also a shortcut to a new dashboard-like hub that HP is hoping will make it easier for people to access things like power-saving modes and controls without needing to delve too deeply into Windows’ more complex settings menus.
Flipping the laptop round into its tablet orientation is as easy as before, with HP’s hinges among the best in the business, and the laptop’s light and slim enough to work really nicely in that mode whether it’s propped up or on your lap.

The changes aren’t huge, but the Spectre lineup was already in a good place, so we’d call this a case of something that wasn’t broken being left unfixed.

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Ajmal Solangi is a Tech writer specializing in the intersection of tech and reviews. He likes tech news, mobile unboxing, reviews, gadgets, and more.

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