Milled aluminium. 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 $1499 via HP Australia.
Normally, I don't care for convertible laptops. To me, they have 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 per cent 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 optimising 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 $US900 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 $US1400.