Fantastic phantasm – the HP Spectre x360 wins the prize

November 25, 2022


The HP Spectre x360 EVO Notebook


This baby’s got cutting-edge tech, robust battery life, a beaut OLED display and loads of grunt writes PAT PILCHER.

It’s been a while since I got my sweaty paws on one of the HP Spectre notebooks (read about that here). They were gorgeous, but the march of progress is relentless. I was looking forward to unboxing the latest Spectre efforts when it turned up at Witchdoctor towers. I wasn’t disappointed.

Firstly, the 2022 HP Spectre is one of the first that is compatible with Intel’s EVO spec to land in the New Zealand market. This might not sound like a big deal, but trust me, it’s huge. (Click here to find out more about Intel’s Evo spec).

While the new, cutting-edge Evo technology commands a premium, you get plenty for your hard-earned cash. There’s a slinky new design (more on this later), improved performance, astonishing battery life and great usability.

The review unit supplied by HP came with a Core i7 1255U CPU, 16GB of RAM, a generous 512GB SSD, WUXGA+ video and a 13.5-inch 3K2K (3000 x 2000) OLED display. In short, this spec packs enough raw grunt for any tasks you’re likely to throw the Spectre’s way.

On the design front, the Spectre has a combination of soft curves, angled edges, and notches in its rear corners. Its metallic silver alloy finish (or, in HP marketing parlance, Natural Silver) shows off its rounded, slim edges. Cleverly, HP has used the corner notches to house a 3.5mm audio jack and USB-C port, which handily helps minimise cable clutter.

Its soft curved edges are a clever touch. They make the Spectre comfy when its screen is folded back for use in tablet mode. The Spectre’s machined aluminium chassis looked great. It also had the added bonus of being rock solid, with no bending, flexing or plasticky creaking.

While the Spectre is technically a 13.3-inch beastie in use, it feels more like a 14-inch notebook. This is largely due to its 90 percent screen-to-body ratio and tiny screen bezels. It might feel like a 14-inch machine, but the real beauty is that as part of being EVO spec compatible it is just 17mm thick and weighs in at just 1.3kg. Throwing the Spectre in a laptop bag and taking it out and about is no hardship. Best of all, it won’t see you making chiropractor appointments afterwards.

On the connectivity front, the Spectre is also well-appointed. You get two USB-C ports (with Thunderbolt 4 support), one USB-A port, a microSD reader, and a 3.5mm audio socket. Considering its compact design, that’s a shedload of wired connections. It doesn’t stop there. Intel’s Evo spec also means compatibility with the latest Wi-Fi standard (Wi-Fi 6E) and Bluetooth 5.2.

Under its hood is an energy-efficient Intel 15-watt 10-core (two high-performance cores and eight slower but more energy-efficient cores), 12-thread Core i7-1255U. Sporting a Turbo Boost of 4.7GHz, it delivers a significant performance improvement over the earlier 11th-gen Core i7-1165G7 in last year’s Spectre.

Giving the Spectre a workout with a combination of demanding games and apps, firing up the HP Command Centre widget and setting it to performance mode made a big performance difference. Switching to Balanced Mode helped with battery life, but more on that later. Even though I was stress-testing the Spectre, I was pleased to note that it passed the ball-scorch test with flying colours by not running super-hot on my lap. Its cooling fans never ran loudly, either. This is particularly impressive given its super thin design.

As you’d expect, the Spectre’s OLED panel was super bright (at 381 Nits) and vivid. Its resolution of 3000 x 2000 is helped along by the super dark bright contrast. I particularly liked that the Spectre’s display has a 3:2 aspect ratio. It’s a lot like A4 paper in Landscape. This makes it great for crafting documents and makes tablet mode feel more useful.

As a super compact notebook, its downward-firing speakers provide solid audio. Still, as you’d expect, there isn’t much space in the chassis, and you don’t get bone-rattling bass. That said, the 3.5-inch audio socket and Bluetooth 5.2 means you can easily hook up external speakers or use a good pair of headphones/earbuds.

Typing on the Spectre is a pleasure. Good spacing between keys and decent-sized keycaps makes for quick and accurate typing. Even though the keys are a scrabble-tile design, their micro switches provide positive tactile feedback. The addition of a fingerprint scanner instead of the Ctrl key allows for password-free biometric logins via Windows Hello. This is something I could easily get used to. Mousing is handled via a large trackpad that has a smooth surface. In use, the trackpad was both accurate and responsive.

The webcam has a 5MP sensor and delivers crisp video that is more than ample for use with Zoom/Teams. HP also baked in Auto Framing, which keeps you in the shot, even if you’re moving around during a video call. Intelligent Backlighting also means good lighting regardless of the ambient environment. An Appearance Filter removes that annoying zit on your nose, so it isn’t visible to other video call participants. [But what if it’s a cherished beauty spot? – Cynical Ed]. HP also added directional beamforming mics plus bi-directional AI noise reduction. This translates into clean in-call audio.

The Spectre packs a 66-watt-hour battery. It seemed to last forever. As part of the EVO spec, HP has tweaked the Spectre’s design allowing it to run incredibly efficiently in balanced mode. I got a full day of use and well into the evening before I got low battery warnings. This translated into just shy of a whopping 10 hours, which is super impressive given its muscular spec. Running a looped video test, it ran for 10 hours and 53 minutes before finally giving up the ghost. If battery life is a key consideration, the Spectre is probably the laptop you should be looking for.

Once you’ve used the HP Spectre, going back to an ordinary, non-Evo notebook feels like a definite step down. Solid battery life and performance, a gorgeous 3:2 OLED screen and an eye-catching design make me want to score the Spectre an 11 out of 10.


Pat has been talking about tech on TV, radio and print for over 20 years, having served time as a TV tech guy and currently penning reviews for Witchdoctor. He loves nothing more than rolling his sleeves up and playing with shiny gadgets.

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