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HP spectre x360 14 2021 review: A premium convertible laptop with impressive performance

The latest two-in-one from the brand has us wondering: do we really need a tablet?

Steve Hogarty
Tuesday 21 September 2021 12:15 BST
It looks like something a Bond villain would use to blow up the moon
It looks like something a Bond villain would use to blow up the moon (iStock/The Independent)

The HP spectre x360 is a powerful and slimline two-in-one laptop. Unlike many other convertibles of its kind – which tend to offer tablet-grade performance dressed up in a laptop form-factor – this folding flagship from HP is designed to be just as fast, functional and practical as your typical, non-folding laptop.

This year’s version of the 14in HP spectre x360 presents a generational upgrade to the laptop’s underlying specs, bringing the very latest Intel processors to bear on what was already a fantastic and versatile device, especially for business users in search of a professional-looking machine to carry around with them.

That means the same elegant chassis and impressive near edge-to-edge display on the outside, and a big boost to performance on the inside. The HP spectre x360 is an all-round excellent machine, with a full-size keyboard that’s a joy to work on, booming sound from Bang & Olufsen, an included stylus and seamless security features.

How we tested

We put the HP spectre x360 through its paces over the course of several full working days of tasks, including writing articles in Microsoft Office and Google Docs, wrangling large files, editing images and video in Adobe Creative Suite and juggling dozens of open Chrome tabs.

We also regularly used it in its tablet mode, watching shows on Netflix and videos on YouTube and browsing social media on the sofa. Here’s what we found.

Read more:

HP spectre x360 14, 2021: £1,099,

At full brightness, the OLED screen is impressive (Steve Hogarty/ The Independent)

This is the specification of the HP spectre x360 14-ea0008na sent to IndyBest by HP for review other models will differ in terms of RAM, processor speed and display resolution

  • CPU: Intel Core i7 1165G7
  • Graphics: Intel Iris Xe graphics
  • RAM: 16GB DDR4
  • Screen: 13.5in, 3,000 x 2,000px
  • Storage: 512GB SSD
  • Pros: Vivid OLED display, great battery life
  • Cons: Expensive

The HP spectre x360 is a refreshing laptop to behold. Unlike 95 per cent of Windows laptops, it doesn’t attempt to resemble yet another Apple MacBook. And unlike the remaining 5 per cent of Windows laptops, it doesn’t look like it was designed in 1994 by an accountant armed with only a slide rule.

Instead, what you get is a powerful and well-designed Windows machine with a vibrant screen and an enormous battery life. But that’s not all – oh no – the HP spectre x360 is a two-in-one convertible. The laptop’s big party trick is unfolding a full 360 degrees, turning inside-out to prop itself up tent-style for presentations or become a portable tablet for web browsing on the couch.


The 2021 version of the HP spectre x360 leaves the laptop’s stylish exterior largely untouched, but refreshes almost every interior component to bring it in line with some of the best mid-range laptops you can buy today. The configuration we tested was powered by Intel’s latest 11th generation Core i7 processor, which not only delivers impressive everyday performance, but best-in-class power efficiency too. The dialled down Core i5 model offers less speed, but even better battery life.

As a tablet the HP spectre x360 feels chunky, with this giant gap between the base and the screen (Steve Hogarty/The Independent)

That updated CPU means that the HP spectre x360 now meets the criteria for the Intel Evo badge: a certification awarded to laptops built to a certain quality standard (and that use Intel’s own high-performance i5 and i7 chips, of course). To secure an Intel Evo badge, a laptop must have a battery life lasting at least nine hours, recharge to four hours battery life in half an hour, and be able to boot up and be ready to use within one second of pressing the power button.

Accolades aside, the performance of the new HP spectre x360 can be appreciated from the moment you start using it. While it’s less suitable for routinely taking on processor-intensive tasks such as video editing and manipulating large documents, there’s enough power here to breeze through most everyday jobs you could ask of it, from juggling dozens of browser tabs, to multitasking between Zoom calls and Microsoft Office to light gaming, so long as you’re happy to dial some graphics settings down.

Battery life

Because the HP spectre x360 is built to work hand-in-glove with Intel’s shiniest new chips, it can take full advantage of the processors’ power-saving features to reduce battery draw and extend the laptop’s lifespan.

In our tests, after a full workday the laptop has enough juice left in it to comfortably squeeze in a couple of episodes of Married at First Sight on the commute home. It’s a small difference, but it means that accidentally leaving your charging cable at the office or forgetting to plug in overnight isn’t a death sentence for the HP spectre x360.

At 1.3kg, the HP spectre x360 is light, but sturdy enough to throw in a rucksack (Steve Hogarty/The Independent)


The HP spectre x360 is a beautiful piece of engineering, and appears to have been chiselled out of a single block of brushed aluminium. It stands out in a sea of identikit laptops: from the abstract and rotationally symmetrical HP logo adorning the back of the case to the subtle, chamfered trim encircling the base and screen. The hinges are industrial-thick and sturdy, while not dominating the face of the laptop. When folded into its tablet guise, it’s way chunkier than any iPad, but it feels durable where other two-in-ones can feel rickety.

Read more: Dell XPS 15 review – Dell’s premium Windows laptop gives the MacBook pro a run for its money

The bevelled corners are unlike any others we’ve seen on a laptop: clipped off to form these starkly angular, diamond-shaped edges that appear both futuristic and retro at the same time. There’s a Blade Runner-esque quality to the design of the spectre x360. Maybe it’s just the laptop’s name, but it looks like something a Bond villain would use to blow up the moon. It’s fantastic.


The HP spectre x360 has a single USB-A port, ensuring connectivity with almost every existing peripheral and memory stick you might want to plug into it. On the opposite side of the laptop are two Thunderbolt USB-C ports for charging and high-speed video output to an external display. That presents decent connectivity for a laptop this thin.

The webcam is fitted with an infrared sensor, which means it can be used to unlock the device using just your face. We also appreciated that the camera can be powered off with a single button press, which activates a camera shutter, shuts down your microphone and greatly reduces the chances of your most recent Zoom meeting going viral.

Tent mode is great for impromptu presentations, and watching snake videos (Steve Hogarty / The Independent)


We’re testing the OLED version of the HP spectre x360, which features a lusciously bright and vibrant display that looks considerably better than your standard laptop screen, but knocks roughly five hours off the battery life. Thing is, at around 14-15 hours as standard, this laptop has heaps of battery life to begin with – an OLED screen takes the longevity of the HP spectre x360 from exceptional to average for a modern Windows laptop. If you’re not particularly concerned with wandering far from a power socket, and you have the budget for it, we would recommend the upgrade.

In its OLED configuration, at a pin-sharp 3,000 x 2,000 resolution, near enough to 4K as makes no difference. The 3:2 ratio display is taller than a standard widescreen display, a seemingly small change that makes a world of difference when using Google Docs and browsing the web. More headroom on the screen means more content can be viewed without constantly scrolling up and down. The downside is that TV shows and movies will look boxed in by black borders on the top and bottom of the display, but increasingly, laptops are moving towards this taller display format for the immediate benefits it brings to comfort and productivity.

The verdict: HP spectre x360, 2021

A fantastic convertible laptop, the HP spectre x360 impresses with its upmarket design, cutting-edge performance, class-leading power efficiency and overall versatility in transforming into a practical tablet with a single twist.

The two-in-one design and smart stylus make the HP spectre x360 an ideal companion for business users, especially anyone who regularly presents to clients while out and about. But if you don’t need a laptop that can be turned inside out on a whim, we’d consider the cheaper, but just as powerful Dell XPS 13 (£1, 499, as an alternative.

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