April 19, 2024

HP’s Fantastic Specter and Envy laptops just got a new lease of life

Numerous laptops have been announced recently, including a slew of Acer notebooks, HP gaming systems, a premium Lenovo Chromebook, and an Asus with a hidden message in invisible ink. However, I won’t let my cramping fingers stop me from raving about the successors of some of the best Windows PCs of recent years. Frankly, I’m exhausted.

No, I’m not talking about the Dell XPS 13 (excellent though it is). New versions of the Envy and Specter, HP’s flagship mid-range and premium ultra-thin laptops, were announced today. I won’t waste your time: these are upgrades, not redesigns, of the previous models. However, they bring a few goodies that appeal to those looking for a portable laptop.

HP Specter and Envy release date and prices

The Specter x360 13.5 and Specter x360 16 are on sale today on HP.com, starting at $1,249 ($1,734) and $1,649 ($2,289), respectively. They will also be available at Best Buy. Here are some quick numbers and dates.

The more affordable Envy x360 models are also available on HP’s website. The Envy x360 13.3-inch starts at $US899 ($1,248), while the 15.6-inch convertible costs $US849 ($1,179) for the AMD model and $US899 ($1,248) for the Intel -version. The Envy 16 and 17.3 clamshells cost $1,399 ($1,942) and $1,099 ($1,526), respectively.

HP Specter x360 13.5 and 16

I checked. That’s not a typo. HP calls this latest model the Specter x360 13.5, despite the previous Specter x360 14 having the same screen size. Perhaps market research has shown that customers want the portability of a 13-inch device but with a bigger screen (because 14 sounds so much bigger than 13). Anyway, the name bothers me.

Envy laptops

HP Specter x360 13.5 (Image: HP)

If you can get past that, the Specter x360 13.5 and 16 will become fine laptops, retaining the best elements of the previous versions while updating certain components. If you haven’t seen the latest Specter laptops (my Specter x360 16 OLED review is a good introduction), their aluminum chassis is gorgeous. While this new version ditches the gem-cut edges for a rounded design, it has the same chrome trim, large touchpad, and aggressive corner angles, giving it a luxurious look.

You also get a pleasing arrangement of ports as these are fairly portable systems, especially the 1kg, 0.67-inch Specter x360 13.5 (the x360 16 weighs 2kg). Even on the 13.5 are two Thunderbolt 4 Type-C ports, a USB Type-A, a microSD card reader, and a headphone jack. The 16-inch model throws in an HDMI 2.1 for good measure.

HP Specter x360 16 (Photo: HP)

The major updates are inside, where the Specter is powered by Intel 12th-generation processors – either a Core i7-1255U or Core i5-1235U. The larger 16-inch model gets a Core i5-1260P or a full-fledged H-series Core i7-12700H. Graphics is another area where the x360 16 has an edge. Or, at least, with the option for Intel Arc A370M graphics. Intel’s first discrete graphics cards have been delayed, but the chipmaker claims they will deliver 2x performance over the integrated Iris Xe when they arrive. Both laptops support up to 32 GB DDR4x RAM and 2 TB PCIe Gen4 NVMe SSD.

HP says the 16-inch Specter will last about 12 and 30 minutes while streaming content over Wi-Fi or 19 hours of pure video playback. The smaller model gets up to 15 hours of wireless streaming.

HP Specter x360 16 (Image: HP)

If there’s one feature HP seemed particularly proud of, it’s the webcam. And they deserve to feel that way because, as the previous Specter x360 16 showed, the 5MP IR webcam is fantastic. It’s arguably the best on any laptop, and now it’s coming to the Specter x360 13.5, along with transient noise cancellation and a camera shutter. It even has software features for Auto Frame, Dynamic Voice Leveling, and Backlight Adjustment.

Brightness. The other great thing is the display options. There are three different screen options for the Specter x360 13.5: 13.5-inch, 1920 x 1280 IPS with HP Sure View (a privacy filter), an additional 1920 x 1280 without the privacy options, and a 3K2K OLED touchscreen that supports up to 500 gets nothing. The 16-inch boosts the resolution of its base panels to 3072 x 1920 (3K+) in glossy or anti-reflective options and has its own 4K OLED panel.

HP Envy and Envy x360

Four new Envy models were announced today, including 13.3-inch and 15.6-inch convertibles and 16-inch and 17.3-inch clamshell versions. While it’s a step below the Specters, HP has done a great job of trickling down flagship features to these cheaper midrange alternatives.

HP Envy 17.3 (Image: HP)

The Envy x360 13.3 weighs only 1 kg and can be equipped with up to an Intel Core i7-1250U; the Core i5-1230U may be the better choice. The memory is limited to 16 GB, which should be fine for most people, and the storage goes up to 1 TB. The larger models get beefier CPUs, and the 15-inch makes you choose between Intel Core or AMD Ryzen 5000 (not the latest 6000 chips). The memory is limited to 16 GB, and the storage goes up to 1 TB.

HP Envy x360 13.3 (Image: HP)

HP didn’t skimp on the display, with a 13.3-inch, 2.8K OLED touchscreen on the top and a 1920 x 1200 IPS display for the base model. The 15.6-inch version will have a 1080P OLED display, while the 16-inch will have a 4K OLED option. The Envy 17 (sorry, Envy 17.3) drops the OLED for a 4K IPS display.

The Envy series gets HP’s 5MP IR webcam and all the associated software features without burying you in specs. They also come with USB-C, USB-A ports, and an SD card reader (micro for the smallest model).

Louise J. Robertson

I've been blogging for over ten years now and have found that writing is one of the best ways to express my thoughts and feelings on various topics. I am a passionate blogger who writes about topics like health and wellness, personal finance, cooking, tech, beauty and fashion, food and cooking, and other lifestyle topics. I love blogging because it's so easy and flexible; I can write anytime and anywhere I want!

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