HP managed to fit in an IR camera for Windows Hello face authentication. That's something we missed on the XPS 13 2-in-1, which only featured a fingerprint sensor. The Spectre's super small camera is terribly grainy and blurry, unfortunately, but that's the price you pay for squeezing it into a tiny screen bezel. The x360 also has a fingerprint sensor, if you don't quite trust Windows face-mapping biometrics yet.
Thanks to its smaller frame, the x360 now features a wide edge-to-edge keyboard. Its large keycaps are luxurious, and I really appreciated the deep key travel, which feels reminiscent of Microsoft's Surface. This is one area where, for many people, HP has an advantage over Dell. While I got used to the XPS 13 2-in-1's fairly flat Mag-Lev keyboard, I've talked to plenty of folks who found it only slightly better than Apple's uncomfortable butterfly keys. The Spectre x360's delivers the sort of typing experience PC enthusiasts crave. It's not as good as the legendary ThinkPad keyboard, but it's close.
Its trackpad also feels very smooth and accurate, though I wish it was larger like Apple and Dell's latest premium devices. Thankfully, HP dumped the terrible Synaptics touchpad drivers from its last batch of machines and added a Precision driver this time around. That gives the touchpad a much more modern feel with support for more gestures. Frankly, it's something the company needed to do for years.
HP also includes a stylus with the x360, and while it's no Surface Pen, it's useful for anyone who wants to doodle a bit. There's also a sleek leather in the box to protect it from the elements. I find it a bit unnecessary, but it fits with the premium aesthetic the company is going for. At the very least, it'll prevent the x360 from getting the nicks and scratches that can quickly make a new laptop seem weathered.
As far as performance goes, the Spectre x360 delivers most of what we've seen from other laptops with Intel's 10th gen CPUs. It's plenty fast for daily tasks, even when I'm juggling dozens of tabs, Slack and other apps. And Intel's Iris Plus graphics give it enough power to play a few games, like Overwatch, although I had to lower the resolution to 720p to get anywhere near 60FPS. That might not sound impressive, but it's a huge step forward from the weak integrated graphics Intel used to rely on. It's enough power for the x360 to play simpler and slower paced games well too, like Minecraft and Disco Elysium.
Aside from the aforementioned hinges, there's not much about the x360 that screams "convertible" at first. It works well in the standard laptop mode -- where you'll be spending most of your time -- but the ability to twist the screen around is useful if you just want to watch Netflix in bed all day. And as with more convertible machines, it's comically large to use as a tablet, but I still found that mode useful for focused reading. If you don't have a standard tablet around, the x360 is also a great screen for devouring digital comics.
The laptop did get a bit warm to the touch when I was playing games or doing anything demanding, and its fans are noticeable once they kick up. HP says it reworked its cooling design from last year, so it should at least be quieter than the last x360, which sometimes sounded a bit like an overeager jet engine. When you're not gaming, you can also expect to see some solid battery life. During our benchmark, which involves looping an HD video, it lasted for a healthy 14.5 hours, almost exactly the same as the XPS 13 convertible.
There's one issue that mars the otherwise premium Spectre x360 experience: bloatware. HP crammed in apps from Dropbox and ExpressVPN, along with its own redundant apps for things like switching audio devices. It caused me to have a flashback to the dark days of Windows XP laptops, and it's not the sort of thing you'd expect from a pricey 2019 machine. McAfee Personal Security is also pre-installed, but at least that comes with a trial subscription (and it's actually helpful for most users).