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HP reveals new Spectre x360 convertible with classy design, quality keyboard

Hewlett-Packard’s relationship with expensive, high-end notebooks is an on-again, off-again affair. At times HP seems devoted to design, while at others it seems more concerned with price. But quality is again taking charge at the company — if the new Spectre x360 is any indication.

At a glance, the new model doesn’t appear that interesting. It’s a convertible notebook with a 13.3-inch display and a 360-degree hinge that enables tablet use. In other words, it’s like a Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga.

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Details matter, though, and the details of this new HP look promising. Take the hinge, for example. While it operates much like its predecessors, the company has refined the design to ensure it closes as closely as possible when flipped into tablet mode. The company pointed out that most competitors, if measured, are actually thicker when used as a tablet because the hinge doesn’t let the display fold entirely flat. HP’s design will rectify that.

hpspectrex360

Hewlett-Packard

That should make the device feel more solid as a tablet, but notebook use is the x360’s real focus. The keyboard, for example, has been carefully tailored to provide the best experience. HP has designed the key caps with a “dish” design that introduces a subtle curve in the key surface and provides more tactile feedback to touch-typist. Key travel has been carefully considered as well, to make sure users can tell by touch when a key is fully activated.

Users will also enjoy an ultra-wide “ControlZone” touchpad. We’ve seen this in previous HP laptops, such as the HP Spectre 13t, and loved every second of it. Increasing the touchpad’s girth does more than just provide extra space. It also adds specific touch-sensitive zones that add a tactile element to the new touch gestures in Windows 8.1.

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The specifications sheet includes Intel Core i5 and i7 processors, a solid state hard drive with up to 512GB of storage, up to eight gigabytes of RAM, and a selection of 1080p and 1440p displays. While HP has opted not to use power-sipping Core M processors, the company says battery life will hold up. The company quoted up to 10 hours of Netflix viewing and 11 hours of web browsing with the screen calibrated to a modest 150 nits of brightness. In absolute optimal conditions up to 12.5 hours can be obtained, though that won’t be typical.

As you might expect, the system is thin, measuring 15.9 millimeters and weighing only 3.3 pounds. It is a bit heavier than the thinnest notebooks in the segment, but about equal to Dell’s XPS 13, and that notebook doesn’t convert into a tablet. HP says the system could’ve been lighter, but the company opted for a larger (and heavier) battery for strong endurance.

Pricing for the new x360 will start at $899. That buys a Core i5 processor, a 128GB solid state drive, four gigabytes of RAM, and a 1080p display. Other launch configurations up the processor, solid state drive and RAM, but the 1440p display will not be available for at least several weeks, and a standard model with it won’t arrive until April.

You can find the HP Spectre x360 at HP’s online store immediately or, if you want to buy it the old fashioned way, you can wait until it arrives at Best Buy on March 15.