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HP’s new Spectre x360 13 has the display of the future, on the laptop of yesterday

The time has come. Computer users, driven to envy by the newest OLED televisions, are ready for the same tech to make its appearance in laptops and desktop monitors. Enter the HP Spectre x360 13, a convertible laptop that HP claims is the first of its kind with the new tech.

So what’s the big deal? It really has to be seen to be believed. Blacks have a true, deep inkiness to them. Colors are vivid and saturated. Contrast is humongous compared to traditional screens. In short, OLED panels are superior to LCDs in almost every way, and they’re finally cheap enough to put in laptops.

But there are still a lot of unanswered questions about the Spectre x360, and they’re the kind of questions that claims from HP won’t answer. Is the Spectre x360 the next big thing in computing, or another stepping stone on the way to OLED glory?

Some things never change

HP’s design for the new Spectre is uninspired, to say the least. There are no major design changes from the previous iteration, except for the addition of a new color combination. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. The design of the current version is elegant and luxurious, and the new color, ash silver and gold, reinforces that notion.

But the star of the show is still the 13.3-inch OLED panel. It sports a detailed 2,560 x 1,440 display, lending it a serious 221 DPI rating. That’s apart from the new tech, which is bound to boast an astronomical contrast ratio and sharp color accuracy. That steep contrast means images and videos are more lifelike, and faces are more detailed and expressive, especially in dark areas. Even UI elements, like the Start bar in Windows looks better, with a black level that matches the bezel’s seamlessly. After spending a few minutes with an OLED, other screens look like they have tissue paper over them.

Unanswered questions

It’s not exactly clear what lives under the hood of the OLED Spectre x360. HP says it’s powered by a Sixth Generation Intel Core i5 or i7 processor, with no word on memory, although the current model sports choice of 4GB or 8GB. It’s also available with up to 1TB of storage, but all of the other details remain a mystery.

There’s also the issue of battery performance. Screens are already one of the biggest battery drains on a machine, and the OLED technology complicates things further. Power draw varies greatly depending on use, demanding very little to no power when displaying blacks, and needing much more than a traditional screen to display whites.

The first step

The problem with the HP Spectre is that it’s still very much a vague product. Slamming the OLED screen into an existing, successful model is one strategy, but to support the technology with dedicated graphics and high-end hardware would be even better. Instead, it feels like HP is trying to wring a bit more marketability out of an already popular system, with no word on release date or price.

Still, the screen is amazing. That alone is worth talking about, as the technology is likely to make its way into other systems, and leave you looking at a friend’s laptop wondering why their display looks so much better than yours.

Highs

  • Incredible display

Lows

  • A design update would’ve been great
  • HP hasn’t clarified many details

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Brad Bourque
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Brad Bourque is a native Portlander, devout nerd, and craft beer enthusiast. He studied creative writing at Willamette…
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