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HP has just announced several new laptops, including the Spectre x360 14 convertible, which brings some notable improvements compared to its already-impressive 13-inch predecessor: a 3:2 aspect ratio display, a 16 percent larger touchpad, quad speakers, and a Thunderbolt 4 port located in one of its diamond-shaped corners so you can plug in your all-in-one cable for charging, data, external monitors and peripherals even if the back or sides of the machine are blocked.

The three-pound HP Spectre x360 14 is equipped with Intel’s latest 11th Gen “Tiger Lake” processors, specifically up to a quad-core 28W Intel Core i7-1165G7 with Intel’s Xe integrated graphics onboard; just one step below the chip that impressed us in a recent Tiger Lake test. HP says the new laptop should be up to 34 percent faster than last year’s Spectre x360 13 model.

An intriguing location for the Thunderbolt 4 port.
Image: HP

More impressively, it’s the first Spectre to include a 3:2 aspect ratio display with 20 percent more vertical real estate than the 16:9 screens we’ve had before — and you can pay for an OLED version of the 13.5-inch 3000 x 2000-pixel screen, too, though we’re not sure how much it costs. One of the biggest annoyances we had with its 13-inch predecessor was its 16:9 display, which my colleague Dan Seifert called “cramped” in his review.

HP also claims the new laptop is its “most intelligent PC ever,” and while we’d have to put that to the test, the smarts sound interesting. HP claims the Spectre can detect when it’s in a bag, and use Intel’s Dynamic Tuning to avoid the battery draining or overheating. The x360 14 also includes AI Noise Removal, which is supposed to eliminate background noise from communication apps like Microsoft Teams and Zoom, and there’s an Auto Color feature that can automatically switch the screen’s color space between DCI-P3, Adobe RGB, and sRGB to theoretically make sure you’re looking at the most accurate colors. The company’s claiming up to 17 hours of battery life, but as little as 10 on the i7/OLED model.

The Spectre x360 14 starts at $1,199 (though presumably not with an i7 and OLED screen), and we’re eager to see how it’ll perform against our current best laptop pick, the $999-and-up Dell XPS 13, particularly now that Dell just gave it a Tiger Lake, Xe graphics and Thunderbolt 4 refresh as well. Dell also has a 2-in-1 convertible touchscreen variant that we like, but it’s the 13-inch Spectre x360 that’s been our favorite 2-in-1.

HP’s 13-inch Spectre x360 is also sticking around, with the company announcing a refresh today that adds some of the same Intel 11th Gen CPUs and up to 16.5 hours of battery life — which would actually be lower than the company promised from last year’s model, though Intel’s been trying recently to encourage manufacturers to make more accurate claims (and we still have a long way to go). The updated Spectre x360 13 will start at $1,199 as well, though there’s also an 4K OLED option that’s sure to be far pricier and harder on the battery life (HP claims as little as 10 hours for this model), as well as a 5G variant of the Spectre x360 13 which is launching sometime early next year.

Both Spectres offer pen support, and it looks like some models of the Spectre 14 will come with one in the box.

HP’s cheaper Envy x360 13 is also getting an 11th Gen Intel CPU refresh today, and we’re eager to see how the Intel chips compare to the AMD ones that made it our pick for the best budget laptop you can buy. It’ll also have a fancy Sure View screen option like HP’s excellent but expensive HP Elite Dragonfly, where you can press a button to activate a privacy filter. HP also sells a traditional clamshell laptop called the HP Envy 13, which will also now be equipped with 11th Gen Intel processors. It’ll stick with the same 88 percent screen-to-body ratio as the last refresh, which is two percent less than its competitor the Asus ZenBook 14 UX425EA.

The Envy x360 13 will start at $949.99 in November, and the Envy 13 at $899.99 in October. Both Spectres should arrive in October, though the 5G version of the x360 13 isn’t coming until early 2021. They’ll all offer Wi-Fi 6 support.

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