Looking for a powerful slim laptop with the right mix of portability, sleek design, battery life, and performance? Two of the best all-around options that fit this bill are the M1 MacBook Air
and the new 13.3-inch HP Spectre x360
. Both machines offer a great experience, though there are plenty of differences, including some significant ones, that you should be aware of.
Trying to decide between the M1 MacBook Air and the HP Spectre x360? This comparison review should help you decide.
OS and Ecosystem
First up is the biggest point of distinction between these machines: OS and ecosystem.
Choosing the M1 MacBook Air means choosing Apple’s macOS and the resulting deep integrations with the rest of Apple’s ecosystem. If you’re already a dedicated iPhone user, with lots of data tied to your Apple ID and all your information backed up in iCloud, it’s an obvious decision. Barring some deal-breaker elsewhere in the hardware, you’re going to have a better experience with the MacBook Air.
The HP Spectre x360, on the other hand, ships with Windows 10 or Windows 11, a completely different experience that will be more familiar to more people. If you’re looking for a PC experience or you don’t want the ecosystem tie-ins that come with Apple devices, you’re very likely to prefer the HP experience.
All this may be obvious to some readers, but the sheer difference between the operating systems and ecosystems is very important. Furthermore, it’s certainly worth some thought if you’re considering these two devices as equivalent competitors.
Display and Form Factor
The MacBook Air retains the same form factor as the last few updates, which isn’t all a bad thing. The machined aluminum body is solid and iconic, and the tapered slim profile holds up well. The LCD retina display is a great better-than-HD screen with gorgeous response.
That said, those bezels are looking pretty chunky by 2021 standards (even for Apple, as the recently updated MacBook Pro testifies). And Apple remains committed to the classic laptop form factor: no convertible touchscreen here.
The HP Spectre x360 is certainly more innovative. It’s a convertible laptop with a touchscreen, which will appeal to a segment of the market. If touch controls matter to you, then the Spectre is the way to go. No MacBook at any price point offers this function.
The bezels on the Spectre are much thinner as well, though the default display caps out at full HD. You can upgrade to 4K or 4K OLED, but it’ll cost you.
The HP Spectre also employs numerous unusual diagonal angles. Whether these add anything aesthetically is a matter of taste, and how well they’ll hold up over time is an open question. Still, if you’re looking for something different than the endless sea of slab-like laptops, this is it.
HP’s 2021 rendition of the Spectre x360 features 11th-gen Intel Core i5 and i7 processors, which is as current as it gets for this category of PC laptop. No particular complaints in this regard. The base configuration includes just 8GB of RAM and a 256 GB SSD, which are both worth upgrading if you have the cash.
As thin convertible PC laptops go, performance is solid.
Apple’s M1-powered MacBook Air, on the other hand, is in a class all its own. In 2020, Apple began the transition to its own in-house processors. The M1 is the first iteration, and it’s hard to express just how impressive the chip is. 9to5Mac
says the chip has “changed the computer industry.” Intel execs are in damage control mode
In terms of raw performance power, the HP Spectre x360 doesn’t compete with the M1 MacBook Air. How much this affects your day-to-day, though, depends on what you’re using your laptop for.
Keyboard and Trackpad
Apple has the advantage in both keyboard and trackpad. The keyboard is responsive and consistent, and the trackpad is large, smooth, and powerful, thanks to Mac-specific gesture controls.
HP’s keyboard stretches the entire width of the laptop, which is a bit unusual but a welcome development. With the extra space, HP added back physical home, end, page up, and page down keys, which were missing in a previous model.
Still, the awkward arrow key placement and smallish, sunken trackpad are a bit disappointing.
The HP Spectre x360 includes an HP-branded carrying sleeve, and models purchased directly from HP come with a free stylus pen.
Apple includes neither of these — not that you could use the stylus pen anyway. You do get those classic Apple stickers, if those qualify as an accessory.
Upsie Protects Either Laptop
The choice between a MacBook Air and an HP Spectre x360 comes down to your individual preferences and how you want to use your device. But whichever you choose, Upsie is there to protect it with an extended laptop warranty
With Upsie, you get extended coverage, and coverage for accidental damage. All of this costs less than you’d pay at the big box store or for AppleCare+.
Ready to get covered? Check out Upsie’s laptop plans now.
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