Friday, October 25, 2019

ExpressVPN and HP Partners Up in Hardware Launch

ExpressVPN


Introduction


It’s not every day that I write an article about a laptop. Why would I? Many laptops release on an annual timer, and a year doesn’t exactly give much time for major improvements to be made.


However, HP’s new Spectre x360 13 promises a lot of improvements–none of them innovative, but major enough for me to dedicate an article to. There are many improvements that have been made, but I want to focus on one area of the improvements in particular: the security upgrades.


Miscellaneous Upgrades


Before I go into detail about the numerous security upgrades HP has made on the new Spectre 13, I want to give a brief overview of the other upgrades. However, I will not be going into great detail on them, so if you want to read more about these upgrades, feel free to check out the press release HP published for the new Spectre.


Without further ado, here’s a quick list of improvements has made with the new Spectre 13:


  • The CPU has been upgraded to Intel’s new 10k series processors,

  • The GPU has also been upgraded from the Intel UHD 620 to the Intel Iris Plus,

  • The 4K display is now OLED instead of LCD; Also incorporates True Black HDR,

  • The bezels have been trimmed significantly, allowing a 90% screen-to-body ratio,

  • The overall size has been reduced by 13% over the previous Spectre,

  • The battery has been upgraded for a whopping 22-hours of battery life,

  • A new, optional Ethernet LTE card that promises 122% faster speeds than the standard,

  • And more.

As you can see, HP has made tons of changes to the Spectre, and be sure to check out the press release I linked to earlier for a more in-depth look.


Now, onto the meat of this article: the security upgrades.


New Security Features


Not many laptop manufacturers focus on security, and it’s not hard to see why. Aesthetics sell. Performance sells. Security? It doesn’t sell, at least not to most consumers. However, HP upgraded all three, and the security upgrades honestly beat out the other upgrades (to me).


Keeping Your Webcam Secure


The webcam has been a constant source of paranoia since it’s inclusion into laptops. After all, a hacker could spy on you through it, and you’d never know. Fortunately, HP allows you to turn off the webcam with their “HP Webcam Kill Switch”.




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The Kill Switch takes the form of a, well, switch on the outside of the laptop, allowing you to quickly turn the webcam on or off. I find this makes a much better solution than a simple webcam cover.


Keeping Your Microphone Muted


One feature HP is introducing on the Spectre is a feature every laptop should have: a mute button for the microphone.


Why every laptop doesn’t have one, I don’t know. However, I know that being able to mute your microphone with a quick press of a button is much more convenient than having to go into Windows device settings and disabling it every time you don’t need it.


And I admit, a mute button isn’t exactly the most exciting thing, but it’s such a simple, convenient, and secure idea. Do you know what makes this feature even better? The inclusion of LED indicator that tells you when your microphone is muted. Such a good feature!


A Built-In Privacy Screen


Another great feature is the inclusion of a built-in privacy screen, though this privacy screen is optional. Furthermore, the privacy screen will not be included right off the bat (AKA now), HP delaying the privacy screen until January 2020.


Privacy screens are perfect for people who use their laptops for sensitive work but constantly find themselves around strangers. If you need one though, you’ll need to wait until the aforementioned date to get one–not ideal, but it’s what has to be done.


Partnering with a VPN Company


Lastly, we have what was the biggest surprise of the press release, which is HP’s new partnership with ExpressVPN, a world-class VPN company and industry leader in terms of security.


This partnership means that ExpressVPN will come preinstalled on all new Spectre 13’s. Furthermore, a free 30-day trial will be included, allowing new users to take the VPN out for a test drive before shelling out money for a subscription or uninstalling the program right off the bat.


Conclusion


HP may not make innovative products, but they sure do know how to refine previous innovations and make products that stand the test of time. The new Spectre may make many improvements in the performance and aesthetic departments, but the security improvements make the new Spectre a must-have for any laptop user focused on security.


If you’re at all interested in the new Spectre 13, you can pick it up now from HP’s website, though it may be a while until you receive it.

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