HP ENVY 14 Spectre review

The HP ENVY 14 Spectre ultrabook is packed with features including Beats Audio

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HP Envy 14 Spectre

HP Envy 14 Spectre
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HP ENVY 14 Spectre

HP ENVY 14 Spectre

The HP Envy 14 Spectre is the latest Ultrabook to hit the shelves and with the combined draw of HP's premium Envy range, and Dr Dre's urban cool Beats brand, it's going to be very hard to ignore.

Less concerned with a size-zero frame, the Spectre measures 20mm thin, and weighs 1.8kg – hefty for an Ultrabook. But the slight bulk allows it to throw around some extra connectivity and features that other Ultrabooks can't match.

HP Envy 14 Spectre: Features

Shunning the aluminium silver outer design favoured by other Ultrabooks like the Dell XPS 13 or the Acer Aspire S3, the Spectre boasts a black Gorilla Glass lid with a slick, glossy finish. Adding the final touch is the bright HP logo nestled in the corner.

A backlit, isolation-style keyboard lurks underneath and is one of the most comfortable we've used on an Ultrabook. The greater depth of the chassis gives a better travel to the keys and result is comfy typing all day long.

A very neat trick is the ability of the keyboard to sense your proximity and dim itself when you move away from the laptop, thereby saving power.

Of course, any discussion of the Spectre's features starts and ends with the Beats audio.

The speakers do a decent job of producing a rich, full sound – but slap on a pair of Beats by Dre Pro Beats and you're ready to experience the best sound we've heard from an Ultrabook since the Bang & Olufsen-packing Asus Zenbook UX31.

HP Envy 14 Spectre: Screen

Arguably, the Spectre's 14-inch screen should get as much praise as the Beats audio. The 1600 x 900 pixel resolution is a step up from other Ultrabooks like the Lenovo IdeaPad U300S and we were marvelling at the crystal clear high-definition visuals.

Not only that, but the Spectre has a tiny bezel, allowing the 14-inch screen to sit nicely inside a 13.3-inch chassis.

HP Envy 14 Spectre: Performance

Ultrabooks are all members of the Sandy Bridge family, and the Spectre is built around an Intel Core i5-2467M CPU operating at 1.60GHz. It's not the fastest or highest spec chip we've seen in an Ultrabook and rivals will triumph on raw power.

But general day-to-day use is relatively unaffected and the Spectre kept up with our multitasking needs. Both Adobe's Premier Elements and Photoshop Elements come preinstalled, and ran perfectly when we tried a spot of on-the-fly photo editing.

HP Envy 14 Spectre: Battery

According to HP, the Spectre will offer you a reasonable nine hours of battery life. We ran our high-stress benchmarking tests and recorded an impressive score of 206 minutes.

Avoid our brute force attack on the battery and you should have no trouble getting through a day without the company of the AC adapter. Just keep the volume down.

HP Envy 14 Spectre: Verdict

We see the HP Envy 14 Spectre as being the 'cool kid' of the Ultrabook class, with its Beats audio branding, high resolution 14-inch screen and Gorilla Glass casing.

It's a highly usable laptop, with only the integrated click buttons on the touchpad giving us grief.

At first, we had worries about the slightly chunkier casing but this was tempered by the joy we felt when we spotted the HDMI port and Ethernet port HP has included on the chassis.

This is undoubtedly the Ultrabook for media enthusiasts and, although the hefty price may put some off, is sure to garner its fair share of support.