HP Envy 14 Spectre Ultrabook
Shiny slab of laptop lusciousness
Review The test unit I reviewed was forwarded on to me from the Harrods press office. That alone should tell you a lot about the HP Envy 14 Spectre. For you, Harrods may conjure images of oil sheiks browsing bling, affectatious middle classes buying ham and feeble-minded tourists ogling Saint Diana's soiled crockery, but Harrods makes a point of not selling crap.
HP's shiny Spectre: glass even covers the full width of the base in front of the keyboard
Forget about money and demographics for a second and instead consider appearance and reputation. If I was the kind of person who bought computers from Harrods, the HP Envy 14 Spectre is exactly the type of laptop I want the great unwashed who linger zombie-like near the entrance to see me walking out with.
The combination of an almost mirror-like black glass lid backed with a cool aluminium body is reminiscent of modern smartphones and tablets but somehow more grown-up and less toy-like. Sure, the HP Envy 14 Spectre probably looks like an executive toy to many of you reading this, but it's still a pretty decent Ultrabook in its own right.
I use the term 'Ultrabook' with some reservation because the Spectre is thicker and heavier than any Ultrabook I have tested for El Reg to date. But what does 'Ultrabook' really mean? Intel has trademarked the word, so it gets first dibs on a definition: apparently, Ultrabooks are "ultra responsive, ultra sleek and ultra stylish devices that are less than an inch thick and wake up in a flash."
OK, the Spectre is all of those things but let's be fair - even Dell's cheapest Inspiron is less than an inch thick. My own definition would be: "less than 0.75in thick and light enough to be held between the fingers and thumb of one hand with the arm outstretched for half a minute without your muscles trembling." The Spectre might fail that one.
Just to show everyone how spanky you are, the mirrored HP logo on the top glows when it's on
It's possible that the Spectre's thickness and weight are a little greater than expected for an Ultrabook because of its three glass surfaces. The entire top surface of the the lid, the entire surface (display and bezel) on the other side, and more than one third of the base in front of the keyboard is covered by sheets of toughened, scratch-resistant glass.
Next page: The thick of it
Not convinced about ultra books,
Yes they are portable just like a netbook though they cost £1000 more.
Yes they are as powerful as a full blown laptop but at £500 more.
Yes they are more practical than a tablet but are £600 more.
But still you only get 5 hours battery life, there is no disk drive and the screen is usually below par.
So why bother unless it is a fashion item.
What about us poor buggers?
It's all very well seeing numerous reviews of fab £1000+ laptops and yes, I'd like one (or two), but it'd be nice to see an occasional review for a budget laptop - say sub £500. Even better, a top-ten of the best of the cheapies. Not all of us are Rockefellers.
CD/DVD use has declined a lot and with cheap USB sticks and external drives powered over USB, not all that many use cases where an external drive is a problem nowadays. Good call IMO.
Its all in the advertising.
Adverts and adverts telling us we need an ultra book, because they are the next best thing eventhough they are severely overpriced and are a compromise.
It is the manufacturers promotion of something they want us to have but we do not actually need.
I'm not buying into it.
Intel Graphics == No use to me
I will aim at a much cheaper, only slightly heavier 13.3" or 14" notebook with nVidia 520 or 540 graphics so I can run CUDA and openCL stuff (there are a few very nice ones from Asus, Samsung, and even Dell). The whole idea of an ultrabook is hobbled by the insistence on Intel graphics. For the prices they are asking they could put in a decent graphics chipset. Until Intel supports CUDA (i.e. when hell freezes over) I will steer clear of any machine with only Intel graphics.