March 19, 2012
- Beautiful glass design
- High-quality display
- Solid performance
- Easily shows fingerprints
- Slightly expensive price
The HP Envy 14 Spectre joins the popular category of ultrabook laptop computers. It offers a vibrant 14-inch display, a glass lid and a very sleek design. In terms of power, the Spectre has an Intel Core i5 CPU, a 128GB SSD HD and overall good performance.
HP chose to design the Envy 14 a little differently than the Envy 15. This model has a high-gloss black glass finish that is scratch-resistant. The design of the laptop makes it look very beautiful and sleek. The surface does pickup fingerprints quite easily unfortunately.
Typing on the roomy island-style keyboard was a comfortable experience. The keys are very well-spaced and laid out in a sensible manner. We did notice a bit of flex near the middle of the keyboard. The keys are also backlit and automatically controlled similar to the Apple MacBook Pro, which is always a welcomed addition.
The Envy 14 Spectre's expansive touchpad is also made of scratch-proof glass and allows for a frictionless space to navigate. The multitouch gestures were simple to execute and made easy because of the pad's large size.
The edge-to-edge 14-inch LED-backlit display has a native resolution of 1600 x 900-pixels, so it's better than 720p HD and also one of the highest resolution ultrabooks on the market. We found the display's quality to be very good and delivered strong brightness levels. There is a glossy coating on the screen, so you get some reflections from ambient lighting or sunlight.
One unique feature that we must mention is the built-in NFC chip, which allows users to transfer websites between Google Android NFC-enabled phones and their HP Envy 14. Once you download the HP Touch to Share application from the Google Play app store and enable NFC, just place it on the palm rest to pair it with your laptop. Once paired, you can transfer websites from your Android phone to the Spectre with just one click. While the technology is relatively new and rather limited in scope, there is a lot of potential for future uses.
In terms of the ports, the Envy 14 Spectre offers one USB 3.0 port, one USB 2.0 port, HDMI-out, mini-DisplayPort out, gigabit Ethernet, a combo headphone/microphone jack and a 2-in-1 card reader. There is also 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi wireless too.
Our configuration included an Intel Core i5-2467M (1.6GHz) CPU, 4GB of RAM, a 128GB SSD HD and integrated Intel HD 3000 graphics. For an additional $400, you get a Core i7 CPU and 256GB of SSD space.
Performance with our Envy 14 Spectre's configuration was very solid and put it right at or slightly above the category average. The SSD hard drive definitely helps with things like file transfers and boot-up times. However, some other ultrabooks seemed to have better performance in some areas, like image processing, but the Spectre wasn't too far behind. Most users will find performance to be speedy and exactly what they expect from a laptop like this one.
The integrated Intel graphics provide more than enough power for watching HD movies from the Internet or doing most tasks, but hardcore gaming isn't its strong suit. For this use, check out laptops with switchable graphics, like the Lenovo IdeaPad U400.
Battery life with the Envy 14 Spectre was right on average at 6 hours, so there's nothing to complain about here.