HP Envy 14 Spectre Ultrabook Review

By on September 9, 2012
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A premium Ultrabook that needs a few more tweaks.

Good: Stellar looks and finishing, NFC, strong audio
Bad: Can be hard to open, glossy surface needs frequent cleaning, slightly heavy for an Ultrabook, acceptable battery life, high price point
Price: AED 5,599
* The price is the Suggested Retail Price at the time of review. Please call a retailer to confirm the latest price for this product.

There have been many evolutions for the humble notebook, the most recent being the introduction of the Ultrabook, and how every single manufacturer has jumped on the bandwagon to produce the most amazing laptop they can fathom. HP’s foray into the Ultrabook series comes with the HP Envy 14 Spectre, part of its ‘premium’ lineup of laptops. So does this Ultrabook look and feel the part of its premium price tag? Read on to find out.



Build quality & Design

Probably the most remarkable thing about the HP Envy 14 Spectre is the design – this Ultrabook simply oozes ‘posh’ and certainly stands out from the dull matte laptops you’ll see people carrying around (including mine). The Spectre is the first laptop I’ve seen which incorporate glass into its back panel – that’s right, glass. This does bring about two things – firstly the Spectre weighs significantly more than the usual Ultrabook, and secondly it’s glossy finish is nearly impossible to keep clean. Having said that, the laptop just looks absolutely stunning, and the dark black finish will certainly turn heads wherever you go.

Opening the Spectre up is a bit of a challenge – the laptop’s hinge has certainly been designed to hold up the glass display securely, but it’s just way too tight to open the lid comfortably with one hand. There’s a very small lip at the bottom that you’re supposed to grab onto, but you need to dig a fingernail under it in order to pry open the thing. But once it’s open, you’re greeted with the silver metallic and glass finish of the Envy 14 Spectre.

The Envy 14 Spectre continues the glass finishing on the palm rest and trackpad, which is a bit of a mixed bag. On one side it gives the trackpad a better feel to it, but on the flip side it’s a bit uncomfortable to rest your hands on the palm rest area for an extended period of time, because the abrupt edge of the notebook will certainly start digging into your palms.

The Envy 14 Spectre include a healthy selection of ports, which is not often seen in most Ultrabooks. They’ve all been allocated to the left side of the laptop, which is where you’ll find the mini-DP port, HDMI, Ethernet, two USB ports, a headphone jack, and a memory card reader. The opposite side is home to the power connector, a button to turn off and on the Beats audio, as well as a volume rocker that behaves a bit bizarrely as it controls the volume in opposite to how you turn the dial. But despite everything, the Envy 14 Spectre is a sight to behold, and HP certainly put a good amount of effort in ensuring this. You even get a nice soft sleeve case that you can tuck the Envy 14 Spectre into, which is great when you’re on the move. And if you’re about to crib about the lack of USB ports to charge your devices, HP have kindly included a spare USB port on the actual power brick, which is nothing short of awesome. The power brick itself is quite slim, and instantly disconnects into three pieces for easier portability.


Like most Ultrabooks, the Envy 14 Spectre is designed to strike the balance between performance and portability, and hence sports a fairly acceptable system configuration. For its price tag you get a decent amount of beef under the hood to run through most tasks without complaining, including getting some decent amount of work done in Photoshop.

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A former IT & Marketing Manager turned full time Editor, Nick enjoys hurling fireballs and tinkering with the latest gadgets. Follow him on Twitter as @theregos

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