HP’s slim, stylish and sturdy laptop.
There have been several versions of HP’s thin and lightweight Spectre laptop over the years, but the latest Windows 8.1 model is the best looking yet. The brown lid and underside look unusual, but classy.
The metallic construction gives it rigidity, but it never became uncomfortably warm on our lap.
And yet, the Spectre doesn’t coast by on its good looks. It’s very portable at just 1.5kg (rising to 1.7kg with charger), while its battery lasted a very impressive 13 hours in our light-usage test. This makes it great for using while out and about and less likely you’ll run out of battery charge when you need it most.
The Spectre has a spacious touchpad, the biggest we’ve seen on any laptop.
It feels accurate and – as with many other laptop touchpads – it replicates Windows 8’s touchscreen gestures, such as swiping in from the right to bring up the Charms bar. The Spectre goes one step further though, letting you scroll through all the Charms by swiping up and down the touchpad.
It’s more fiddly than simply using the touchscreen though.
HP has crammed 1920×1080 pixels into the 13in screen. This is sufficient to display two documents side by side, but squeezing that many pixels into a relatively small space can make text too cramped to read comfortably. You’ll need to adjust Windows’ display settings to compensate. The screen is bright with decent contrast and reasonably good colour accuracy.
The keyboard is a generous size, but oddly doesn’t light up for use in dark conditions. It’s comfortable to type on because the keys give plenty of feedback when pressed, but typing errors are too easy to make as the keys have too much travel.
The Spectre is fast thanks to its 8GB memory and dual-core 1.6GHz Intel Core i5 4200U processor. Waking from sleep and startup are almost instantaneous due to the 256GB SSD.
An unexpected but very useful extra is a pre-installed copy of Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 5, which is the latest version.
The HP Spectre is a great ultra-portable laptop, although the MacBook Air has the edge thanks to its longer battery life and superior touchpad. But the Spectre is still a superb choice – especially if you want to stick with Windows.
- 1.6GHz Intel Core i5 4200U dual-core processor
- 8CB memory
- 256GB SSD
- Intel HD 4400 integrated graphics
- 13.3in 1920×1080-pixel screen
- Windows 8.1
- 1.5kg (1.7kg with charger)
- 15x324x220mm (HxWxD)
- One-year warranty