Light HP Spectre rivals MacBook Air

Tech tools: As the world’s thinnest laptop, new HP device is impressive but its battery could be better

The HP Spectre looks great and aims to rival MacBook Air

Product name: HP Spectre

Price: €1549.0

Where to buy: www.hp.com

Website: www.hp.com

Thu, Aug 18, 2016, 15:19

   

When it comes to aesthetics, the MacBook Air seems to have struck the right note with both consumers and manufacturers. Every laptop that claims to be light and thin is held up against it for scrutiny, with varying degrees of success.

So, it’s not too much of a leap to compare the HP Spectre to Apple’s device. Like the MacBook, it has tried to forge its own distinctive look, and like its Mac rival, it aims for sleek over fully featured.

Lookswise, it certainly makes the effort, billing itself as the world’s thinnest laptop. The casing is two-tone carbon fibre and aluminium, with a hidden hinge that keeps everything looking sleek. The screen is Gorilla Glass and 13.3 inches in size, although less bezel would have been more impressive.

The HP Spectre uses USB C for power and data connections. That is partly why it is so thin – 10.4mm, to be precise. But it comes with a regular USB to USB C converter in the box, so you can start using the machine as soon as you open it.

It also has three ports in the rear of the machine, so you don’t have to make a choice between charging the laptop and accessing files on a USB drive, for example.

In an ideal world, we’d all be using cloud services, but with internet access unreliable in parts of the country, relying on such services isn’t always possible. That’s before you start thinking about confidential documents that simply can’t go online.

The Spectre has no touch screen, which is a little disorienting. It is the first machine I’ve reviewed that runs Windows 10 that doesn’t include the touchscreen interface as a key selling point.

On one hand, it feels like the Spectre is missing out, but on the other, you don’t get smudgy fingerprints all over the screen. Perhaps there is something to be said for keeping it simple.

Bang and Olufsen speakers complete the package, teaming up with HP’s audio technology to deliver some decent sound – within reason – it’s still a laptop, after all.

The device runs on a Core i5 or i7 processor. The review machine I was given to test runs the i5, and it performed well.

It also offered up to 8GB of RAM and a 256 solid state drive, so it was quick to start up and multitasking went without a hitch.

Although HP has a lot to say about the machine’s unique cooling system, it got a bit toastier than I’d have liked. No bare legs on a warm day, put it that way.

HP claim it has a battery life of 10 hours but, with normal use, it fell a bit short of that.

Still, I was getting a solid six hours out of the machine, and that was putting it through its paces.

Good:

If you are after a laptop that looks great, the Spectre doesn’t disappoint. It may be a little on the “bling” side – that edging isn’t subtle, by any means – but the overall look is good.

The Core i processors make the Spectre a solid laptop too, and it handled everything from simple word processing and web browsing to more power-hungry games with ease.

There is one caveat though: the HP Spectre isn’t powerful enough to run VR for the HTC Vive, for example, so the graphics card would struggle with more demanding games.

Not so good:

The USB C ports save a lot of space but, unless you have the right adapters to hand, they can be a pain.

Once everyone else in the tech world – mobile phone manufacturers, for example – makes the transition, this will be far less of a problem.

The rest:

Including the adapter in the box for regular USB connections is a good move for HP.

The Solid state drive can be upgraded to 512GB, but a compatible external hard drive would probably make more sense.

Verdict:

HP is making a splash with this ultrabook . Perhaps a better battery next time?

Price: €1,549