PC

HP Spectre: Ultra-thin luxury laptop from HP for fashionistas

HP achieves this ultra-thin design by moving the hinges to the rear and splitting the internal battery into four separate parts. This lets HP better fit the batteries to minimise the thickness.
HP achieves this ultra-thin design by moving the hinges to the rear and splitting the internal battery into four separate parts. This lets HP better fit the batteries to minimise the thickness. PHOTO: HP

While going super-thin has its drawbacks, the HP Spectre is not thin on performance

With the Spectre, HP has crafted a stunning, luxury ultrabook that also happens to be the thinnest notebook in the world.

It measures just 10.4mm thick. To put this in context: the original Apple iPad from 2010 was 13mm thick. So is the latest 12-inch Apple MacBook.

HP achieves this ultra-thin design by moving the hinges to the rear and splitting the internal battery into four separate parts.

This lets HP better fit the batteries to minimise the thickness.

The Spectre's aluminium and carbon fibre chassis feels surprisingly strong and rigid.

The rear of the laptop is finished in copper, which imbues it with a premium feel.

But the copper finish is a magnet for fingerprint smudges.

  • TECH SPECS


    PRICE: $2,599


    PROCESSOR: Intel Core i7-6500U (2.5GHz)


    GRAPHICS: Intel HD Graphics 520


    RAM: 8GB


    SCREEN SIZE: 13.3 inches, 1,920 x 1,080 pixels


    CONNECTIVITY: 2 x USB 3.1 Type-C with Thunderbolt, 1 x USB 3.1 Type-C, audio jack


    BATTERY: 38 watt-hour

    RATING


    FEATURES: 4/5


    DESIGN: 4/5


    PERFORMANCE: 4/5


    VALUE FOR MONEY: 3/5


    BATTERY LIFE: 4/5


    OVERALL: 4/5

Because its sides are too thin, the Spectre's three USB ports (the slim Type-C version) are located at the rear, along with the audio jack. All three USB Type-C ports can be used for charging.

Users will need adapters to connect the Spectre to an external monitor or full-size USB devices.

I am very impressed by the amount of key travel on the island-style keyboard.

It is much nicer to type on, compared with some ultrabooks, and there is a handy backlight, too. However, the wide but short touchpad is not at all convenient for two-fingered scrolling of documents and Web pages.

Like most ultra-thin laptops, the Spectre's sleek body has its drawbacks. Chief among them: the bottom of the laptop gets uncomfortably warm. You definitely want a bag or a cushion as a buffer between the Spectre and your lap.

Unusually for a premium laptop, the Spectre lacks a touchscreen. But this makes sense: a touchscreen would be thicker and heavier than a normal display.

The screen resolution is surprisingly mundane at 1,920 x 1,080 pixels. Last year's HP Spectre x360 came with a 2,560 x 1,440-pixel display. I assume HP chose a lower- resolution screen because it consumes less power.

In any case, I was never a fan of ultra-high-resolution screens in 13-inch laptops. Besides, the Spectre's glossy display looks great. It is bright and vivid with wide viewing angles. The only blemish: the bezel is relatively thick compared with some of the latest ultrabooks.

You will find the Bang & Olufsen branding etched at the corner below the keyboard, but don't get your hopes up. The speakers on the left and right of the Spectre's keyboard sound like the ones on most other ultrabooks - treble-heavy with little punch. And not loud enough for my liking.

Despite being so thin, the Spectre does not compromise on performance like other competitors, which use a less-powerful but fanless Core M chip.

Instead, this laptop has an ultrabook-class Intel Core i7 processor with 8GB of system memory and a 512GB solid-state drive.

Performance is similar to that of other Core i7 ultrabooks, with the Spectre scoring 2,594 in PCMark 8 Home benchmark.

For such a thin and light laptop, battery life (our test involves looping a video at full brightness and volume) was better than I expected at 6hr 20 min.


  • Verdict: The Spectre is flawed, but it justifies its premium billing with a stunning, ultra-thin design and good battery life.
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 20, 2016, with the headline 'Ultra-thin luxury laptop from HP for fashionistas'. Print Edition | Subscribe