HP envy 14 spectre review

Shunning the aluminium silver outer design favoured by other Ultrabooks such as the Dell XPS 13 or the Acer Aspire S3, the HP Envy 14 Spectre boasts a black Gorilla Glass lid with a slick, glossy finish. Adding the final touch is the bright HP logo nestled in the corner.

Although it looks great, the inevitable downside is that the surface of the lid will quickly attract dust and smudgy fingerprints - more so than any other Ultrabook we've seen.

A backlit, isolation-style keyboard lurks underneath, and is one of the most comfortable we've used on an Ultrabook. The greater depth of the chassis gives a better travel to the keys, and the result is comfy typing all day long.

HP envy 14 spectre review

A neat trick is the ability of the keyboard to sense your proximity, and dim itself when you move away from the laptop, saving power.

Of course, any discussion of the Spectre's features starts and ends with the Beats audio. The speakers do a decent job of producing a rich, full sound - but slap a pair of Beats headphones on and you're ready to experience the best sound we've heard from an Ultrabook since the Bang & Olufsen-packing Asus Zenbook UX31.

Anyone who has used any of HP's other laptops, including the Envy and Pavilion ranges, will be at home with the extra choice Beats gives you.

You can open up a control panel to tweak all aspects of the Envy 14 Spectre's audio performance. There are also several bonus modes to take advantage of, such as noise and echo cancellation.

HP envy 14 spectre review

The HP Envy 14 Spectre also features a small Beats-branded clickwheel on the chassis that enables you to quickly alter the volume of the speakers.

Arguably, the HP Envy 14 Spectre's 14-inch screen should get as much praise as the Beats audio. The 1600 x 900 pixel resolution is a step up from other Ultrabooks such as the Lenovo IdeaPad U300S, and we marvelled at the crystal clear high-definition visuals.

Not only that, but the HP Envy 14 Spectre has a tiny bezel, allowing the 14-inch screen to sit nicely inside a 13.3-inch chassis.