HP envy 14 spectre review

We see the HP Envy 14 Spectre as being the 'cool kid' of the Ultrabook class, with its Beats audio branding, high resolution 14-inch screen and Gorilla Glass casing. It's a highly usable laptop, with only the integrated click buttons on the touchpad giving us grief.

We liked

At first, we had worries about the slightly chunkier casing, but this was tempered by the joy we felt when we spotted the HDMI port and Ethernet port that HP has included on the chassis. We've lamented the lack of connectivity on other Ultrabooks, and having the option for a wired internet connection and the use of an external monitor is music to our ears.

On the subject of music, this is undoubtedly the Ultrabook for media enthusiasts. The screen is gloriously crisp and the extra audio technology on board gives you options to tweak and alter the sound to get your albums sounding the way you want. Invest in a decent pair of headphones or an amplifier and you can make this your sole media machine.

We disliked

Ultrabooks are meant to be light, airy and portable computers. By any other laptop standards, the HP Envy 14 Spectre is a classy ultra-portable. But, when you put it up against the other Ultrabooks, it's inescapably bulky.

It just comes in under the weight limit set out in Intel's specifications for Ultrabooks, and business users might be more swayed by the svelt curves of the Dell XPS 13 or the functionality of the Toshiba Satellite Z830.

We also got increasingly frustrated with the integrated click buttons on the touchpad. We know the overall effect is a nicer aesthetic, but unfortunately the usability suffers as a result. Often we would just rely on the double-tap to select files and launch programs instead.

Final verdict

We're deep into the second round of Ultrabook releases by now, and we feel the HP Envy 14 Spectre sits alongside the Dell XPS 13 at the top of the heap. But these are two different machines with different focuses.

The HP Envy 14 Spectre is the most media-centred Ultrabook, with a larger 14-inch screen, 1600 x 900 pixel resolution and Beats audio technology. But it won't win over fans looking for performance and portability, due to the lower spec processor and bulky Gorilla Glass chassis.

If you can overcome the steep asking price then the HP Envy 14 Spectre is a well-built and stylish way to transport and enjoy your music, movies and do a spot of image editing.