Summary: Can you believe that just six months ago, HP was thinking of ditching the PC business? It seems far fetched today, now that we know the company had laptops like the lightweight, long-lasting Folio 13 and the powerful yet relatively inexpensive Envy series up its sleeves. And of course, that's before we consider the HP Envy 14 Spectre, too.
Pros: Original, attractive design, Crisp, clear display, Responsive trackpad, Good allotment of ports
Cons: Crummy speakers, Battery life doesn't match girth, Lid hard to open, Pricier than most
Conclusion: None of the competitors mentioned above is as drop-dead sexy as the Spectre, they all have smaller displays (with the exception of the Ultra M3), and none have integrated media-streaming features. On the other hand, each one of them is less expensive (by several hundred dollars, in some cases), and several are considerably faster than the Spectre.
Pros: Beautiful design, Great display, High-end feature set, Generous and genuinely useful software bundle
Cons: Expensive, Glass likely to shatter if dropped, Heavy for its size, Fan turns noisy under load
Excerpt: HP's Envy 14 Spectre wowed us at CES 2012, but looks can be deceiving. In this full review we find out if this 'premium Ultrabook' is worth the extra price, or if it's just a big, shiny, fingerprint magnet. Read on for the finer details.
Summary: The HP Envy 14 Spectre is a highly functional work of art, fusing stunning good looks with strong performance, a fast boot time, good audio and satisfying battery life. However, the design feels a little heavy for a notebook without an optical drive, and the $1,399 price is $100 more than the 13-inch MacBook Air.
Pros: Beautiful modern design, Solid performance, Comfy backlit keyboard, Sharp and bright display, Good audio
Cons: Serious fingerprint magnet, Mediocre graphics, Runs a bit warm on bottom, Relatively expensive
Conclusion: There’s no one area where this laptop obviously excels. While it gives the Sony Vaio C Series a run for its money on performance, it did score slightly slower overall. Though reasonably portable, it’s a far cry from the Asus U36JC . Using the keyboard and touchpad is pleasurable, but Apple’s MacBooks have a clear edge.
Excerpt: Fourteen inch laptops are hard to come by - and thin and light ones that are worth your money even more so. As we find out though in our Ultrabook group test, the HP Envy 14 Spectre is one such machine.
Summary: There was already a lot to like about the HP Envy 14, including a bright display, elegant design, and Beats Audio. Now you get speedier Core i5 performance, beefier switchable graphics, and a clickpad that's easier to use. Just as important, our configuration costs a very reasonable $1,079, which is $120 less than the 13-inch MacBook Pro.
Pros: Strong performance and graphics, Impressive Beats Audio, Maintains cool temperatures, Skype HD webcam, Improved multitouch performance
Cons: Heavy for 14-inch laptop, Fan a bit loud, No option for higher-res screen
Conclusion: It's easy to fall in love with the HP Envy 14. The notebook is visually stunning, and its high-end guise is matched by a powerful internal combination of Intel's Core i5 processor and AMD's Radeon HD graphics. Usability is excellent thanks to a bright, clear display and one of the best notebook keyboards on the market, and HP has ironed out many of the issues surrounding earlier Envy models.
Summary: HP certainly got more right in the second-generation Envy 14 than it did with the 13 and 15-inch releases from last year. The $1,149 Beats Edition also shows improvement, not just in performance, but in value. For more than $300 less than the 15-inch MacBook Pro, you're getting a machine with a comparable display, better graphics, superior audio, and (some might argue) a better look.
Pros: Stylish design with red backlit keyboard, Great audio quality, Bright vivid screen, Dr. Dre Solo headphones included, Improved touchpad
Cons: Just as heavy as the 15-inch MacBook Pro, Not available with high-res display, Lacks smooth switching between graphics cards