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HP Spectre 13 review: This stylish ultrabook conceals real power
- Surprisingly excellent performance, at least in general computing
- Lightweight, yet sturdy
- Good value for the money
- Battery life falls short of the competition’s
- 1080p display is rather basic
- Quirky keyboard could use some improvements
HP’s Spectre Laptop 13 makes some smart choices, building top-tier performance inside a stylish, lightweight chassis. Only the display and battery life are average.
Best Prices Today: Spectre Laptop 13 (af0xx)
HP’s Spectre 13 was designed for tablet lovers who don’t buy tablets. It’s a lightweight though sturdy ultrabook designed with a powerful Intel 8th-generation Core chip inside and an eye toward the future. HP’s stylish Spectre offers excellent performance for an ultrabook at a good price, making this a recommended choice.
At a light 2.4 pounds, though, the Spectre 13 is forced to make some compromises. It falls short of the “all-day” battery life that some demand, delivering about six hours in our tests. HP probably dialed down the display resolution to preserve battery life, too, so the Spectre includes a 1080p touchscreen display. The Spectre 13 also commits wholeheartedly to USB-C/Thunderbolt. You’ll need a dongle if you own older peripherals.
HP Spectre 13 specs and features
iThe Spectre 13 sandwiches a decent stack of features between its slender panels. There’s no discrete GPU, and the storage and battery are a bit spare, but Its 8th-gen Core CPU is the star.
- Display: 13.3-inch, 1920×1080 IPS touchscreen with Corning Glass NBT
- CPU: 1.8GHz Intel Core i7-8550U ( Kaby Lake-R )
- Memory: 8GB LPDDR3 SDRAM
- Graphics: Intel UHD620 (integrated)
- Storage: 256GB PCIe NVMe M.2 SSD
- Ports: 2 USB-C/Thunderbolt (40Gb/s data, power, DisplayPort 1.2); 1 USB-C 3.1
- Wireless: 2.2 802.11ac, Bluetooth
- Battery: 4-cell 43.7Whr lithium-ion polymer
- Operating system: Windows 10 Home
- Dimensions and weight: 12.1 x 8.9 x 0.4 inches, 2.4 pounds (3.18 pounds with adapter)
- Price: MSRP $1,310, on sale for $1,110 at press time
Note that HP also includes a range of options: up to a 1.8GHz Core i7-8550U (an additional $180), 16GB of memory ($70 more), up to a 1TB SSD ($370 additionally) and a 4K display (an additional $150).
HP Spectre 13: Build quality and display
Whether open or closed, the Spectre 13’s elegance shines through. It’s a beautifully architected notebook PC, with metallic accents that complement the understated white of the chassis. (Normally, the Spectre 13 ships in black; the Ceramic White option our test machine included is an extra $10—and worth it.) Would I have chosen a series of circular holes to replace the hexagonal slits of the fan grille? Maybe. A narrow power button to one side also feels a bit out of place. But these are just nitpicks.
The Spectre Laptop 13’s hinge, which “floats” the display above the keyboard, is a stylish touch.
Otherwise, though, the Spectre 13 inspired a round of admiring remarks as we opened it up. For some reason Apple is still held up as the model of aesthetic excellence within the computer industry, and the Spectre 13 proves.that adulation is misplaced. HP, at least, has passed it by.
At 2.4 pounds, the Spectre 13 is light, yet solidly constructed. Many aspects reminded me, though of a tablet: its weight; the power-efficient, 1080p display; and the pair of silver hinges that conceal the I/O and electric connections, slightly lifting the display above the keyboard. HP also includes a pleather laptop sleeve to protect the Spectre Laptop from nicks and scratches while in your bag.
A laptop sleeve comes standard, HP says.
The HP Spectre Laptop 13’s 1080p display pumps out 291 lumens, just above the 265 lumens or so that we normally consider ideal for average use. There’s no automatic brightness compensation, however, so you’ll need to dive into the Windows Settings menu to make any needed adjustments. About the only complaint I have about the display is the massive bottom bezel HP added too equalize the size of the display to the keyboard when closed. On one hand, it’s a jarring throwback to the laptops of the 1980s. On the other, it’s the mole that sets off the rest of the Spectre Laptop’s face.
HP Spectre Laptop 13: Ports and keyboard
On the rear of the Spectre 13 sit three USB-C ports: a dedicated charging port, and two others that can either be used for charging (the Spectre itself, or external devices) as well as I/O. Placing them to the back of the laptop keeps the cords out of the way, including the 3.5mm headphone jack that the Spectre Laptop preserves.
The power button looks like it could support a fingerprint reader, but doesn’t. Nearby sits the useless “help” (“?”) key. Why couldn’t it launch the Windows 10 “Tips” app?
Importantly, two of the ports (marked with the appropriate logo) are Thunderbolt 3, meaning they’re capable of transferring 40 Gbps data, including DisplayPort 1.2, and delivering and receiving power. The other, standalone charging port is a more generic USB-C port, capable of receiving power and transferring 5 Gbps, including DisplayPort.
USB-C still remains a somewhat dicey proposition, if only because the standard still requires users to invest in dongles to connect older devices. What HP should have done is bridge the older I/O standards to the new by including dedicated USB-C adapters within the box. And it does so, somewhat, by bundling a USB-C to USB-A adapter in the version of the Spectre Laptop it ships to Best Buy. But HP’s shopping page for the Spectre fails to list either its $24 USB-C to HDMI 2.0 adapter or the $49 USB-C to ethernet adapter , proving that the company at least needs to put more thought into the experience.
A trio of USB-C ports (and a headphone jack, not shown) are the Spectre Laptop 13’s only physical I/O ports. The two right-hand ports support the Thunderbolt high-speed I/O connection.
The keyboard of the Spectre 13 feels of/8 tight and springy, but with shallower key travel than I’d normally prefer within a notebook. It feels like a tablet keyboard, though a bit roomier, spanning 11.5 inches from the left to the right-hand side of the keyboard. That’s about three-quarters of an inch wider than the Microsoft Surface Type Covers that I’ve used frequently, though each individual key still measures about 1.6 cm across—the wider keyboard provides a bit more space between keys, basically.
The keyboard also has its quirks. A dedicated “?” key in the top row of function keys serves as a dedicated help button, but the only thing it does is launch Edge with a preprogrammed “how to get help in Windows 10” query. There’s no intelligence, no contextual awareness from app to app, rather shocking in an age where digital assistants try to learn so much about you. Why not just make it a dedicated Cortana key or launch the Windows 10 “Tips” app? Also, though the keyboard is backlit, a dedicated backlighting key toggles it on and off—always on, or always off, with no intensity gradations or gradual timeouts.
The keyboard’s backlighting is adequate, though it’s simply on and off.
The narrow gap around the touchpad gives the impression that it was shoehorned in, though it felt smooth and responsive under my fingers. Gestures operated as you’d expect.
The Spectre 13 pumps out an impressive amount of volume through its Bang & Olufsen certified speakers, with decent (for a laptop) bass and midrange. Adjusting the bass and treble using the Bang & Olufsen app’s audio controls does zilch, though, turning on Windows’ virtual 7.1 audio slightly improved the sound. In all, the Spectre’s speakers, mounted behind the keyboard, aren’t that bad. I did notice some speaker crackle crept in near the end of my review period, though.
The Spectre 13 lacks a rear camera, though the grainy front-facing TrueVision HD IR camera includes Windows Hello biometric login capabilities which worked well. A pair of IR LED lights help illuminate your face.
HP’s Spectre ships with a free trial of Minecraft for Windows 10, plus a few shovelware games apps preloaded onto the notebook. Netflix (which includes a free month’s trial) and a free promotion with Dropbox (30GB for a year, for new users) are also pre-loaded and appear on the taskbar. Microsoft’s Office 365 apps are also preloaded, though they’ll still require activation via Office 365 to be useful. (If you do subscribe, be aware that Microsoft gives you a free terabyte of storage via OneDrive, which might make the Dropbox deal extraneous.)
Our test unit shipped with three adapters for the Spectre Laptop 13, most of which you’ll have to buy yourself.
HP includes a few extras, including its own HP JumpStart introduction to its services, and an HP ePrint app. Though Windows includes its own Windows Defender antivirus software, our machine also came with an activated copy of McAfee LiveSafe, an anti-malware, firewall and Internet protection app which normally costs $80 per year.
HP Spectre Laptop 13 performance: generally excellent
Though the 8th-generation Core chip inside the HP Spectre 13 offers more capabilities than the prior 7th-generation chips, you’re probably not buying this laptop for performance alone. Still, the Laptop 13 is one of the first to include a so-called Kaby Lake Refresh chip , the very latest Intel processor at the time of this review, and it pays off. This 4-core, 8-thread chip boosts from 1.8GHz to 4.0GHz when under load, though the integrated graphics chip means that 3D performance suffers somewhat.
Great performance in such a thin (0.4 in.) form factor is outstanding.
Essentially, the Spectre 13 is best suited for office tasks, along with some light gaming and video playback. As we almost always do, we used this laptop as our work machine for several days, and also to write this review.
At this point, the vast majority of machines can handle routine home and office tasks, including web browsing, Office work, and the like. I happened to have an even 30 tabs open in Google Chrome as I wrote this review, and I didn’t notice a smidge of slowdown—though when one browser tab sucked up all the available memory, the fan kicked in. Here’s how the Spectre Laptop 13 stacks up against a variety of recent thin laptops we’ve tested. We start off strong with PCMark’s Work benchmark, which measures basic Microsoft Office-like spreadsheets and word-processing tasks.
The PCMark benchmark measures office tasks, and its Kaby Lake-R chip propels the HP Spectre 13 to the top of the heap.
PCMark also measures Home and Creative tasks, including light gaming, photo and video editing, and the like. Once again, the Spectre 13 comes out ahead.
You’ll have no problems with 2D sprite-based games like Terraria . Even basic 3D games like Minecraft ran absolutely smoothly.
Again, the native performance of the HP Spectre 13 lifts it above all of the other recent ultrabooks and tablets we’ve tested.
We also test laptops and tablets using the Maxon Cinebench benchmark, which renders a complex 2D scene using all of the available cores and threads. It’s a somewhat abstract test, but the results speak to how well the Spectre 13 processes visual tasks.
Not only is the HP Spectre 13 on top, but its performance exceeds the others by a wide margin.
A somewhat similar task uses HandBrake, an open-source tool which we use to convert a Hollywood movie into a lower-resolution format for Android tablets. If you use the Spectre 13 for intensive processing tasks, this is another real-world example of how well HP’s laptop will fare.
In our video conversion test using Handbrake, the HP Spectre Laptop 13 comes out close to the top.
Finally, we also test using the 3DMark 3D graphics tests, which ask the laptop to render several scenes, which incorporate intensive 3D graphics, object physics, or both. In the real world, I like to run spot checks of how well the hardware plays some games I’ve accumulated over the years. Crysis 3 , a seven-year-old top-tier first-person shooter, delivered about 27 frames per second at 1080p resolution and Ultimate settings, a bit too low to be playable. Surprisingly, that’s about the same frame rate that Paradox Interactive’s city builder Cities: Skylines played at, a bit more acceptable for a slower-paced game. A top-down 2D shooter, Neon Chrome , played at 60 frames per second (the maximum my monitor allowed) with no issues. Again, Minecraft looked as smooth as silk. I wouldn’t even consider trying a recent 3D shooter like Destiny 2 with the Spectre Laptop 13, however.
Otherwise, though, the Spectre 13 fared somewhat average.
One of the few tests where the HP Spectre Laptop didn’t perform all that well. Look closer, though, and you’ll see that the upper tiers consist of the 7th-gen Core i7 chips, which performed just slightly better in 3D applications. The two 8th-gen ultrabooks are neck and neck.
Finally, there’s battery life, always a key metric for a laptop or tablet. Again, I suspect that a larger, thicker laptop would have been capable of a higher-resolution display with longer battery life. At over six hours, the Spectre Laptop’s 43 -watt-hour will last you about the length of a plane flight from San Francisco to New York, playing videos the whole way—which is how PCWorld.com measures battery life. But if you’re looking for a mobile device with superior battery life, look elsewhere.
PCWorld loops a video continuously until the battery expires, with audio on and at what we consider to be a reasonable light intensity.
Should you buy the HP Spectre 13?
HP’s Spectre 13 doesn’t go all-out on any particular aspect of the computing experience, making tradeoffs that HP thinks you’ll tolerate. Its cutting-edge 8th-gen Kaby Lake-R chip puts it at or near the top of the heap in general computing performance. In CPU- or GPU-intensive tasks, it’s a bit more average:
Not every notebook has to shoot for the stars. The HP Spectre 13 certainly delivers on weight and aesthetic appeal. Though we obviously can’t speak to the long-term durability of the Spectre 13, this seems like a solidly performing ultrabook designed to address your needs both now and in the future.
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HP Spectre 13-3010ea Ultrabook review
It won’t break any speed records, but the HP Spectre 13 is a smart, attractive Ultrabook that can give Apple’s MacBook Air a run for its money. The HP’s slimline design, high-quality display and reasonable battery life help ensure that it earns its keep when you’re out and about. And, of course, there’s that over-sized trackpad, which is a small but worthy innovation that makes it just that little bit more comfortable to use than many of its rivals.
Someone at HP has obviously had on their thinking cap on. The company recently released its HP Envy 17 laptop with a built-in Leap Motion sensor that allows you to control the laptop with hand gestures. The HP Spectre 13 boasts a less exotic – but probably more useful – innovation in the form of a Very Big Trackpad™. See also: What’s the best laptop you can buy in 2014?
That’s not HP’s actual name for it, but given the US company’s Love of Capitals and trademark signs it might as well be. We realise a larger trackpad might not sound terribly exciting, but small details can often make a big difference, and the HP Spectre 13 turns out to be one of the most attractive Ultrabooks we’ve seen recently.
In most respects, the HP Spectre 13 looks very similar to its numerous predecessors in the Spectre range, based on the Apple MacBook Air design, with a slimline aluminium chassis that is both sturdy and elegant. It’s eminently portable too, with a weight of just 1.52 kg, and a smoothly tapered profile that measures just 15 mm thick.
HP Spectre 13 review: display
Its 13.3-inch display is excellent, with a bright, colourful image that is so crisp and sharp that we initially assumed it must have a pixel-packed Retina display similar that of Apple’s MacBook Pro.
In fact, it turns out to be a 1920 x 1080 resolution – which makes more sense given the Spectre’s £999 price tag – but it’s certainly one of the best displays we’ve seen on a laptop costing less than £1000. HP only refers to it as a ‘Radiance’ display, but the brightness and all-round viewing angles are what we’d expect from an IPS panel.
And, just to show off that excellent display, HP even bundles a copy of Adobe Lightroom so that you can admire your holiday snaps in all their glory.
The screen is touch-sensitive, but that seems almost irrelevant once you get used to that extra large trackpad. Measuring a full 140 x 67 mm, it’s the largest trackpad we’ve ever seen on a laptop. The surface of the trackpad has a very smooth finish that feels pleasantly tactile, and it responds very smoothly to the various multiple-finger gestures that are available. (See also: MacBook Pro vs MacBook Air comparison .)
HP Spectre 13 review: trackpad
There’s a special control panel for the trackpad that allows you to divide it into three sections, with narrow ‘control zones’ on the far right and left edges that can be used to mimic touch-screen controls such as a left-flick to activate the Windows 8 ‘charms’. This reviewer generally prefers the trackpad on my MacBook Air to that of most Windows laptops, but HP’s twist on the trackpad theme could teach even Apple a few tricks.
HP Spectre 13 review: specs and performance
The Spectre 13 is currently only available in a single configuration, priced at £999 with a dual-core Intel Core i5 running at 1.6 GHz, 8 GB of memory and 256 GB solid-state drive. The Spectre 13 outgunned the similarly-priced MacBook Air when it came to PCMark 7 performance.
That combination achieved a respectable mid-range score of 5006 points when running PCMark 7, compared to around 4200 points for the recently updated 13-inch MacBook Air.
The Home and Work suites on PCMark 8 didn’t fare quite so well, though, with scores of 2260 and 2651 points.
Gaming performance is poorer too, as the integrated HD Graphics 4400 couldn’t sustain decent framerates until we dropped resolution right down to 1280 x 720 pixels, where it then averaged a more a playable 31 fps in our Stalker: Call of Pripyat casual gaming test.
But, to be fair, there’s always a trade-off between performance and portability with Windows Ultrabooks such as this, and the Spectre 13 was still adequate for routine tasks such as web browsing and running Microsoft Office. Unfortunately, the other trade-off is reduced connectivity, with one pair of USB 3.0 ports and lack of ethernet. (See also: Surface Pro 3 vs MacBook Air comparison review .)
HP Spectre 13 review: battery life
However, the Spectre 13 compensated with usable battery life, giving us 7.5 hours (450 minutes) of streaming video via the BBC iPlayer, even if the 13-inch MacBook Air can manage over 12 hours here. (See also: 20 best budget laptops of 2014 .)
HP Spectre 13-3010ea: Specs
- 13.3-inch (1920 x 1080 pixel, 166 ppi) LCD display, glossy, touch-sensitive
- 1.6 GHz Intel Core i5-4200U (2.6 GHz Turbo)
- Intel HD Graphics 4400
- Windows 8.1 (64-bit)
- 8 GB DDR3L SDRAM
- 256 GB solid-state drive
- Bluetooth 4.0
- 1x HDMI 1.4
- 1x Mini DisplayPort 1.2
- 2 x USB 3.0
- SDXC card slot
- 1080p webcam/microphone
- 1x headphone/microphone socket
- 51 Wh lithium-ion battery
- 324 x 220 x 15 mm
- Benchmarks / Tech
- Buyers Guide
Review HP Spectre 13-3010eg Ultrabook
For the original German review, see here .
The HP Spectre 13-3010eg is a compact 13.3-inch subnotebook with a touchscreen and a Haswell CPU that complies with Intel's ultrabook specifications. HP's first ultrabook was released in early 2012, being called the HP Envy 14 Spectre . Currently, a number of ultrabooks are available from HP, all of them 13.3-inch devices, including our test device, some variants with Windows 8.1 Pro and different x2 models with a detachable display such as the HP Spectre 13-h205eg x2 which we have already reviewed. HP is not stating what its preferred customers are but we guess mobile business users might fancy the Spectre, especially those who are fond of prestigious work devices.
The Spectre has to compete against (among others) two 13.3-inch ultrabooks made by Acer and Asus, the Acer Aspire S7-392 , which is famed for its design as well as its QHD display (same resolution as our test device, also same Intel Core i7-4500U as well as 8 GB of RAM) and the Asus Zenbook UX302LA-C4003H with "just" 1920x1080 pixels and a slightly slower Intel Core i5-4200U . While HP includes a 256 GB SSD, the Acer laptop comes with a RAID-0 cluster of two 128 GB SSDs and the Asus device offers an ordinary HD (500 GB) plus 24 GB of flash storage. The Zenbook is the heaviest of these laptops followed by the HP and Acer. Coincidentally, their price points are inversely proportional to the weight of the devices: 1500 Euros, 1300 Euros and 1200 Euros (~$2029, $1758 and $1623) for the Acer, HP and Asus models, respectively.
Our in-depth review will show how well the HP Spectre truly fares in the real-life world, especially its display.
It is easy to see that the HP Spectre is not only a beautiful device with a sturdy chassis and great build quality , but it also comes with its own recognizable design language. Naturally, both its looks and the choice of colors is a matter of taste, but the shapes and nuances of the device are highly consistent with one another and carry over even down to the tiniest details. The resulting premium appearance also develops thanks to the dominant aluminum surfaces with the popular brushed metal finish. Unfortunately, both the rear part of the lid and the bottom panel of the base unit with their "truffle brown" finish are extremely prone to fingerprints .
The case is highly t orsion-resistant , as is (to a surprising degree!) the robust display lid , which can be opened, barely, with one hand. One has to apply a lot of pressure onto the rear part of the lid in order to cause image distortions on the panel in front. Shaking the half-opened ultrabook in the air lets the hinges give in a bit, but at least the lid does not wobble. The edges of the base unit are a bit too sharp in the eyes of our reviewer. This is quite a nuisance when carrying around the laptop without a case or sleeve, but it barely bothered us around the palm rest when typing. All in all, we were fond of the chassis - it certainly is worthy of such a high-priced device.
Due to the compact form factor (and not so much due to the available budget, we guess), the number and variety of ports have to remain limited. No old-fashioned VGA port can be found anywhere on the device, but a modern DisplayPort (Mini variant only) as well as one HDMI port (full-size variant) and two USB 3.0 ports are included. Luckily, in terms of ergonomics, all ports are close to the rear part of the device.
Cable-bound Ethernet is only possible via a USB-to-Ethernet adapter blocking one of the two USB ports, thus probably making it necessary to use an external USB hub. No docking station or port replicator is available.
The HP Spectre 13-3010eg only comes with wireless communication modules, but these all work exceptionally well thanks to the Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 7260 Wi-Fi module which includes not only the new IEEE 802.11ac Gigabit Wi-Fi standard but also Bluetooth 4.0 + HS. The Spectre is not only capable of communicating via the 2.4 GHz band, but also via the 5 GHz band, which might come in handy in densely populated areas or in buildings with offices belonging to several different companies.
Reception quality and signal strength are great, too. With two walls and 10 meters (~33 feet) in between the device and the Wi-Fi router, no decrease in download speeds could be noted. Even walking down the stairs, the laptop took longer to disconnect than most other devices that we have reviewed before it.
What, really? Next to a few pieces of paper (warranty information etc.), only a microfiber cloth is found within the box. No printed manual, no installation or recovery DVDs (or flash drives), not even a DisplayPort adapter (mini to full size) is included. That is disappointing, especially given the premium price of this laptop.
Normal users (who like to keep their warranty intact) will not be able to access the innards of the HP Spectre. No maintenance hatches have been included and a Torx screwdriver is required to remove the entire bottom panel.
HP offers two years of limited warranty plus pickup and return services. As usual, Care Packs can be purchased to improve upon this, both in terms of quality and concerning the time period.
The chiclet-style keyboard offers the same standard layout as most laptops - nice. It is easy to get accustomed to the few keys with double functionality. The missing "pause" button should not be an issue for most users. The amount of key travel is very short (leading to shallow, hard keystrokes and thus fatigue after prolonged typing sessions), as is often the case with such slim ultrabooks, but at least the pressure point is easy to determine. The mute and Wi-Fi keys come with their own status LEDs. The Fn keys are there for volume, brightness, etc (the standard layout) while the traditional function keys are activated by a simultaneous press on the Fn key - where a locking mechanism would not have hurt.
Nice: The F5 key is brightly illuminated when the keyboard backlighting is deactivated; reverting to the same brightness as all other keys once the backlighting gets turned on. The homogeneity of the backlighting is great, but unfortunately, the weak bluish light only improves upon the contrast of the keyboard labels when the lighting situation is very bad. We had few opportunities to thoroughly test the backlighting system during our review.
The ClickPad - called HP Control Zone - is quite unusual, being equipped with two roughened edge areas and a larger, smoother and somewhat brighter central area instead of coming with separate mouse keys. The basic idea here is that the touchpad does not register anything extremely close to its edge, making the inward swipe gestures which are typical for Windows 8 much easier to perform (and much harder to trigger involuntarily ). A short video made by HP illustrated this patented idea.
The touchpad is every bit as precise and great in terms of sliding properties as one might have expected from such a premium device. Gestures (for up to four fingers ) are recognized with high reliability. As can be seen by looking at the picture below, there is not much to configure. The mouse keys come with short travel, a crisp pressure point and great haptic as well as acoustic feedback.
The touchscreen is capable of recognizing up to 10 fingers at the same time - and quickly, precisely and extremely reliably so, differentiating itself from that of some of its competitors. The base unit is heavy enough to prevent the device from flipping over when using the touchscreen - it is rather the display hinge that gives in at some point. The glossy display is less prone to fingerprints than we would have expected, with the added bonus of the fingerprints being easy to rub off. It is possible that it uses a coating such as those e.g. on Apple's iPad (although these do vanish over time).
QHD may be one of the biggest upcoming marketing buzzwords, and our HP Spectre 13 is one of the first devices using it. QHD (not qHD, 960x540 pixels, a resolution some smartphones still use) means Quad HD, four times the pixels of a Standard HD ready screen with a 720p resolution. The resolution of 2560x1440 (aspect ratio of 16:9) leads to a very high pixel density of 221 ppi due to the 13.3-inch screen diagonal. Ultra HD, on the other hand, is four times the pixels of a Full HD screen (3840x2160 pixels, mainly employed in expensive TVs thus far).
Just to crunch the numbers: A similarly sized Full HD display offers 166 ppi. A human with 20/20 vision can discern up to 188 ppi from a distance of approximately 45 cm (~), less than what the HP Spectre offers. Based on this (superficial) argument, one could say that there is little extra benefit exceeding Full HD at this screen size. However, in reality, even downsampling to Full HD resolution (which does not seem to diminish image quality in a noticeable way) should lead to better image quality than that offered by traditional Full HD displays. This is because the higher resolution screen can reduce aliasing by a greater degree with its denser pixel count compared to a native Full HD panel. Then again, barely any video material exceeds Full HD at this point in time.
The IPS technology used here leads (once again) to great viewing angles and a high contrast ratio. Like almost all touch displays, the one embedded within the HP Spectre is of the glossy variety, with reflections being even worse than for many other such displays that we have tested before. Then again, in terms of sharpness, Philips' panel is almost unbeaten.
Unfortunately, the unusually high resolution leads to a number of problems, especially with legacy software . Some programs did not render correctly and some of our benchmarks only ran when we manually reduced the resolution to 1920x1080 pixels. Luckily, the ( preinstalled , free) update to Windows 8.1 improved the scaling functionality of Windows, and noticeably so, leading to fewer issues with too small screen elements and fonts on such a high-resolution display. Indie developers may also implement these new scaling features, as documented by Microsoft here .
* ... smaller is better
An average peak brightness of 331 cd/m² is a fine result, meaning that the HP Spectre can be used in most situations even though it comes with a glossy display. Both competitors are approximately on par with the Spectre. Not quite as nice: The brightness homogeneity levels are still okay, but nothing to write home about.
Low black levels of 0.31 cd/m² are measured, leading to deep blacks (with some minor-but-noticeable backlight bleeding near the upper and lower edges). The built-in IPS panel offers a great contrast ratio of approximately 1000:1, less than the stellar 1663:1 of the Acer Aspire S7-392 but more than the still-decent 619:1 of the Asus Zenbook UX302LA-C4003H .
Despite its IPS panel, the Spectre is not the perfect device for professional graphic artists and photographers, which require more than the 56% of the AdobeRGB color space (typical for IPS panels, including our two competitors) the Spectre offers. Unfortunately, the color deviations of the display of the Spectre are a lot worse than what we measured with its competitors, reaching average DeltaE values of 6 (Color Checker) to 8 (Grayscale) - just average for an IPS display.
Even on a cloudy day, the reflections are truly annoying when trying to use the HP Spectre " in the wild ", its high peak brightness notwithstanding. Care has to be taken to find a spot where neither the sky nor other light sources might produce reflections on the screen.
Truth be told, we have seen IPS displays with higher viewing angle stability. Although barely any color distortions do occur even under extremely narrow angles, a lot of brightness loss occurs, and more quickly so than on competing panels. While this may not be a crucial issue during actual usage scenarios, it is worth mentioning that it might be prudent not to change one's position when working e.g. in Lightroom in order to achieve consistent results.
The Core i7-4500U (2x 1.8 to 3.0 GHz, Hyperthreading, TDP of 15 Watts, Intel HD 4400) stems from Intel's most recent Haswell generation, which offers only marginal per-MHz improvements when compared to its predecessor generation (Ivy Bridge), but is much more power-efficient . As one might have gathered by looking at the "i7" moniker, the CPU is fast enough even for demanding tasks including video cutting. 8 GB of RAM should also be more than enough for the time being. The only potential bottleneck may be found in the lack of a dedicated graphics card since the onboard GPU (the Intel HD 4400 ) quickly reaches its limits, e.g. in demanding 3D games. As both the CPU benchmarks and the stress tests show, high GPU demand can greatly decrease the clock speed of the CPU since both have to make do with the rather lowly 15 Watts (TDP).
The Intel Core i7-4500U CPU with which the Spectre ships comes with a base clock speed of 1.8 GHz, a Turbo boost of up to 3.0 GHz if only one core is active and 2.7 GHz if both cores are turned on. The 22nm i7 CPU has a TDP of just 15 Watts, making it an ideal choice for mobility-oriented laptops sized 11.6 inches and above while offering (more than) sufficient performance levels even for demanding tasks such as Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 5 - which is included in the package. The onboard Intel HD 4400 GPU takes care of all graphics computations.
So much about theory. In reality, during our stress tests , it quickly becomes evident that HP has not quite managed to allow the CPU to live up to its true potential. While it is common that the CPU rarely reaches its 3.0 GHz Turbo Boost speed, it is a bit disappointing that even 2.7 GHz can only be held for prolonged periods of time by one of the two cores. The Cinebench R11.5 multi CPU benchmark yielded clock speeds of 2.3 to 2.6 GHz for both cores of the i7-4500U. Running the CPU stress test Prime95 with four parallel threads, only 2.3 to 2.4 GHz seems to be realistic. Then again, most (but not all) comparable laptops are neither much slower nor much faster. We truly brought the system to its knees when the GPU stress test FurMark was run in addition to Prime95, resulting in a CPU clock speed of 1.1 to 1.2 GHz and temperatures of 80 degrees Celsius (CPU; 176 degrees Fahrenheit) and 60 degrees (GPU; 140 Fahrenheit), respectively.
Accordingly, the Acer Aspire S7-392 - sporting the same CPU - yields approximately the same performance as our test device. Only the Asus Zenbook with its weaker Intel Core i5-4200U (2x 1.6 to 2.6 GHz, Hyperthreading, Intel HD Graphics 4400, TDP of 15 Watts) falls behind by 12% during the Cinebench R11.5 multi CPU benchmark. Luckily, no differences between the results while running on battery and those while being plugged in could be measured.
PCMark 7 and PCMark 8 are our tools of choice when it comes to measuring system performance levels. Unsurprisingly, the HP Spectre and the Acer Aspire S7-392 fare almost equally well, only during the productivity benchmark of PCMark 7 does the Acer take a hit (-23%). According to the System Storage measurements of both suites, the S7 can barely profit from its two-SSD-RAID-0 system. Then again, the synthetic AS SSD benchmark yields quite different results (more about that later). The Asus Zenbook takes the last spot in all regards due to its weaker CPU and the slower hard drive, although the difference may not actually be that noticeable in real life (except for system and program loading times, despite the SSD cache of the Zenbook).
From a gut standpoint, the write speed of the test device could barely be better. Boot times, opening even large programs - everything feels blazingly fast. When using Lightroom 5, for example, switching between different modules or reloading image information is a breeze.
As mentioned above, the Acer S7 profits a lot from its RAID-0 system made up of two SSDs during the synthetic AS SSD benchmark, but the System Storage results of PCMark 07 and PCMark 08 imply that not much of that might be felt in real life. The Zenbook , of course, fares far worse, even though its conventional HDD is augmented by an SSD cache. Given that it is indeed an SSD, the hard drive of the Spectre comes in somewhat below average when looking at the Read Score .
The integrated Intel HD 4400 GPU supports DirectX 11.1 , clocks in at 200 to 1100 MHz and shares the same memory with the two CPU cores. Unsurprisingly, our test device beat the Asus Zenbook with its somewhat weaker CPU and identical GPU (although with just up to 1000 MHz instead of 1100 MHz) by a slight margin in 3DMark (2013). Interestingly, though, the Acer S7 sometimes even fares worse than the Asus Zenbook, probably due to earlier or harsher throttling occurring there. After all, the Acer S7 has a reputation as being a quiet laptop, and you cannot have high performance without the accompanying noise and heat emissions. Also unsurprisingly, all three GPU scores come to lie close together during 3DMark 11 , with the Asus losing 11% during the CPU-intensive Physics benchmarks.
Few shading units, shared memory (albeit dual channel), 64-bit memory bus - all of this leads to subpar gaming performance. Shogun 2 only ran at minimum settings (definitely a driver issue) while almost all other games will voluntarily be run at such, as well as in a lowly XGA resolution. Dota 2 is the only exception, looking great even with medium settings and being playable (~40 fps , enough given the genre). Then again , such results are typical for an HD 4400 GPU, with our test device being neither especially fast nor slower than its competitors (see the chart below the game list). The throttling we measured during our stress test does not impact the Spectre's gaming performance.
The fan is quite ... well, unpredictable, getting fairly audible when we least expected it. There seemed to be only a few steps in between, with the loudest mode getting quite annoying ( while at least refraining from including even more annoying hissing noises). It should be taken into account that the slim form factor requires a number of compromises, which should not be quite as noticeable as during our benchmarks. The cooling system probably relies on a rapidly rotating fan with a small diameter, as there is simply not enough space for passive cooling elements (which can also be seen by the fact that the fan keeps spinning long after the laptop has been turned idle again).
Our measurements have shown that all three laptops reach approximately 30 dB ( A) while idle, but the Spectre is the loudest by 9 to 17% when put under medium or full load.
While idle or under medium, non-constant load, the case never gets exceedingly warm, but this changes once the device is put under full load, reaching up to 44 degrees Celsius (111.2 degrees Fahrenheit) right below the display, both on top and beneath the laptop. While this might be too much for some users, the temperature of the palm rest never exceeds a comfortable 31 degrees (87.8 Fahrenheit). The laptop should not be employed for demanding tasks while being used on the lap since all exhaust vents are located beneath the base unit. As mentioned in the "Processor" section, the CPU down-clocks to 1.1 to 1.2 GHz under maximum load of both the CPU and the GPU. No serious throttling-caused limitations can be noted during real-life usage.
All Spectre ultrabooks have shipped with Beats Audio sound systems, with Beats Electronics claiming to be the "leader of a revolution directed against mediocre sound". While our test device is not perfect, the results are indeed rather impressive, yielding surprisingly clear, natural, three-dimensional and dynamic sound, although the speakers are so tiny with barely any available resonance space. Even "true bass" can be had, although it is to be understood that not all extremely deep frequencies can be mapped 1:1.
We are not sure, however, whether the special ingredient is truly a set of high-quality speakers or whether the software makes all the difference. Deactivating Beats Audio almost instantly ruins the experience, with extremely washed-out sound. It may possibly be a combination of both factors. As can be seen on the right hand side, the Beats Audio settings menu offers a lot of customizability.
Unfortunately , the speakers are not powerful enough to fill large rooms up to 30 square meters (~323 sq ft) and prevent distortions and fluctuations in terms of volume at the same time, at least depending on the source material. Moreover, while the speakers may get louder on a hard reflecting surface (due to being aimed down), they also sound a bit tinnier then. We managed to get the best results when we put the laptop upside-down, on its lid, with the hinges being opened by up to 80 degrees so that the speakers are aimed at an angle (somewhat to the front and up).
Overall, the Beats Audio system offers great sound quality (both for videos and music), far ahead of most other laptops in the same price category. When connected to an external sound system , the Beats Audio software should be deactivated, however, since the Intel Lynx Point LP audio controller is more than up to the task.
Unpleasant and uneconomical : Even when turned off or put to sleep (standby), the HP Spectre 13-3010eg still draws 0.3 to 0.6 Watts of power, more than most laptops. When compared to other 13-inch devices, our test device turns out to be an average power consumer while idle or put under load.
Like its two ultrabook competitors, the HP Spectre offers long battery life, winning the fight by its 6:40 hours ( Wi -Fi test, Acer: -8%, Asus: -16%). Under full load, 2:12 hours are possible, still more than the two other devices (Acer: -12%, Asus: -21%). Different battery packs are not available, but this should not come as a surprise since the user would not be at liberty to install them.
While our Spectre may not be the cheapest ultrabook out there, it is well worth its asking price of around 1300 Euros (~$1758). Not content with being a compact, very slim ultrabook with decent battery life and more than enough performance reserves even for demanding (or future) applications, the HP ultrabook also comes with a sturdy chassis, great build quality and a stylish design with great attention to detail. The input devices (especially the innovative touchpad) are a great addition, as is Photoshop Lightroom 5 , which would actually cost around 100 Euros (~$135) if purchased separately. Still, possibly the best thing about the Spectre is its QHD IPS touchscreen which yields high maximum brightness, a great contrast ratio and sharp images.
It is not all roses, though. The uneven noise emissions of the fan, the somewhat sharp edges of the chassis and the less-than-ideal placement of the fan at the bottom of the device might be major disadvantages for some. The selection of ports is okay, given the compactness of the device.
Those who might be fond of an even better display (and all-quiet operation) might want to have a look at the Acer Aspire S7-392 . The Asus Zenbook UX302LA-C4003 is another good ultrabook (85% during our review) which can be had for 300 Euros (~$406) less than the HP Spectre while including many more accessories.
Similar devices from a different Manufacturer
Devices from a different Manufacturer and/or with a different CPU
More articles related to this device
What we like
Both the high-resolution display and the premium chassis.
What we'd like to see
Accessories such as adapters - why does a microfiber cloth have to be the highlight?
What surprises us
Great display? Check. Bundled with a free copy of the full version of the superb Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 5? Check. So why doesn't HP include a Lightroom DVD or a license sheet? At least, the program can be downloaded from Adobe's website, with the license key being accessible within the program itself.
Acer Aspire S7-392
Asus Zenbook UX302LA-C4003H
Lenovo ThinkPad X240
Toshiba Portégé Z30-A-12U
HP Spectre 13-3010eg - 2014-04-17 04/17/2014 v4 (old) Sven Kloevekorn
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HP Spectre 13 Ultrabook Review
Laptop mag verdict.
The HP Spectre 13t-3000 Ultrabook packs a user-friendly touchpad, strong performance and long battery life in a beautiful design.
Unique Control Zone touchpad
Snappy backlit keyboard
Long battery life
Bottom runs a bit warm
Why you can trust Laptop Mag Our expert reviewers spend hours testing and comparing products and services so you can choose the best for you. Find out more about how we test .
One of the chief complaints users have about Windows 8 is that its gesture controls aren't intuitive enough for first-time users. HP addresses that gripe head-on with the new Spectre 13t-3000 Ultrabook. Large areas on either side of the notebook's Control Zone touchpad make it easier to activate Windows 8's gesture-based Charms and Recent Apps menus. That's not all this $1,019 ultraportable has to offer, though. With the latest Intel Core i5 processor, a solid-state drive, beautiful 13-inch 1080p touch screen and a dead sexy design, the Spectre 13t is one of the best Ultrabooks money can buy.
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Click to Enlarge Like many of HP's Ultrabooks, the Spectre 13t-3000 features a gorgeous, all-aluminum chassis. For the Spectre 13t, however, HP has added some panache, throwing in a truffle-brown-colored, brushed lid and base that are offset nicely by the notebook's champagne, brushed-aluminum keyboard deck. In the center of the lid, a reflective bronze HP logo adds a touch of class.
Open up the notebook, and the first thing to catch your eye will be the Spectre 13t's oversized Control Zone Touchpad. Developed to make it easier than ever to use Windows 8 gestures, without having to reach up to the touch screen, Control Zone features a standard touchpad flanked on its left and right sides by areas specifically designed for interacting with Windows 8's Recent Apps and Charms menus. (More on this later.)
Measuring 12.8 x 8.7 x 0.59 inches and weighing a scant 3.3 pounds, the HP Spectre 13t is a hair thinner, though a bit heavier than the 13-inch MacBook Air (12.8 x 8.9 x 0.11 - 0.68 inches and 3 pounds). At 12.6 x 8.8 x 0.54 inches, Samsung 's ATIV Book 9 Plus is slightly smaller than both the Spectre 13t and Macbook Air, and weighs 3.2 pounds. Acer's Aspire S7 measures just 12.7 x 8.8 x 0.51 inches and weighs 3 pounds.
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Click to Enlarge The Spectre 13t sports a beautiful 13.3-inch, 1920 x 1080-resolution HP Infinity touch screen display that's far sharper than the $1,099 MacBook Air 's 1440 x 900 panel. The Acer Aspire S7 offers a 1920 x 1080, 13.3-inch display, while the $1,399 Samsung ATIV Book 9 Plus comes with a Retina-like 3200 x 1800 QHD+ screen. If you want to shell out an extra $70, however, you can equip your Spectre 13t with an HP Vivid QHD Infinity display (2560 x 1440 pixels).
A trailer for "X-Men: Days of Future Past" looked considerably better when viewed on the Spectre 13t's 1080p display than it did on the MacBook Air. Fine lines in characters' faces were sharper on the HP, and colors appeared warmer. Skin tones also looked more natural, and blacks looked endlessly deep on the Spectre 13t. The MacBook Air's display looked washed out by comparison. Similarly, a high-definition image of a lush mountain landscape looked far greener and sharper on the HP.
With a display brightness of 254 lux, the HP Spectre 13t's screen barely outshined the ultraportable laptop category average of 249 lux, and was neck and neck with the Samsung ATIV Book 9 Plus (251 lux). The MacBook Air's display topped out at 263 lux, while the Acer Aspire S7 hit an impressive 329 lux.
The Spectre 13t's touch screen proved accurate and responsive during our time with the notebook.
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Click to Enlarge As with many of HP's more-premium notebooks, the Spectre 13t-3000 comes loaded with the impressive Beats Audio software. Jay-Z and Kanye West's bass-heavy "No Church in the Wild" sounded excellent as it thumped through the Spectre's bottom-mounted speakers. We noted a similar experience while listening to Coheed and Cambria's "Mothers of Men," as guitar squeals and symbol crashes filled our conference room.
Switch off Beats, however, and audio sounds muddled. In fact, at one point, it sounded like we were listening to a smartphone rather than a laptop. So just keep Beats on. On the LAPTOP Audio Test, the Spectre 13 pumped out a steady 84 dB at a distance of 23 inches. That's just above the category average of 83 dB.
Click to Enlarge The HP Spectre 13t's keyboard provided consistently solid feedback throughout our testing. We experienced a good amount of travel and little to no flex. We're also fans of the keyboard's beautiful white backlighting, which evenly illuminated each key.
On the Ten Thumbs Typing Tutor test, we typed at a rate of 79 words per minute with a 1 percent error rate, about equal to our personal average. Our one gripe with the keyboard is the small size of its directional keys, which made navigating a bit of a chore.
Control Zone Touchpad
Click to Enlarge Using Windows 8 gestures via a notebook's touchpad can be a pain. The pad's small size limits space for swiping in from the left or right, making accessing the Charms and Recent Apps menus frustrating. To address this issue, HP and Synaptics equipped the Spectre 13t with a Control Zone touchpad. Despite its name, it's essentially a normal touchpad with two visually and tactilely distinctive wings on either side. It's designed to make using Windows 8 gestures more intuitive.
Performing gestures on the Control Zone is no different than it would be on a standard notebook. Users swipe in from the right to open the Charms menu, while a swipe in from the left opens the Recent Apps menu. In testing, however, HP said it found that the wings helped users more easily recognize how to use Windows 8 gestures. From a practicality standpoint, it makes more sense to direct users to the touchpad, rather than forcing them to use the touch screen exclusively or expecting them to know, without prompting, that they can use the touchpad for the same gestures.
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Click to Enlarge Control Zone offers more than not just improved usability. When you open the Charms menu, for example, you can now simply slide your finger up or down the right control zone to select the icon you want to open. Without this feature, you'd have to open the Charms menu, then move your cursor to the icon you want. It's a small, but welcome improvement.
Adding the Control Zones to the touchpad dramatically increased its size, to a whopping 5.5 x 2.6 inches. With such a large space between the user and keyboard, we figured we'd accidentally move the cursor more often. To prevent this, HP and Synaptic wisely chose to disable the cursor in the Control Zones. As a result, we noticed little to no issues with palm rejection during our time with the notebook.
Overall, we liked the larger touchpad and its enhanced functionality. Even Windows 8 veterans will appreciate how much easier it is to use gestures with the Control Zone compared to a standard touchpad.
Ports and Webcam
Click to Enlarge As with many Ultrabooks, the Spectre 13t-3000 keeps ports to a minimum. On the right side, you get a single USB 3.0 port, full-size HDMI port, mini DisplayPort and power jack. On the left side is a second USB 3.0 port, combination microphone/ headphone jack, 2-in-1 SD Card slot and lock slot. Don't expect Ethernet or VGA.
The Spectre 13t's 720p webcam provided acceptable stills and video. Colors were accurate, and while we noticed some blurring, the lines in our shirt were still easy to make out.
The Spectre 13t proved itself to be a cool customer during our LAPTOP Heat Test (streaming a full-screen Hulu video for 15 minutes) reaching just 84 degrees Fahrenheit on the touchpad. The space between the G and H keys hit 94 degrees, falling just below our comfort threshold of 95 degrees. The bottom of the notebook, however, reached a somewhat toasty 99 degrees.
Click to Enlarge With a 1.6-GHz dual-core Intel Core i5-4200U processor, 4GB of RAM and 128GB solid-state drive, the Spectre 13t is a lightweight speed demon. We opened multiple tabs in both Chrome and Internet Explorer, streamed music from Spotify and watched Netflix without any slowdown.
On the Geekbench 3 benchmark, the Spectre 13t scored 6,436. That's better than the Intel 1.3-GHz Core i5-4250U-powered MacBook Air 13-inch's score of 6,267, and well above the ultraportable category average of 4,559. The Samsung ATIV Book 9 Plus, which packs the same processor as the Spectre 13t, scored a lower 4,150.
The Spectre 13t performed equally well on the PCMark 7 benchmark, hitting 4,806 and easily besting the ultraportable category average of 3,927. The ATIV Book 9 Plus pulled ahead of the HP with a score of 5,017, but the Acer Aspire S7 was higher still, with a score of 5,051.
Thanks to its 128GB solid-state drive, the Spectre 13t booted Windows 8.1 in just 10 seconds. The Acer Aspire S7 was one second faster, while the ATIV Book 9 Plus was a second slower.
The Spectre's SSD also helped it transfer files at a breakneck pace, moving 4.97GB of mixed media files in just 32 seconds. That equals a rate of 159 MBps, which is faster than the category average of 111 MBps, as well as the Acer Aspire S7's 113 MBps and Samsung ATIV Book 9 Plus' 127 MBps. That said, the MacBook Air handily beat all three notebooks with its impressive transfer rate of 242 MBps.
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During the OpenOffice SpreadSheet Macro, the Spectre 13t matched 20,000 names to their corresponding addresses in 5 minutes and 30 seconds. The average ultraportable takes 6:40, while the MacBook Air 13-inch took 5:33. The ATIV Book 9 Plus was a bit quicker, at 5:13. Once again, though, the Aspire S7 took the crown, with a time of 5:12.
Click to Enlarge With its Intel HD Graphics 4400 integrated graphics chip, the HP Spectre 13t is primed for watching HD videos and playing basic Windows 8 games, but don't expect to run something like "Call of Duty." On the 3DMark 11 benchmark, the Spectre 13t pulled down a score of 943, while the Samsung ATIV Book 9 Plus scored a respectable 913, and the Aspire S7 scored 895. All three laptops easily beat the ultraportable category average of 713.
While playing "World of Warcraft," the HP Spectre 13t delivered an average of 28 frames per second with the graphics set to auto detect and resolution at 1366 x 768. That's not quite playable. The Acer Aspire S7 averaged 39 fps at the same resolution, while the ATIV Book 9 Plus hit 46 fps. The MacBook Air averaged 45 frames per second with the resolution set to 1300 x 812.
Thanks to its 4-cell battery and low-voltage, fourth-generation Intel Core i5 processor, the Spectre will last you all day, and you won't have to worry about finding an outlet. On the LAPTOP Battery Test, which involves continuous Web surfing over Wi-Fi with the display brightness set to 40 percent, the Spectre 13t lasted an impressive 9 hours and 4 minutes. That blows away the ultraportable notebook category average of 6:35. This runtime also surpasses the Samsung ATIV Book 9 Plus' 8:06 and Acer Aspire S7's 8:53. The MacBook Air 13-inch, however, ran for a marathon 11:40.
Software and Warranty
Click to Enlarge HP went relatively light on the software load for the Spectre 13t, which is a good thing. You get the standard array of Windows 8.1 apps, including the new Bing Food & Drink and Health & Fitness apps and Microsoft Office Home and Student.
The heavy hitter here is the included Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 5. Regularly priced at $149, the software lets you adjust, enhance and organize your digital photos with ease. Unfortunately, unlike HP's older Envy notebooks, the Spectre 13t doesn't come with Photoshop Elements or Premiere Elements.
HP provides customers with a one-year limited hardware warranty. See how HP fared in our Tech Support Showdown and Best & Worst Brand Report .
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The Spectre 13t starts at $999. At that price, consumers get a 1.6-GHz dual-core Intel Core i5-4200U processor, 4GB of RAM, a 128GB solid state drive and a 1080p display. The Smart Buy configuration, which costs $1,229 after a mail-in rebate, has the same processor, but 8GB of RAM, a 256GB SSD and a 2560 x 1440-pixel screen.
Consumers can also customize the starting model with up to an Intel Core i7-4500U processor ($195), 8GB of RAM, a 256GB SSD ($150) and the 2560 x 1440 display ($70). Additionally, you can outfit the Spectre 13 with 802.11ac Wi-Fi, a $20 option.
HP Spectre vs. the Competition
Click to Enlarge In some ways, the Spectre 13 surpasses the likes of Apple's $1,099 13-inch MacBook Air, offering a sharper and more vivid screen along with touch capability. However, the Air lasts much longer on a charge and boasts faster flash memory.
Samsung's $1,399 ATIV Book 9 Plus has a sharper display, but you can configure the HP with a higher-res panel, too. And the Spectre 13 offers a better keyboard. The Aspire S7 ($1,399), an Editors' Choice pick, is lighter and slimmer than the HP and offers faster performance, but it also costs $380 more.
Click to Enlarge HP's $1,019 Spectre 13t-3000 has everything you want in an Ultrabook: a sleek design, fast performance and long battery life. And while you can always use the full HD touchscreen to navigate Windows 8.1, HP gives you an excellent alternative with its Control Zone touchpad. We also like this ultraportable's keyboard and sound quality. The only complaint we have is that the bottom of the Spectre 13 runs a tad warm. Overall, the HP Spectre 13 is a superior Windows 8 Ultrabook.
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HP Spectre 13 Ultrabook review: a good deal, but with trade-offs
It's already March, dear readers, which means with the exception of this post right here, you're not going to find many laptop reviews on this site. Why? Because Intel's just three months away from launching its next-generation chips and besides, we've reviewed most of the current-gen models anyway. But not HP's. We haven't reviewed a Hewlett-Packard Ultrabook in more than a year . So here we are, picking up where we left off. The company's newest flagship, the Spectre 13 , has a metal-clad body, much like the older models we've tested, except it steps up to an optional 2,560 x 1,440 display and an extra-wide touchpad designed to make all those Windows 8 gestures easier to pull off. It also starts at $1,000, making it a good deal cheaper than most of the other models we'll be name-checking throughout the review. So does that make it a good deal?
Gallery: HP Spectre 13 Ultrabook review | 23 Photos
Hp spectre 13.
- Attractive design
- Fast performance
- Good specs for the money
- Bright display
- Generous warranty, Adobe Lightroom included gratis
- Heavy for a 13-inch Ultrabook
- Middling battery life, especially considering the heft
- Trackpad needs a driver update
- Shallow keys have an occasionally "sticky" feel
Look and feel
When the Spectre 13 Ultrabook first launched late last year, a company rep told me that the laptop takes design cues from other luxury items -- namely, expensive cars. As much as that sounds like marketing hooey, it turned out to be a pretty smart strategy on HP's part: The brown lid, metal keyboard and champagne-colored chassis make the machine look... expensive. To be fair, the build quality helps too -- the palm rest doesn't flex or bend when you hold it in one hand and, thanks to a strong hinge, the screen doesn't wobble when you touch it. I also appreciate how clean the bottom side looks, right down to the metallic accents surrounding the rubber feet. (Of course, a clean underside means the parts aren't user-replaceable, but that's par for the course for Ultrabooks.) Really, my only complaint is that the brushed-metal lid picks up scratches too easily, but then again, the same thing can be said of the MacBook Air.
Actually, I do have a second complaint: At 3.34 pounds, the Spectre 13 is actually on the heavy side for an Ultrabook. Case in point: The Lenovo Yoga 2 Pro and Samsung ATIV Book 9 Plus both come in at 3.06 pounds, while some models, like the Acer Aspire S7 and Sony VAIO Pro 13 , come in well under the three-pound mark. All that said, it won't break your back to put it in a bag -- I even got away with using a leather tote. Also, for what it's worth, the cut of the laptop at least makes it comfortable to hold; the wide, blunt edges leave lots of room for your fingers, and the chamfered hinge is also easy to grip. Speaking of those wide edges, the Spectre 13, as hefty as it is, does make room for a good selection of ports. These include two USB 3.0 connections, a full-sized HDMI socket, Mini DisplayPort and an SD card reader, along with the requisite headphone jack and power connector.
Though the Spectre 13 is available with a 2,560 x 1,440 display, we tested it out with the standard 1,920 x 1,080 option. Even with the lower (but not "low") resolution, it's still a lovely screen. The viewing angles are wide enough that I was able to watch many a Netflix movie from all sorts of angles -- head-on, from off to the side, lying on the couch, dim light, fluorescent light. The Spectre 13's display thrives in most any environment, and the colors are nice and punchy too (but don't worry, not too punchy).
Keyboard and trackpad
The kindest thing I can say about the Spectre 13's keyboard is that I ultimately got used to it. Well, mostly anyway. Even now, after weeks of use, I still frequently have to go back and correct a typo, because my key presses didn't register the first time around. It's a shame because the buttons are well-spaced and easy to find without taking my eyes off the screen. And yet, between the shallow pitch and lack of bounce, it's quite possible you'll find someting something you wrote has a letter or two missing.
If you're like me, you'll adjust your typing style over time without even really thinking about it, but even then, you'll make some annoying mistakes. For most people, the layout here will be fine, especially since Ultrabooks by definition tend to have flat, space-saving keyboards. But if typing is of the utmost importance, you can still do better (might I suggest the new ThinkPad X1 Carbon ?).
Unfortunately, I can't be nearly as charitable about the touchpad. Which is ironic in a way, because the trackpad, with its so-called touch zones, was actually designed to reduce erroneous clicks. Here's my problem: The main surface has way too much resistance, so that if I want to do something like scroll or pinch to zoom, I have to go out of my way to apply pressure with my fingers. I'd rather I didn't have to think about it at all. What's worse is that even when I do think about it, the touchpad doesn't always respond the way I want it to; oftentimes, I either used the touchscreen to scroll through web pages, or (carefully) dragged my cursor to the arrows along the side of the screen. Not an ideal situation.
And what of those clearly marked touch zones? They do a good job of separating the "Windows 8 gesture" areas from the "regular touchpad areas," so that you know exactly where to swipe if you want to expose the Charms bar or cycle through open apps. The thing is, most other touchpads do this just fine, even without an obvious line separating the main touch surface from the edges. Rather than solve a problem that doesn't exist, we'd rather HP issue a driver update to ensure the touchpad works properly.
After using the Spectre 13 for weeks, I can assure you that the Spectre 13's performance never calls attention to itself. And that's a good thing. Throughout, as I was writing stories, streaming Netflix and Pandora, juggling browser tabs and talking in HipChat, I had no problem opening apps and switching from one program to another. The fast 10-second startup time is also easy to get used to, perhaps because almost every Ultrabook these days can cold-boot in a similar time. If anything, the biggest thing holding me back from getting work done was that flaky trackpad, but I, of course, won't lay that at Intel's feet.
As it turns out, too, that brisk performance wasn't just a figment of my imagination: The Spectre 13 bests most of its Ultrabook peers, even those that have the same dual-core Core i5-4200U processor. In particular, you've gotta hand it to the Liteon solid-state drive, which achieves not just category-standard read speeds of 527 MB/s, but also write speeds as high as 327 MB/s. Big improvement over the SSDs in most of the other Ultrabooks we've tested.
To say the Spectre 13 has "middling" battery life would be like saying a fourth-place Olympic skier is "slow." The truth is, with eight and half hours of continuous video playback, according to our tests, it does rank somewhere in the middle as far as new Ultrabooks go. Sure, it's no MacBook Air, which lasts nearly 13 hours on a charge. Then again, we've tested a handful of other models capable of eight to 8.5 hours, so at the very least, the Spectre 13 finds itself in good company.
Besides, doesn't eight and a half hours count as "all-day battery life" for lots of people? We think it does, especially if you expect to be near an outlet for at least part of that time. And if eight hours isn't enough, the sad truth is that most Haswell-based Ultrabooks won't last longer than that anyway. And most "regular" notebooks won't last longer than an Ultrabook, at least not without the help of a secondary battery. So even if you do need more runtime, this is very nearly the best you can do.
Though HP didn't pre-load the Spectre 13 with much extra software, what's there calls a little too much attention to itself. I'm mainly referring to McAfee LiveSafe, which constantly greets you with pop-ups when you boot up and go to the desktop for the first time. The good news? HP at least threw in a year of McAfee service, as opposed to just 30 days, so you can at least get some use out of the app for a good while after you purchase the laptop. In addition, HP also included Adobe Lightroom 5 (nice!), Box, HP Connected Music and HP Support Assistant.
The Spectre 13 starts at $1,000 with a dual-core Core i5-4200U processor, 4GB of RAM, a 128GB SSD, 1,920 x 1,080 display and 802.11n WiFi. Basically, then, for a thousand bucks you're getting specs that a year ago would cost you as much as $1,400. What's more, even the base model includes a two-year warranty -- about twice the coverage you'd get on most any other consumer PC.
Of course, no one's stopping you from spending $1,400 if you do indeed want cutting-edge components. This year, that means a dual-core Core i7-4500U processor, 8GB of RAM, 256GB of storage, a 2,560 x 1,440 screen and a faster 802.11ac wireless radio. With all the trimmings, you're looking at a price of $1,435, not including extras like Microsoft Office.
We've already name-checked most of the Spectre 13's main rivals, but it's worth circling back to talk about what makes each of them a potentially good (or not-so-good) buy. Perhaps its most direct competitors are the Lenovo Yoga 2 Pro ($899-plus) and Samsung ATIV Book 9 Plus ($1,400 and up), both of which weigh about a quarter of a pound less and come standard with 3,200 x 1,800 screens -- likely the same one, actually. If anything, the Yoga 2 Pro will win you over with its convertible design, which lets you use it as a notebook, tablet and in "Stand" or "Tent" mode, with the keyboard tucked out of the way. Our big caveat there is that the battery only lasts 6.5 hours, making it one of the shortest-running Ultrabooks we've tested lately. The ATIV Book 9 Plus, meanwhile, delivers almost identical battery life to the Spectre 13, but again, weighs a lot less. Point, Samsung.
Meanwhile, you might also want to check out the 2.34-pound Sony VAIO Pro 13 ($1,250-plus), the lightest laptop in its class. Despite its pin-thin frame, it manages to match the Spectre 13 in battery life. Similarly, the 2.87-pound Acer Aspire S7 ($1,350-plus) ekes out some respectable runtime, even if it's not quite as long as the Spectre 13's. Word to the wise, though: We're betting that if you get the Acer Aspire S7 with a 2,560 x 1,440 display instead of the 1080p panel we tested, the battery life will probably dip.
Finally, we have two oldies. One is the Dell XPS 12 ($1,000-plus), which came out in 2012, but has since been refreshed with Haswell processors, NFC and a bigger battery. In short, we like it a lot. Finally, there's the Toshiba Kirabook . Though it was one of the first Ultrabooks to rock a 2,560 x 1,440 display, we ultimately panned it because it launched at $1,600 with already-old processors. Now that it's been refreshed with Haswell processors, you can surely expect longer battery life. But man, that $1,500 starting price still stings.
It's easy for us to give the Spectre 13 a good review, but that's partly because the price is so reasonable. Were this priced in line with its peers, we'd have a harder time forgiving its flaky trackpad, sticky keyboard and relatively heavy weight. As it stands, though, it offers an attractive design, fast performance, a bright display and a generous two-year warranty, all for a relatively low $1,000. For the money, you can get used to the keyboard, and the slightly heavy design won't kill you, either (though we still think there should be a bigger battery inside). Assuming HP can come through with a much-needed touchpad update, the Spectre 13 is a solid, if imperfect, choice.
Edgar Alvarez and Daniel Orren contributed to this review.
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HP - Compaq Spectre 13-3010la Ultrabook RAM & SSD Upgrades
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Belarusian nuclear power plant gets nuclear fuel for first refueling
MINSK, 18 June (BelTA) – The incoming inspection of the fresh nuclear fuel Russia has delivered for the first scheduled refueling of the first unit of the Belarusian nuclear power plant has been finished. Before the fuel rod arrays have to be inserted into the reactor, all of them will be stored in the fresh nuclear fuel storage facility, the press service of the Russian state nuclear industry corporation Rosatom told BelTA.
It is the first batch of fuel made for the Belarusian nuclear power plant by MSZ Machinery Manufacturing Plant based in Elektrostal, Moscow Oblast, Russia. The enterprise is part of Rosatom's TVEL Fuel Company. The fuel meant to start both units of the Belarusian nuclear power plant was made by Novosibirsk Chemical Concentrates Plant (NCCP).
TVEL Fuel Company Senior Vice President for Production Mikhail Zarubin said: “Both fabrication plants of the company have mastered the production of fuel for VVER-1200 reactors. It allows us to be flexible with fabrication plans and improves the reliability of fuel supply for these power-generating units. At present five VVER-1200 units are in commission and their number will grow as Rosatom implements more and more overseas projects.”
The design strategy for using fuel in VVER-1200 reactors of the Belarusian nuclear power plant envisages a four-year fuel cycle with one refueling every 12 months during a scheduled preventive maintenance. The initial fuel charge and the first refueling of every unit is part of the general contract on building the Belarusian nuclear power plant (Rosatom's engineering division ASE is the supplier). Shipments of fresh fuel via a direct contract between TVEL Fuel Company and the state enterprise Belarusian Nuclear Power Plant will begin in 2022.
The incoming inspection of the initial fuel charge for the second unit of the Belarusian nuclear power plant was successfully finished in spring 2021. The fuel was made by Novosibirsk Chemical Concentrates Plant.
MSZ Machinery Manufacturing Plant is one of the world's largest manufacturers of fuel for nuclear power plants. The enterprise makes nuclear fuel assemblies for VVER-440, VVER-1000, RBMK-1000, BN-600, 800, VK-50, EGP-6 reactors as well as powder and fuel pellets for foreign customers. The enterprise also makes nuclear fuel for research reactors. MSZ Machinery Manufacturing Plant is part of TVEL Fuel Company of the Russian state corporation Rosatom.
TVEL Fuel Company comprises enterprises that fabricate nuclear fuel, take care of uranium conversion and enrichment, and make gas centrifuges as well as R&D and design organizations. TVEL Fuel Company is the only supplier of nuclear fuel for Russian nuclear power plants. It provides fuel to a total of 75 power-producing reactors in 15 countries, research reactors in nine countries, and transport reactors of the Russian nuclear fleet. Every sixth power-producing reactor in the world uses fuel made by TVEL Fuel Company. Rosatom's fuel division is the world's largest producer of enriched uranium.
Rosatom Starts Production of Rare-Earth Magnets for Wind Power Generation
TVEL Fuel Company of Rosatom has started gradual localization of rare-earth magnets manufacturing for wind power plants generators. The first sets of magnets have been manufactured and shipped to the customer.
In total, the contract between Elemash Magnit LLC (an enterprise of TVEL Fuel Company of Rosatom in Elektrostal, Moscow region) and Red Wind B.V. (a joint venture of NovaWind JSC and the Dutch company Lagerwey) foresees manufacturing and supply over 200 sets of magnets. One set is designed to produce one power generator.
“The project includes gradual localization of magnets manufacturing in Russia, decreasing dependence on imports. We consider production of magnets as a promising sector for TVEL’s metallurgical business development. In this regard, our company does have the relevant research and technological expertise for creation of Russia’s first large-scale full cycle production of permanent rare-earth magnets,” commented Natalia Nikipelova, President of TVEL JSC.
“NovaWind, as the nuclear industry integrator for wind power projects, not only made-up an efficient supply chain, but also contributed to the development of inter-divisional cooperation and new expertise of Rosatom enterprises. TVEL has mastered a unique technology for the production of magnets for wind turbine generators. These technologies will be undoubtedly in demand in other areas as well,” noted Alexander Korchagin, Director General of NovaWind JSC.
TVEL Fuel Company of Rosatom incorporates enterprises for the fabrication of nuclear fuel, conversion and enrichment of uranium, production of gas centrifuges, as well as research and design organizations. It is the only supplier of nuclear fuel for Russian nuclear power plants. TVEL Fuel Company of Rosatom provides nuclear fuel for 73 power reactors in 13 countries worldwide, research reactors in eight countries, as well as transport reactors of the Russian nuclear fleet. Every sixth power reactor in the world operates on fuel manufactured by TVEL. www.tvel.ru
NovaWind JSC is a division of Rosatom; its primary objective is to consolidate the State Corporation's efforts in advanced segments and technological platforms of the electric power sector. The company was founded in 2017. NovaWind consolidates all of the Rosatom’s wind energy assets – from design and construction to power engineering and operation of wind farms.
Overall, by 2023, enterprises operating under the management of NovaWind JSC, will install 1 GW of wind farms. http://novawind.ru
Elemash Magnit LLC is a subsidiary of Kovrov Mechanical Plant (an enterprise of the TVEL Fuel Company of Rosatom) and its main supplier of magnets for production of gas centrifuges. The company also produces magnets for other industries, in particular, for the automotive
industry. The production facilities of Elemash Magnit LLC are located in the city of Elektrostal, Moscow Region, at the site of Elemash Machine-Building Plant (a nuclear fuel fabrication facility of TVEL Fuel Company).
Rosatom is a global actor on the world’s nuclear technology market. Its leading edge stems from a number of competitive strengths, one of which is assets and competences at hand in all nuclear segments. Rosatom incorporates companies from all stages of the technological chain, such as uranium mining and enrichment, nuclear fuel fabrication, equipment manufacture and engineering, operation of nuclear power plants, and management of spent nuclear fuel and nuclear waste. Nowadays, Rosatom brings together about 350 enterprises and organizations with the workforce above 250 K. https://rosatom.ru/en/
U.S. Added Less New Wind Power in 2021 Than the Previous Year — Here’s Why
Japan Looks To Become Leader In Wind Energy
GE Renewable Energy signs strategic partnership agreement with Hyundai Electric to support the growth of offshore wind in South Korea
RWE Becomes a Top Tier Renewable Energy Company in the United States
Shell-EDF Joint Venture Submits Bid in New Jersey's Third Offshore Wind Solicitation
MingYang Signs MoU for UK Manufacturing
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