This is a classy laptop that currently ranks as my favourite convertible ultrabook.
Like the Lenovo Yoga from which it clearly draws inspiration, the Spectre has a 360-degree hinge that lets it switch between laptop and tablet modes.
But the Spectre's hinge is not as thick as those of other convertibles. Hence, the laptop stays relatively slim for a convertible - the best clamshell ultrabooks are still thinner.
Instead of the usual HP logo, the lid is a plain, rigid piece of aluminium with raised letters that spell "Hewlett-Packard". As branding efforts go, it feels classy.
The wedge-shaped aluminium chassis feels solid. But it is not a unibody design. The base depresses slightly under pressure. You can even remove it with a star-shaped Torx screwdriver.
As the Spectre weighs 1.44kg, it is not very practical to wield it like a tablet. In short, treat the extra usage modes enabled by the 360-degree hinge as bonus features that may be handy in niche situations.
If you do use it as a slate, note that the keyboard - now at the back of the device - will be automatically disabled.
The keys are also recessed, so you do not have to worry about damaging them when you place the keyboard face down on a desk. However, you will find it difficult to avoid pressing the keys when gripping the Spectre in tablet mode.
The keyboard feels mushy when pressed. Key travel is decent enough. But the silver finish of the key caps makes it difficult to distinguish the letters when the backlight is on.
The touchpad is wider than usual. This is probably a relic from the older Spectre 13, where the sides of the touchpad replicate Windows 8's edge-swipe gestures. There is no such functionality on the new Spectre - you just get more room.
Next to a volume rocker at the side is the power button. This location is easy to reach, even when you use the Spectre as a tablet.
HP has also placed a physical button at the side for the Windows logo function instead of the usual capacitive touch version.
As expected from a premium laptop, the touchscreen has a 2,560 x 1,440-pixel screen resolution.
An outer layer of glass gives it a glossy, reflective appearance. Viewing angles on this in-plane switching display are impeccable. It is a beautiful, bright and vivid display.
With an Intel Core i7 chip, 8GB of RAM and a 256GB solid-state drive, the Spectre matches its closest rivals on paper. In other words, its performance does not really stand out from its competitors'.
The biggest letdown is in battery life. Despite having one of the larger batteries among the Ultrabooks, the Spectre lasted just 6h 10min in our video-loop battery test.
This classy laptop does not come cheap, but it looks great.
Battery life 4/5
This article was first published on Apr 22, 2015.
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