You know something’s special when it goes by a single name. So like Madonna and Bono, HP’s Spectre is one of a kind. Measuring just 0.4 inches thick (10.4mm) and weighing only 2.45 pounds, the 13.3-inch Spectre is the slimmest laptop ever made. Available for preorder April 25th (on HP.com and Best Buy) and starting at $1,169, this slim black-and-copper system looks like a very strong competitor to the 12-inch MacBook and Dell XPS 13.
Just reading about the size, it’s hard to get a grip on how thin this laptop actually is, but after getting a chance to check one out at a preview event in New York City, I’m happy to say this Spectre is one of the best looking laptops ever made.
The Spectre thrashes every other notebook in terms of thinness, and with components including a full HD screen, Intel Core i5 or i7 CPU, 8GB of RAM and up to 512GB of SSD storage, it’s no slouch in the specs department either. And unlike the 12-inch Macbook, HP found room for not one, but three USB Type-C ports on the Spectre's superthin body, two of which support Thunderbolt 3.
From the Spectre’s CNC-machined aluminum lid to its carbon fiber bottom, HP found a multitude of ways to tack premium design cues onto its flagship laptop -- starting with something as simple as the logo. The new minimalist design found on the lid and below the screen is a new look for HP, and will be the company’s signature logo for its premium PCs going forward. While the hand-polished copper in back is great to look at, it’s a real fingerprint magnet.
Due to the Spectre’s extreme thinness, HP had to create new piston-powered hinges to hold its display in place. The typical hinges HP uses on its other notebooks were simply too big and too weak to use on the Spectre, so HP’s engineers borrowed designs from the types of hinges carpenters use on furniture for the Spectre's clasps.
HP also had to create what it calls a hyperbaric cooling chamber, since the company refused to compromise by putting a slower, but fan-less, Core m chip in the Spectre. The chamber consists of two superslim fans pulling cool air across the entire motherboard and spitting it out the back, so that the Spectre won’t get too hot during use.
To get to 0.4 inches thick, HP also had to reduce the Spectre’s key travel from a standard 1.5mm to just 1.3mm. But because the company paid close attention to the pressure needed to push down on the keys from top to bottom, the Spectre’s keys felt crisp and snappy, and not at all like a concession.
Like all high-end HP laptops, you get Bang and Olufsen tuned speakers that on the Spectre are thoughtfully positioned on either side of the keyboard instead of on its sides or bottom.
There are still a few trade-offs you’re going to have to deal with on the Spectre. Aside from its three USB-C ports, the only other connection is for a headphone/mic jack. Furthermore, every port is located on the back of the notebook, so it can be a little annoying to connect a peripheral.
Despite being super bright, the Spectre’s 13.3-inch display doesn’t have a touchscreen option, and definitely doesn’t live up to HP’s claims of featuring an edge-to-edge design. The Dell XPS 13's Infinity display is truly edge to edge.
The Spectre’s battery life is rated by HP at 9.75 hours. That sounds good, but we'll have to see how well this ultraportable stand up to our battery test. The 13-inch Spectre x360 is rated for 12 hours but actually lasted for 8 hours and 25 minutes of web surfing over Wi-Fi when we tested it.
HP is also auctioning off some lavish custom-designed Spectres by Tord Boontje and Jess Hannah featuring a delicate laser-cut pattern, Swarovski crystals and 18 karat gold plating. All proceeds will go to the Nelson Mandela Foundation, but if you want to put in a bid, you’ll need to head over to the Cannes Film Festival in May.
Overall, the HP Spectre is one of the most exciting ultraportables we've seen this year and and starting at $1,169, it looks like a great value when compared to Apple's $1,299 Macbook. And if it's battery life doesn't disappoint, it could even give our current favorite laptop -- the Dell XPS 13 -- a run for its money. Check back with Laptop Mag for a full review, which should be ready sometime early next week.