GADGET WATCH: HP Envy 14 Spectre

This year has already seen a multitude of ultrabooks hit the shelves – high powered, thin laptops that are easy to carry around and can do more than the traditional notebook. Taking a lot of influence from the MacBook Air, these are the next generation of portables.

Every manufacturer has thrown their hat into the ring for this one, but HP seems to have delivered a solid entry here. Can it stand up to the pack and offer something new to the business user?

Hardware and features

The Envy 14 measures just 12.8 inches wide, 8.7 inches deep and only 0.79 inches thick, and weighs only 3.79 pounds.

Coming packed with Windows 7, the device features a 14-inch screen at 1600 x 900 resolution, with the entire device powered by a dual-core Core i5 processor.

The device comes with 4GB of RAM, a base drive of 128GB and an HDMI port. It also features a mini-display port as well, which is standard on devices such as this.

The Envy 14 also comes with a variety of contactless technologies including WiFi, Bluetooth and NFC.

What’s the consensus?

First thing’s first – the Envy 14 is a very nice looking device. Over at TechRadar, the publication has noted the Gorilla Glass lid with a slick finish, giving the gadget a very professional and classy feel.

The backlit-keyboard is also a nice finish, and as the publication notes, is still extremely comfortable.

“A neat trick is the ability of the keyboard to sense your proximity, and dim itself when you move away from the laptop, saving power.”

At TrustedReviews, the publication has praised the appearance, along with the screen itself, saying it has “superb viewing angles”, although noted this suffered from contrast shift.

Back at TechRadar, there’s a lot of praise for the gadget’s audio technology, which is perhaps one of the device’s biggest drawcards.

The Beats audio tech allows users to work with the audio performance, working with noise effects such as echo and reverberation. This is a device for audio enthusiasts, if they’re really keen on controlling the entire audio experience.

However, there are some disadvantages here. The publication noted the speed wasn’t the best it’s seen in a laptop, and the trackpad had some problems as well.

“It was responsive enough when moving the cursor, but the integrated mouse buttons were a pain to use. We appreciate the nicer look of integrated buttons, but the irritation of repeated clicks to select and execute slightly tarnishes the overall experience.”

TrustedReviews agreed, and also noted that it would have liked some more response from the keys.

“One strange decision – and one taken for aesthetic reasons only – is a very noticeable step down between the glass-covered palmrest and keyboard and its surround. While not something which is a complete disaster, it does seem a little pointless.”

It also noted the option of an 128GB SSD, but said this wasn’t very much seeing the device is being marketed as a media laptop.

Who’s it for?

This is a really nice device. It’s great for handling media, and the audio tech installed will be a dream for music enthusiasts. Certainly it appears to be easy to use and master.

But as a business laptop, this one falls just a little short. It’s slightly bulkier than competitors, and although light to carry, is still a little bit awkward.

It’s a quality piece of hardware, but if you’re looking for something dedicated to business you can just pick up and carry, you may want to look at something like a Dell or a Toshiba device.

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