The HP Envy 14 Spectre is the latest laptop with a design out of left field.
HP Envy 14 Spectre (2012)
The design, while unique, is most notable for its use of Corning's scratch-resistant Gorilla Glass not only on the edge-to-edge display, but also covering the entire back of the lid, as well as the wrist rest. On top of that, it's one of the very first 14-inch ultrabooks, although it's a bit thicker and heavier than the ultrabook name would lead you to expect. It's practical, while still being fun to use and fun to show off, and its glass-covered construction makes it feel just a little like an artifact from the near future.
The most surprising and revolutionary feature of the Razer Blade is its Switchblade user interface, which consists of a touch pad that doubles as a second LCD screen, and 10 customizable LED buttons above it. It may take some getting used to, however, as the touch pad/screen is moved off to the right side, rather than its usual spot in the middle of the wrist rest.
The high-concept feature that sets the Iconia apart is actually two: two 14-inch touch screens. Instead of a screen and a keyboard, the Iconia ditches the keyboard for a second screen, which can be used either as an extended desktop or for a virtual keyboard. Unlike a lot of other unique proof-of-concept laptops, the Acer Iconia is fun to use and largely works as advertised (but we're still not sure why anyone would need a dual-touch-screen laptop).
The Adamo XPS opens in an unusual way, with the lid shut tight until you swipe a finger on a heat-sensitive strip centered on the front edge. Then the lid lifts up, tilting the screen back and lifting the keyboard on its unusual inset hinge. As a work of technological art, the Adamo XPS was a real conversation-starter, but a poor battery kept it from being terribly useful.
Unlike traditional convertible tablets, which have screens that rotate 180 degrees horizontally, the Inspiron Duo's screen flipped 180 degrees vertically, with its hinge anchored right in the middle of the left and right sides of the screen bezel. When flipped into tablet mode, the screen switched to a custom touch interface, but the low-power Netbook-level components kept the performance too slow to be useful.
Pushing the physical boundaries of the laptop form, the massive HP Pavilion HDX weighed an amazing 15.5 pounds and had a desktop-size 20-inch LCD (all for only $3,000). It was so big, it required a special design that put the screen at the end of a heavy-duty arm, hinged at both the rear of the laptop and the back of the screen.