HP Spectre 13 Ultrabook review: A slim laptop that gives you more touch pad

Connections, performance, and battery
With two video outputs, the Spectre 13 already has a leg up on most other ultrabooks. There are only two USB ports, but the Wi-Fi is of the faster 802.11ac variety, as in the latest MacBooks (note, however that 802.11ac is a $20 optional upgrade).

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With a fairly common Intel Core i5-4200U processor, this system offers no real performance surprises. Apps ran smoothly, and switching between multiple Web browser windows, video playback, and other tasks was stutter-free. This sort of mainstream-level performance is more than enough for most users. If you plan on editing HD video or playing serious PC games, you may want to look for a larger laptop with a discrete video card.

An ultrabook lives or dies based on its battery life. In this case, the HP Spectre 13 lives up to the hype, running for an impressive 8 hours and 38 minutes in our video playback battery drain test. That's not quite the lofty level of a MacBook Air, but it's still more than enough for a typical workday, depending on your workload.

Conclusion
The HP Spectre 13 is built around a gimmick, an extra-wide touch pad with control zones that offer some (very limited) extra Windows 8 functionality. Interestingly, the gimmick is entirely unnecessary, as the Spectre 13 is excellent in its own right.

There's nothing especially ground-breaking here, but each individual component and feature is top-notch, including the backlit keyboard, large touch pad, bright display, and long battery life. For a starting price of $999.99 (I'd add the 802.11ac Wi-Fi and the higher-res display for about another $100), you get a very solid laptop, with no deal-breaking flaws, at a very reasonable price.

QuickTime and iTunes multimedia multitasking test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)

Adobe Photoshop CS5 image-processing test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)

Apple iTunes encoding test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)

HandBrake multimedia multitasking test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)

Video playback battery drain test (in minutes)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)

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System configurations

HP Spectre 13
Windows 8 (64-bit); 1.6GHz Intel Core i5-4200U; 4GB DDR3 SDRAM 1,600MHz; 1,792MB (shared) Intel HD Graphics 4400; 128GB LiteOn-IT SSD

Samsung Ativ Book 9 Plus
Windows 8 (64-bit); 1.6GHz Intel Core i5-4200U; 4GB DDR3 SDRAM 1,600MHz; 1,749MB (shared) Intel HD Graphics 4400; 128GB SSD

MacBook Air (13-inch, 2013)
OSX 10.8.4 Mountain Lion; 1.3GHz Intel Core i5-4240U; 4GB DDR3 SDRAM 1,600MHz; 1,024MB (Shared) Intel HD Graphics 4000; 128GB Apple SSD

Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 2 Pro
Windows 8.1 (64.bit); 1.6GHZ Intel Core i5-4200U; 4GB DDR3 SDRAM 1,600MHz; 1,792MB (shared) Intel HD 4400 Graphics; 128GB Samsung SSD

Dell XPS 11
Windows 8.1 (64-bit); 1.5GHz Intel Core i5-4210Y; 4GGB DDR3 SDRAM 1,600MHz, 1,792MB (shared) Intel HD Graphics 4200; 256GB Samsung SSD

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Where to Buy See all prices

HP Spectre 13t-3000 Ultrabook

Part Number: E5J34AV
MSRP: $999.99 Low Price: $949.99 See all prices

Quick Specifications See All

  • Weight 3.07 mg
  • Installed Size 4 GB
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