HP Spectre 13t-3000 Ultrabook review: A slim laptop that gives you more touch pad

Ports and connectionsHP Spectre 13 ultrabook
Video HDMI and Mini DisplayPort
Audio Stereo speakers, combo headphone/microphone jack
Data 2 USB 3.0, SD card reader
Networking Ethernet, 802.11ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth
Optical drive None

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).

HP_Spectre_13_Ultrabook_35827864_05.jpg
Sarah Tew/CNET

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)

MacBook Air (13-inch, 2013)
211
Samsung Ativ Book Plus
438
HP Spectre 13
439
Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 2 Pro
444
Dell XPS 11
626

Note:

Shorter bars indicate better performance

Adobe Photoshop CS5 image-processing test (in seconds)

MacBook Air (13-inch, 2013)
333
Samsung Ativ Book Plus
248
HP Spectre 13
261
Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 2 Pro
302
Dell XPS 11
341

Note:

Shorter bars indicate better performance

Apple iTunes encoding test

MacBook Air (13-inch, 2013)
82
Samsung Ativ Book Plus
119
HP Spectre 13
120
Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 2 Pro
121
Dell XPS 11
167

Note:

Shorter bars indicate better performance

Handbrake multimedia multitasking test (in seconds)

MacBook Air (13-inch, 2013)
532
Samsung Ativ Book Plus
506
HP Spectre 13
476
Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 2 Pro
391
Dell XPS 11
751

Note:

Shorter bars indicate better performance

Video playback battery drain test (in minutes)

MacBook Air (13-inch, 2013)
865
Samsung Ativ Book Plus
509
HP Spectre 13
518
Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 2 Pro
430
Dell XPS 11
350

Note:

Longer bars indicate better performance

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Find out more about how we test laptops.

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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