HP Envy 14 Spectre is a glassy ultrabook

The HP Envy Spectre 14 makes a spectacle of itself by coming swathed in toughened glass. Inside, it's business as usual.

HP's first ultrabook effort is the Envy 14 Spectre -- a sleek-looking machine that, unusually, is covered in glass.

There's been a whole mess of ultrabooks dropping on our heads recently from the Intel pigeons, with seemingly every manufacturer bringing out its own take on the thin-yet-powerful genre. To keep its head above the guano, HP has made the entire outside of the lid, the screen and the wrist rest out of glass.

It's a bold move. "Have you seen the new HP Spectre?" "Oh yeah, that's the glass one," is just one conversation we totally imagine really taking place. If you think a glass laptop might be somewhat fragile, fear not -- HP has used Gorilla Glass, which is toughened and extremely resistant to scratches.

Even so, we still worry that a decent tumble to a solid floor would see that glass roof shatter like Momma Crave's best china, although to be fair, most laptops wouldn't come off too well from a fall like that. It looks pretty smart though and gives off a rather premium whiff, reminding us slightly of the glass-fronted iPhone 4.

Inside it's business as usual for an ultrabook, with Intel Core processors available along with a 128GB SSD drive, with an option to add a second if you're short on storage but rich on cash. In typical HP fashion it comes bearing the Beats Audio label, promising better (read: bassier) sound. There's also an analogue wheel on the side for quick changes to the volume level.

The 14-inch display offers a resolution of 1,600x900 pixels, which is par for the course -- we wouldn't have entertained anything less, but it would have been nice to see the first Full HD display in an ultrabook. Our buddies over in the States got a look at the screen and found it extremely bright and clear, so it bodes well for playing your movies.

One unusual feature is near-field communications (NFC), which allows two compatible devices to share information simply touching. We've been hearing a lot about NFC in mobile phones, but this is the first we've seen of it in a laptop. There's no real word on what exactly it will be used for, but we're hoping instant, wireless transfer of photos from cameras and phones will be on the cards.

There's no word on UK pricing or availability yet, but the Core i5 entry-level model with 4GB of RAM will land in the States in February for a not-insubstantial $1,399 (around £900). Make sure to keep it CNET UK for all the best tech news and head over to our CES site for the latest from Las Vegas.

Image credit: CNET.com

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