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  • warisz00r - Saturday, August 25, 2012 - link

    Can't wait for you guys to review the X1 Carbon. Reply
  • barry spock - Saturday, August 25, 2012 - link

    me too. what I've read it seems the best match head to head with the MB air. Reply
  • ananduser - Saturday, August 25, 2012 - link

    The MBA "fails"(relatively speaking) under Windows. So the comparison is moot. Reply
  • Braumin - Sunday, August 26, 2012 - link

    I second this! I don't know what you need to do in order to get Lenovo laptops, but please add them to your list! The X1 Carbon looks amazing. Reply
  • Dustin Sklavos - Sunday, August 26, 2012 - link

    Don't hold your breath. Reply
  • crimson117 - Monday, August 27, 2012 - link

    Why - does Lenovo not bother to send out review units? Reply
  • AssBall - Saturday, August 25, 2012 - link

    ... but the batter life pretty much a joke for the price. Why even bother with ultra-light if you can't carry it everywhere without bringing the cord. Reply
  • ImSpartacus - Saturday, August 25, 2012 - link

    I know. If battery life isn't there, literally nothing else matters.

    Reviews of the X1 kept mentioning that rapid charge battery tech, but I just don't care since the battery life is DOA.

    These are mobile devices. Battery life matters.
  • RamarC - Saturday, August 25, 2012 - link

    Yup. Battery life is definitely top 2 factor. Otherwise you'll have to fight a martial arts chick over the plug! Reply
  • mtoma - Saturday, August 25, 2012 - link

    According to HP, Wikipedia and Intel specifications, Spectre should be an 14 inch Ultrabook. It has mSata drives, ULV processor, the right dimmensions. I see some Samsung and Lenovo models with 14 inch displays, which are .. a little bit heavier and bulkier, but are classified as Ultrabooks.
    Because of that, it seems odd for me that Dustin has opted to compare HP Spectre with other regular notebooks.
  • JarredWalton - Saturday, August 25, 2012 - link

    There are only three non-Ultrabooks in the charts: the VAIO Z2 (which is practically an Ultrabook other than the CPU), and the M11x and W110ER; those two represent gaming in a smallish chassis and are worth showing just for those looking for more performance. If we didn't compare with anything other than Ultrabooks, it would be difficult for some people to put the performance into perspective. Reply
  • MrSpadge - Saturday, August 25, 2012 - link

    Agreed - better to have a few more comparison points than having less. Reply
  • EnzoFX - Saturday, August 25, 2012 - link

    The way I look at it, if you're going with portable, and it's going to have intel IGP, and it's going to be around 1k or more, then what's the point in not going with a Macbook Air? It'll prob be thinner and lighter, have a better battery life... etc. just overall better build quality. You can install Win if you so choose to. Reply
  • von Krupp - Saturday, August 25, 2012 - link

    Principle is one reason. Some just really have a strong dislike for Apple, me included., and would rather not throw money their way if they can avoid doing so

    The other is that when running Windows on an Apple system, you lose the benefit of marathon battery life, take a small performance hit because of Bootcamp, and have to suffer some driver quirkiness that you have no control over (track-pad usage comes to mind).

    That's why.
  • xype - Saturday, August 25, 2012 - link

    Bootcamp performance hit? How so? Reply
  • Penti - Saturday, August 25, 2012 - link

    Bootcamp itself doesn't introduce a performance hit, it's largely driver and some BIOS-emulation layer oddities that does that. Including loosing Nvidia optimus, ACPI-support, AHCI and lots of little flaws. It means shorter battery life, worse performance. Still isn't useless though. But buy a Mac for OS X primarily as you don't get away from it even if you do run Bootcamp. If your never running it, it is largely a waste. Don't mean it's worse then another choice though even if running Win. Reply
  • vision33r - Monday, August 27, 2012 - link

    Bootcamp is nothing more than a software script to make a NTFS partition bootable and passthru Apple's EFI Bios. That's it, there's no BIOS emulation.

    Any Macs running Bootcamp is the same as any PC running Windows.

    If you put a sticker over the Apple badge, you'll be amazed that no other PC maker can beat Apple hardware at the same price.
  • Penti - Monday, August 27, 2012 - link

    There is a BIOS emulation layer in the EFI firmware just like on your HP or whatever. Most UEFI computers still boot into BIOS compatibility mode. Which means it's a compatibility layer on top of UEFI that does re-implement and emulate the BIOS. It doesn't exist there by default. It doesn't have the same compatibility as a normal PC though. Bootcamp is obviously a component of it when your on a Mac to help you set it all up. Bootcamp also delivers the Windows drivers. So it's certainly something that plays a huge role. Compatibility, features and drivers do differ here, not to say it makes them bad but you certainly loose out on ACPI, Switchable graphics (Optimus) and AHCI as well as other firmware/driver stuff. The BIOS emulation it self is obviously in the EFI firmware. Reply
  • Jeff Bellin - Tuesday, September 04, 2012 - link

    The biggest "performance" hit to the MBA running Bootcamp/Windows is in battery life. It is nearly half (4:12 according to The Verge, Endgadget) running Windows in Bootcamp vs. over 7 running OSX. This to me takes it out of the running as an Ultrabook substitute for those looking to run Windows. The general lack of driver support - especially for the trackpad, which is now worse running Windows than the best of the Windows UBs - finally - can do on their own. Still a lovely and well built machine, but not advisable if the sole/main purpose is to run Windows. The Samsung S9 and Asus UX/Zenbook series, among others, are better options as, IMO, is the Envy Spectre 14 reviewed here - even if battery life is not much better, HP is a Windows notebook supplier and drivers will be maintained - plus I'm a total sucker for the design! Reply
  • bji - Saturday, August 25, 2012 - link

    You have no idea how ironic your post sounds to someone who lived through computing in the 90's. The idea that buying a Microsoft operating system instead of an Apple one is an act of principle is just hard to swallow. Reply
  • rarson - Sunday, August 26, 2012 - link

    I lived through computing in the '90s, and I don't think it sounds ironic at all. Apple's operating systems suck, in my opinion. Reply
  • Old_Fogie_Late_Bloomer - Saturday, August 25, 2012 - link

    To heck with Apple, why would you buy this instead of a Thinkpad T430? For a pound more and hundreds of dollars less you get a 1600x900 screen that ISN'T covered with a shiny sheet of glass, Windows 7 Pro, Optimus graphics (with halfway decent performance), more USB ports...I mean, I could go on, but I guess I just don't understand this lightweight, super-thin business. It's already a 14" laptop. They just aren't THAT heavy.

    I also don't get why you'd want a sheet of glass in front of your screen, but I'll let that go.
  • ImSpartacus - Saturday, August 25, 2012 - link

    The T series is full of beautiful and functional machines, but they aren't for everyone. It's hard to argue that ultraportables don't have a place in the market.

    Also as a note, the T430's 5400M is kinda mediocre. Perhaps better than its integrated competitors, but not THAT great compared to more modern consumer dGPUs like the Kepler 640M.
  • Old_Fogie_Late_Bloomer - Saturday, August 25, 2012 - link

    I'm not saying ultraportables don't have a place in the market, I'm just saying I don't understand why people would pay the premium to get them. Don't get me wrong, I love small computers. I went from 1366x768 at 13.3" to 1366x768 at 11.6" to 1600x900 at 14.0" and I think I've finally arrived at the perfect compromise of size and screen real estate. I just can't imagine that I'd ever be willing to pay 50% more to get a laptop that in most metrics is inferior, just to save a pound in weight.

    Oh, and don't get me wrong; I didn't mean that I thought the T430 had a great GPU...believe me, I didn't get it for gaming (I have a desktop for that). But it's a decided improvement over the Nvidia GPU in predecessor--about twice as good--which puts it in the category of being able to play most games at lower detail settings. It's also appreciably better than Intel's offering, and is one more argument of the T430 over an ultrabook like this.
  • Dug - Saturday, August 25, 2012 - link

    Because it's lighter, has a better screen, thunderbolt, better keyboard, better trackpad, better case, SSD, better power adapter, etc.

    The screen is not a sheet of glass. You are thinking of a Macbook pro.

    We deliver both of these models at work, and no one has complained about the Macbook Air. The Lenovo on the other hand has a bad keyboard, bad camera, bad screen, bad design.
    Not saying its a bad computer, but as a business user, it doesn't compare.

    The screen on the Lenovo's is so bad people have returned them to get a Macbook Air. The color gamut and off screen viewing is horrible.
  • Old_Fogie_Late_Bloomer - Saturday, August 25, 2012 - link

    I was comparing the ThinkPad to this HP laptop, but okay, we can play. :-P Yes, the Air is lighter. But it's screen is glossy, which (in my opinion) completely obviates any other advantages it might have with regards to contrast ratio and color gamut. Yes, it has Thunderbolt, which will matter in a couple of years, but honestly, isn't that important at the moment. I don't know what the heck you're talking about with regards to the keyboard and trackpad, because both are top-notch on the T430.

    Your "better case" comment is similarly fatuous. Are you seriously going to tell me that the Air is more durable than a ThinkPad? As for the SSD issue, you can buy a T430 and an 256GB SSD, install it yourself, and still have a system that's basically superior in every way (except arguably weight) to the 256GB 13" Air, for less money.

    "The screen is not a sheet of glass. You are thinking of a Macbook pro." No, actually, I was thinking of the HP Envy 14 Spectre, which clearly has a sheet of glass in front of the display. That's the comparison that I was (obviously) making.

    "The Lenovo on the other hand has a bad keyboard, bad camera, bad screen, bad design." You have seriously got to be kidding me. The keyboard and overall design are great. The screen may not have the highest contrast or color gamut, but it's still matte, which (again, in my opinion) makes it superior to the Air screen. The only thing I can't really speak to is the camera, because I did get one, but I don't really care THAT much about it, as long as it's there.

    "The screen on the Lenovo's is so bad people have returned them to get a Macbook Air. The color gamut and off screen viewing is horrible." Yeah, no, I'm sorry. You're not gonna convince me that one or two people trading a ThinkPad for a Mac is some kind of sweeping condemnation of the LCD panel in the former. I get that people's tastes in computers vary. I get that some people like Macs, and that's okay. But a lot of what you wrote is--let's be frank--misleading nonsense.
  • Jeff Bellin - Tuesday, September 04, 2012 - link

    I'm continually confused by the automatic disqualification of a screen that is glossy when there are so many choices of very high quality "screen protectors" that very effectively turn a glossy screen into various levels and types of matter properties. I've used several and they all work very well, though it takes some doing to find the right version of protector to gain the matte finish you seek. Advice: go for a bit less matte than you might prefer: the semi-matte finishes on, say the Sony Z series have excellent contrast and color fidelity and there is less loss of brightness, and two heavy a matte "filter" may bring a "screen door" effect that is highly undesirable. The semi-matte/semi gloss filters will do the job of eliminating that mirror effect of high gloss screens and otherwise do little to impede the qualities of the base screen.

    Can we get over the disqualification of all glossy screens? (which I would be with 100% if these "workarounds" were not so easy and cheap to obtain.)
  • beisat - Saturday, August 25, 2012 - link

    Personally, i'm quite glad that these producers are understanding the elegance of thin, high quality products - but I really can't blame Apple for sueing about designs like this. Looking at the picture on the first page, this thing looking soooo much like a macbook pro it's scary. Reply
  • kmmatney - Saturday, August 25, 2012 - link

    I thought that's what the whole "ultrabook" thing is all about - making Macbook Air machines for Windows. The trouble is is that they are also trying to sell these at Mac prices... Reply
  • xype - Saturday, August 25, 2012 - link

    The trouble is that Apple’s prices are competitive. If you have only 5 laptop models in total you get your margins increased by sheer volume already; no PC hardware manufacturer will sell anywhere close to Apple’s numbers of a specific model.

    And the Ultrabook was about the specs, not about the look of the devices. Have a look at the Lenovo X1 (ArsTechnica has a review)—that at least is something that I can consider an alternative when people ask me what to buy. The rest? Why not buy a Mac directly, if you want an aluminium "Ultrabook"?
  • ImSpartacus - Saturday, August 25, 2012 - link

    That's because good ultrabooks inherently demand "Mac prices."

    It's funny when PC OEMs try to make an Apple-like product and the price ends up similar to the Apple counterpart. When you stop shoving nice specs into a box, and actually care about the box, your BoM goes up. Keyboards, LCDs, and batteries aren't cheap.

    There IS a markup on Apple products, but it's not as large as people think it is.
  • ananduser - Saturday, August 25, 2012 - link

    It's selective. Markup is more evident on POS devices like the MBP 13". Reply
  • damianrobertjones - Saturday, August 25, 2012 - link

    Apple were not the first to make a thin laptop or to use the chiclet type keyboard Reply
  • ImSpartacus - Saturday, August 25, 2012 - link

    But they did it best. Others have caught up since, but it took a while. Reply
  • ananduser - Saturday, August 25, 2012 - link

    That's debatable. Reply
  • bobsmith1492 - Saturday, August 25, 2012 - link

    "HP also includes a volume dial on the right side of the notebook, but I'm sorry to say this is not an analog volume dial. Oddly enough it seems to have its poles crossed, too; scrolling towards you turns volume up, while scrolling away turns it down."

    You can change the direction of the knob in the "Beats" control panel.
  • Voldenuit - Saturday, August 25, 2012 - link

    It's a rectangle with rounded edges!

    Get them quick before Apple sues hp for patent infringement and gets an injunction to have them removed from the market...
  • Penti - Saturday, August 25, 2012 - link

    They lost the iPad trade dress and design patent claims against the Galaxy Tab and Galaxy Tab 10.1 which don't infringe any of it so I'm sure a company that made slates back in 1992/3 and tablets back in last year with the same damn screen as iPad is fine today. They won on specific claims of the '381 patent claim 19, '915 patent claim 8 and '163 patent claim 50. Those include the patents who has been called after the features i.e. bounce back, one finger to scroll & pinch to zoom and lastly tap to zoom patents and only those patents where infringed when it comes to none design registration stuff. Which is weak to say the least. Several of the patents where issued after the products where released which would at least under US law mean you can't date back any damages before that point, but I have no idea how the jury came up with the numbers or why the judge thought it could be awarded damage that way.

    All the patents is essentially none-technical not forming any invention or use. Basically all stuff that according to EU law doesn't fit the criterion to be patented in the first place. No hard patents sure isn't a huge win. It's more ridiculous then Samsungs counterclaims. Also I'm not sure why a LG P970 would be scot free if SGS isn't. It's at least as much in similar shape and size i.e. visually as the SGS if not more so. Plus tablets if free when it comes to design claims and trade dress so there is no stopping. That this is all Apple has to fight with speaks to the fact that they got nothing and will loose the fight in the end. Samsung, LG, HTC, Nokia, Sony, Motorola, RIM etc got way more real and recognized patents in this field. If you put all that together I'm sure '915, '163 and '386 will get demolished plus they have no reason to care outside the US market where those patents isn't valid to begin with. While they might have patents stopping Apple products there instead. Apple and the competitors is just creating unnecessary work for themselves and only the lawyers are laughing.
  • Focher - Saturday, August 25, 2012 - link

    LG devices weren't covered by the lawsuit because - well - they aren't Samsung devices.

    As for the judge and that damages calculation, the jury instructions - including the damages calculation - were negotiated between Apple and Samsung. The judge just approved them at the end.

    It's true that the decision in the case doesn't apply outside the USA, but there's no doubt Samsung cares about the decision's impact on the US market.
  • Penti - Sunday, August 26, 2012 - link

    I do blame both sides. I don't blame Samsung for their design though, side by side there is no mistake to be made while I'll dislike the cheaper Galaxy line and TouchWiz it has more to do with the divergence from standard theme and phone looks. On the higher end and updates to their software/theme it has certainly got better in both looks and performance.

    I do see it as a blow of course but it comes down on all players. For Samsung in the US though they are still free to sell SGS3, Galaxy Tab etc as those where not in the case or where freed on design claims if they just remove stuff like bounce back in the UI. Apple might think it's fine to get damages from patents that weren't issued at the time but in the end it will hurt them too. If the trade dress holds up on the phones though they would have no problem going after everybody else in other lawsuits. It's not like these features is worth the amount Apple is claiming even if it where real stuff plus when it comes to Apple overseas is still their biggest market. The claim that Google knew that this would happen because "Samsung was copying them" and warned them is also bogus when Nexus products where also effected (not by design patents though) and Nexus 7 looks way more like a small iPad then Galaxy Tab ever has.

    Nexus S (4G) deemed infringe on two of the utility patents ('381, '915) was awarded 1,828,297 USD and freed on '163, that is for the Sprint Nexus S phone. Nexus S the original version it self was launched before '163 where issued. Nexus One for example where launched before both '163 and '915 where issued. Hardly much to come with, a change in the gesture features would make those products ok which just mean it's ok to have the bounce back effect in Canada but not over the border. Doesn't give much credence to Apples claim of 30-100 dollar per devices for licensing 2-3 patents either. If they where prepared to license it at some point why not force them today? It would be like 1 dollar per device. Max. As you could obviously get away from the iPhone trade dress despite having an all glass front and rounded corners. Not sure why they would go after SGS2 and not Nexus S though on design claims. Any way they are quite desperate when they claim a Sony Tablet S is an example of an design which don't infringe their design and trade dress which they lost against Samsung when their argument was that it was just with rounded corners on one side of the device. It looks way more similar then the Galaxy Tab series despite that.

    Let's see what happens to those old products, newer ones generally differentiates more in shape and sizes thanks to them being built around larger displays. Might be a heavy fine, and mean more ridiculous lawsuits, but products will still be there. It basically all resolves around a none-technical patent on UI, judged by an jury which you could circumvent by using alternative methods. I'm not to concerned about trade dress claims, basically only the original iPhone design patent and iPhone 3G design where protectable not combinations. It's laughable that Galaxy Ace where freed on all accounts concerning design and awarded no damages while SGS and SGS2 where found infringing. It's otherwise what I would say the most similar looking device. Size, shape, style all off it. It's off putting, but apparently ok.
  • sirizak - Saturday, August 25, 2012 - link

    Seriously pretty machine...

    Why plaster bloody stickers on it? Why have we not moved on from this yet?

    Honestly even Joe Bloggs (I'm Aussie, ie. John Smith) reads specs, we know its Intel based( 2 intel stickers...), we know it runs Windows. Yes they are an unobtrusive grey, but I think that's worse. If you don't want me to notice them, don't stick them on the bloody thing in the first place...
  • ImSpartacus - Saturday, August 25, 2012 - link

    "Joe Bloggs" is the Australian. "John Smith"?! That's sweet. Reply
  • Dug - Saturday, August 25, 2012 - link

    No kidding. But that just shows the typical marketing idiots at work compared to Apple's marketing.

    The same guys that want stickers on everything, want glossy black bezels and palm rests.
  • ggathagan - Monday, August 27, 2012 - link

    As I recall, those stickers are part of the pricing deal from the respective manufacturers. If they weren't put on the computer, the price would be higher.
    If that is true, I'm OK with having to peel off stickers.
  • Beenthere - Saturday, August 25, 2012 - link

    If they can sell this crap they can sell sand to the Arabs. You'd have to be braindead to buy an Ultrabook, but if that's what makes you happy, jump in. Reply
  • kyuu - Saturday, August 25, 2012 - link

    I'm not a fan of this particular model, but the notion that have a preference for well-designed, thinner & lighter mobile devices and being willing to pay a small premium for it somehow reflects on a person's intellect is ridiculous.

    'Course, there are plenty of well-designed, thin & light models that don't quite qualify as an Ultrabook to look at as well (I'm looking at the Gigabyte U2442N myself).
  • Beenthere - Saturday, August 25, 2012 - link

    The premise for the "Ultrabook" is a low performance, shiny object that has an inflated price. These toys are for folks lacking in intellect. That is precisely why Intel has not been able to con most folks into buying them even with huge financial incentives to the toy makers.

    There are tons of better laptop choices at much lower prices that meet the needs on 99.9999999999975316% of consumers. This is why "ultra-Jokes" ain't selling.

    For those who chose bling over value and/or performance, then yes their intellect most certainly would be in question.
  • bji - Saturday, August 25, 2012 - link

    The only intellect I question is the one who can't fathom why someone else would want a product that they themselves don't. It's called personal preference. Everyone has one and it's fairly moronic to claim that your judgement about what people need or wants trumps their own. Reply
  • netmann - Saturday, August 25, 2012 - link

    Dustin, can the mSATA SSDs be configured in RAID? Reply
  • Penti - Saturday, August 25, 2012 - link

    It looks fairly decent when it comes to specs and features, it does have some I think are quite essential once you pass 900-1000 dollars which is DisplayPort, high-res screen and ethernet, but things like having two mSATA SSDs (as it doesn't really give them any space) and fairly small battery gives a lot of minus points. For about the same money you get a Dell XPS 14 with Ivy, 8GB ram, 512GB SSD, 1600x900 14" screen and GT 630M discrete graphics. Only 155 dollar difference to how yours is configured. As this Spectre is 1949 with 8GB ram, i7 processor and 256GB SSD I'm not too tempted.

    Sure I might would have wanted to see the Dell XPS 14 ultrabook with SSDs in the lower ends and more configurable, but that only adds to the criticism that the HP looks worse despite that. Of course if you just want a high-res screen then you got Asus, Samsung Series 7 14 , Series 9 13.3 with HD+ etc as cheaper options. NP700Z3C-S02US is spec'd at Core i5, 14" 1600x900 display, 6GB ram, HD4000/GT 630M, USB3 and Ethernet plus 750GB hdd for 999 at the "Microsoft store". No DisplayPort but possibly a Ultrabook that should have come with a SSD. Most options aren't really sensible though.

    Still finding lots of problems, good I'm not looking for one right now :) Spending 2000 dollars just to get high-res display and SSD seems excessive.
  • Beenthere - Saturday, August 25, 2012 - link

    HP is going to be out of Biz before long the way they are going. They are so confused they don't even know if they are in or our of the PC Biz. Reply
  • ggathagan - Monday, August 27, 2012 - link

    The idea of HP getting out of the PC business was pushed by a CEO (Leo Apotheker) that was fired the month after he spewed that nonsense.
    Given that this all occurred a year ago, you might want to get a fresher news source.
  • MrTeal - Sunday, August 26, 2012 - link

    I can't help but notice that the UX31A is in your charts for this review. I sure hope this means that a review of the new 13" Zenbook Prime review? Reply
  • JarredWalton - Monday, August 27, 2012 - link

    Coming very soon. :-) Reply
  • seapeople - Sunday, August 26, 2012 - link

    Sooo... the spectre gets beat at Futuremark by two other laptops with the same thermal envelope, graphics, and slower processors (Asus and Intel UB), yet supposedly runs extremely cool at max load so therefore has no thermal issues?

    Is the cooling really that great, or are they throttling to reduce temperature?

    Also, did I miss the gaming review section?
  • CaioRearte - Sunday, August 26, 2012 - link

    Please review the HP Envy 14z (the one with Trinity). I think it's a nice comparison, then we can finally see the graphics power difference clearly. Reply
  • joshv - Sunday, August 26, 2012 - link

    I was one of the unfortunates who bought an original HP Envy 15, right after it was first released.

    The '2' key was stillborn, requiring a trip into the shop. Then the video intermittently began to fail. This resulted in about 4 to 5 round trips to the repair service. Every time but the last failing to fix it. Once it finally returned with a brand new motherboard, 2GB of RAM had gone missing (still recognized by the BIOS, but not by windows) and the BIOS they shipped me was so old it had this nasty little bug: . I had to fix it myself. Still can't figure out what's wrong with the RAM.

    So after that six months of fun I sat down to finally start using my ENVY, just in time for numerous other keys on the keyboard to fail.

    $2,000 - down the toilet - the thing is a useless brick.

    HP can't make quality, durable hardware. I should have known better.
  • Sunburn74 - Monday, August 27, 2012 - link

    Funny how the bench's for the asus ux31a are available for viewing in this review. Reply
  • CharonPDX - Monday, August 27, 2012 - link

    ...the battery is removable and upgradeable. You'll have to actually unscrew it with a torx screwdriver, but you can get to it, proving you can still get a fairly slim form factor and be able to replace parts. Apple should consider taking notes.

    Absolutely, I'd love to have a replaceable battery!

    The other disappointment with the HP Envy 14 Spectre was its battery running time.

    Or not....

    Non-replaceable means the space used to make it replaceable can be filled with more battery.
  • th3architectto - Friday, November 23, 2012 - link

    it's a classy amazing design, the best out there, good for "music and watch pictures". no this could be better if it has a 15 inch 1080p resolution display at minimum, upgradable aftermarket ssd, more memory capable, discrete graphics 1 gb ddr5 at least and handles ivy bridge 35/45watts processor, well making the classy design funtional real functional and they can do all that without over raising the price they're gonna be making them best business ever. Reply

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