HP Spectre Laptop Review: A Thin, Sleek, Nimble Beauty

Reviewing The 2016 HP Spectre Laptop

The race to build the world's thinnest laptop hasn't always resulted in quality design innovation or utility over more full-figured machines. For example, comparatively, Apple's MacBook Air line looks a little plain-Jane versus some of the nicer thin and light laptops on the market these days, and certainly HP's Spectre line as well. HP recently saw fit to fully revamp its Spectre series across multiple sizes and formats, the latest of which is simply branded Spectre.

HP Spectre Open Left Angle Open

The HP Spectre is actually a 13-inch machine, so you might refer to it as such (Spectre 13), if it helps you make the distinction. There's also the Spectre X360, HP's 15-inch convertible machine that we reviewed recently, and though it's only a 4 pound machine, it's still not as thin, light and stylish perhaps, as the new Spectre (13) that we're taking a look at here today.  This Spectre weighs almost half as much at just 2.45 pounds, but it's not just its thin and incredibly light ways that are head-turning. 

Everything about the HP Spectre boasts not only style but functional substance as well. Let's take you on a quick video tour, then we'll dive into our full experiential and performance analysis... 

HP Spectre 13-Inch 
Specifications & Features
Core i7-6500U Dual-Core 2.5GHz (Max 3.1GHz)
Windows 10 Home 64-bit
Display 13.3" diagonal FHD IPS UWVA BrightView Corning® Gorilla® Glass WLED-backlit (1920 x 1080)
Intel HD Graphics 520
Storage 256GB M.2 NVMe PCI Express M.2 SSD
Memory 8GB LPDDR3-1600
Bang & Olufsen Premium Sound, Quad Speakers
Camera HP TrueVision HD Webcam (front-facing) with integrated dual array digital mic
Networking Intel® Dual Band Wireless-AC 8260 - 802.11ac (2x2) and Bluetooth® 4.0 combo
Ports: Rear 3 USB Type-C , Two With Thunderbolt 3
Battery 4-Cell 38 WHr Li-Ion
Weight 2.45 pounds
Dimensions 12.8 x 9.03 x 0.41 in
Full-size island-style backlit
Warranty 1 year limited hardware warranty; 90 day phone support
Price $1249.99 As configured and tested

We'll look at the HP Spectre's gold-accented, machined-aluminum and carbon fiber chops on the following page, but for those more inclined towards substance, this machine is powered by one of Intel's more potent dual-core Skylake Core i7 processors, 8GB of RAM and a nimble 256GB NVMe PCI Express Solid State Drive. Graphics processing is handled by Intel's HD Graphics 520 core integrated on the processor and wireless connectivity is also powered by Intel, with 802.11ac 2x2 WiFi and Bluetooth 4. Wired IO connectivity puts Apple's latest MacBook to shame, however, with no less than three USB Type-C ports, two of which are enabled with Thunderbolt 3 bandwidth. 

HP Spectre Kit

Spectre Accessories

The new Spectre's display is an FHD 1920X1080 IPS panel that might seem a bit pedestrian with all of the QHD goodness on the market, though we'd argue that for a 13-inch machine 1080p handles just fine and isn't exactly "roughing it" either. Finally, All of the Spectre's cutting-edge laptop platform silicon is backed up by what might appear to be a slightly less than beefy 38 WHr battery, but we'll see how the machine holds up in battery life testing on the pages ahead.

With the Spectre, HP bundles in quite a few IO accessories to tap into those three USB-C ports - specifically a USB-C Gigabit Ethernet dongle, a full-sized HDMI dongle and a standard USB 3 port dongle. And of course you get the requisite AC adapter brick for the system, which is more of a palm-sized puck than anything else and very portable for low profile stow-away.

Let's dig into the HP Spectre's physical setup and software side, next...

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