In a previous life, the HP Envy 14 was a laptop’s laptop: a 5.69-pound slugger with an optical drive, discrete AMD graphics and a battery that couldn’t last four hours in our battery rundown test. That notebook — one of our favorites in the 2010-2011 year — met its fate last fall when HP redesigned its high-end Envy line, but instead of going wherever it is gadgets go to die it was reincarnated as an Ultrabook. The new Envy 14, dubbed the Spectre, has shed almost two pounds, along with its discrete graphics and outmoded optical drive. It’s also one of the first 14-inch Ultrabooks to hit the market, but even if it weren’t so oddly sized we’d have no trouble remembering it: after all, how many laptops have a built-in NFC chip, or a glass palm rest?
There’s no doubt about it: the Spectre is a premium machine, and it’s not just that HP needed something high-end to take the place of the last-gen Envy 14. This also happens to be the company’s first consumer-grade Ultrabook, and it arrives at a time when there are many to choose from. Enter HP’s marketing department: the outfit’s touting this thing as a “premium Ultrabook” — the kind of machine you’d choose if you wanted a 1600 x 900 IPS-quality display or an unorthodox design. For that kind of beauty, though, you’re looking at $1,400 and up — a princely cost of entry when you consider lots of similarly specced models go for $1,100 or less. But perhaps that splurge comes with more than just a head-turning design? There’s only one way to find out: follow past the break for our in-depth review.
Gallery: HP Envy 14 Spectre review