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back to article HP Envy 14 Spectre Ultrabook

The test unit I reviewed was forwarded on to me from the Harrods press office. That alone should tell you a lot about the HP Envy 14 Spectre. For you, Harrods may conjure images of oil sheiks browsing bling, affectatious middle classes buying ham and feeble-minded tourists ogling Saint Diana's soiled crockery, but Harrods makes …

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Bronze badge
WTF?

What about us poor buggers?

It's all very well seeing numerous reviews of fab £1000+ laptops and yes, I'd like one (or two), but it'd be nice to see an occasional review for a budget laptop - say sub £500. Even better, a top-ten of the best of the cheapies. Not all of us are Rockefellers.

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Anonymous Coward

advertising

Its all in the advertising.

Adverts and adverts telling us we need an ultra book, because they are the next best thing eventhough they are severely overpriced and are a compromise.

It is the manufacturers promotion of something they want us to have but we do not actually need.

I'm not buying into it.

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Anonymous Coward

still

Not convinced about ultra books,

Yes they are portable just like a netbook though they cost £1000 more.

Yes they are as powerful as a full blown laptop but at £500 more.

Yes they are more practical than a tablet but are £600 more.

But still you only get 5 hours battery life, there is no disk drive and the screen is usually below par.

So why bother unless it is a fashion item.

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It makes sense when you travel a lot

Being able to get on a train, pull a laptop out out a fabric sleeve three centimetres think (which is mostly padding), watch it switch on instantly, be able to hold it on a crowded train because it's about a foot long, get typing with a proper keyboard and listen to music while I do that with proper multitasking? Worth it. I think...

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Paris Hilton

Re: still

You just told us why:

"Yes they are portable just like a netbook

Yes they are as powerful as a full blown laptop

Yes they are more practical than a tablet"

Whether or not that's worth paying more for is up to you. If not, don't buy it, but these things hardly make them a "fashion item"

Steve

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Silver badge
Go

Getting there

It looks as though things are improving.

HP really need to do something about their logo though. The 70's called and want it back.

It's fine for servers and large cabinets with spinning reels on the front, but cool it isn't.

At least the screen res has finally improved... probably just before Apple raises the bar again.

My guess is that it still doesn't know what it wants to be - ultra portable or desktop replacement. I suspect Apple has it right by down-clocking its kit to improve battery life. Can we not have our "turbo" button from the 80's back for the best of both worlds?

To my mind, an "ultra" computer needs to be top of the line. That means battery life when I want it and plenty of speed if I have electrons to burn, coupled with the good aesthetics. I'd settle for speed only when mains connected if I needed to. It would save getting another pc for games.

At last the aesthetics are getting there. Fix the battery/clock trade-off and have optional discrete graphics and fix the USB spacing, that's a dumb rookie mistake.

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Silver badge

Intel Graphics == No use to me

I will aim at a much cheaper, only slightly heavier 13.3" or 14" notebook with nVidia 520 or 540 graphics so I can run CUDA and openCL stuff (there are a few very nice ones from Asus, Samsung, and even Dell). The whole idea of an ultrabook is hobbled by the insistence on Intel graphics. For the prices they are asking they could put in a decent graphics chipset. Until Intel supports CUDA (i.e. when hell freezes over) I will steer clear of any machine with only Intel graphics.

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Silver badge

Re: Intel Graphics == No use to me

Alas, the 'Ultrabook' spec dictates a minimum amount of battery life, inside a case of limited dimensions. Putting in discrete graphics wouldn't help the manufacturers meet this spec (though I imagine battery life quoted would be with the discrete graphics turned off).

It seems that Intel have succeeded in getting enough 'brand awareness' behind Ultrabook that manufacturers are willing to leave out nVidia (and high res displays) in order to get the badge.

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Silver badge

Re: Intel Graphics == No use to me

I understand the why, it is just of no use to me. Others will probably be very happy with the machines

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Coat

Spanky?

Yes indeedy. Paddles only please.

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FAIL

Also:

- Weight: glass is surprisingly heavy. And breakable - even the tough stuff. Ask the many iphone4 users with the same problem.

- FAIL on the lid opening. While the anti-fanbois will whail and knash, observe Apples Air lids for simplicity and ease of function.

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Yes

Not to mention it being very shiny and reflective.

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Silver badge
WTF?

Gah!

That screen would be nice to watch a DVD or BluRay disk on. Oh hang on, it doesn't have an optical drive.

WTF are they thinking of? Do they really think they are so ahead of their time that DVD/BD have died as a media format? That everyone has already dumped their collections? That low cost, high bandwidth mobile HD video streaming technology has become ubiquitous?

What is this "Planet Future" they come from?

I also read that the next MacBook Pro is going to be yet another stupid super-skinny laptop with no optical drive. That makes it a MacBook Air you morons!

Gah! Simply: Gah!

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Re: Gah!

CD/DVD use has declined a lot and with cheap USB sticks and external drives powered over USB, not all that many use cases where an external drive is a problem nowadays. Good call IMO.

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Silver badge
Unhappy

Re: Gah!

So instead of the convenient built-in optical drive, you can copy your CD or DVD to a cheap USB stick. You may need to buy another computer to do this on.

Alternatively, you can use an external optical drive. Your super-thin, light laptop ends up sharing a case with a collection of ancillary junk.

Incidentally, wouldn't it be useful if manufacturers and reviewers quoted weights including the power supply? Until battery life exceeds 24 hours (or hell freezes over, whichever happens first) I'm going to be carrying the power supply most of the time as well as the computer. I recall an HP laptop from a few years ago where the power supply was about the size and weight of a house brick.

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Re: Gah!

That's kind of the point of these computers: portability over features. And a disk drive motor would destroy the battery life.

If you still want one try Samsung-I think they do a Series 7 which is as thin as it can be with a drive fitted.

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WTF?

It has an SSD and it boots in 35 seconds?

My Asus laptop also has an SSD and it boots from cold to log-in in 5 seconds. Of course, I run Arch Linux. :-)

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Silver badge

I don't get it

If I spent this much money on a computer I'd want far more storage than a 128GB SSD provides. Why aren't manufacturers sticking hybrids drives into their computers. It would allow them to significantly lower the price of their machines without affecting profits and allow customers more storage with minimal impact on battery life. It would be a win for everyone.

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Thumb Up

Re: I don't get it

Samsung Series 5 ( and possibly the 7 and 9) are Hybrids .. give them a look. You get about 500GB hdisk space for a lower price + a 16GB OS drive to get the boosted performance :)

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Happy

Tinny

Here's how Harrods' target audience discusses the merits of Beats audio:

- "Tinny. Tin Tin Tin."

- "gaaaaaah"

- "Don't say Tin. It upsets her."

- "Sorry, old horse. Goooorne. Now ther's a good word. Got a sort of woody quality."

for reference:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T70-HTlKRXo

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FAIL

The Dawn French of ultrabooks

The only reason the benchmark results are so good are because the laptop uses a solid state drive (SSD). If it weren't for that fact, it'd be on the shelves at around £400 vs £1100!

I do wonder if HP Sent in the article with a free laptop to the author given how glorified it seems to make this laptop out to be (which I did not get from having seen it in the shops). This isn't even an ultrabook at its size/weight and tiny hard disk.

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Silver badge
Unhappy

Another nice looking machine.......

...that underneath the skin is a total dogs dinner.

Like buying a nice car but finding it has two steering wheels and no front left wheel.

Like always wait for Anandtech to do a proper review.

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Silver badge

I'm really like the external audio volume control. When listening to streaming audio / podcasts, I often have the lid closed.

Compare to my Dell, where the volume controls are included in a row of touch sensitive buttons above the keyboard... hard to identify in low light, they only illuminate once I've pressed them. Hardly useful.

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FAIL

Seriously?

£1k+ for a laptop with a 4 cell battery and only onboard graphics? I'll take a 500gb - 1tb sata 7200 rpm over the ssd with a 9 cell battery and the graphics card amd 6950 and still get that price under £1k!

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Silver badge

Beats Audio

"Beats Audio enhances the sound you get from the computer"

The name "Beats" unfortunately implies that it "enhances the sound" the way moron mechanics "enhance" your car audio during a service by turning the bass up to maximum.

Does Beats Audio do anything other than try to compensate for the crap frequency response of the output devices?

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"Why aren't manufacturers sticking hybrids drives into their computers. It would allow them to significantly lower the price of their machines without affecting profits and allow customers more storage with minimal impact on battery life."

It would allow them to lower prices, but SSDs can be integrated into a smaller physical space - especially height - than a standard 2.5" drive. Also, a hybrid drive does not reduce power consumption because the physical disk still needs to be spinning. As a replacement for traditional HDDs, they're a great idea, but not flat, almost zero-power consuming flash chips.

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Alert

Where can I find this i7 model?

Everywhere I look I see the i5 processor fitted.

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