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HP Envy 14 Spectre Review: A True MacBook Competitor

Author: Matt Smith
Subject: Mobile
Manufacturer: HP



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HP’s Envy 14 Spectre is an impressive piece of hardware. It is a device with more flaws than an Apple laptop - the glowing red Beats logo is the strangest of several questionable design choices - but the Spectre 14 makes up for such shortcomings with several major wins.

The greatest of these is the display. It’s beautiful. It’s colorful. It’s bright. It’s everything that computer enthusiasts constantly ask for but never receive. No, it’s not perfect (quality is still behind a decent desktop monitor) but it puts most laptop displays to shame. Only Apple’s new Retina MacBook Pro will clearly hand the Spectre its hat, but the base price of the Retina is $2220, so it's not a fair comparison.

Sound quality is another strength. It easily beats laptops of similar size and matches or exceeds many larger multimedia and gaming laptops. If you don’t care about listening to music this may not be of benefit to you, but I do care about that, so I thought Beats audio added a lot to the product.

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HP also manages to avoid fumbling on build quality. The Spectre feels robust, luxurious and properly put together. Panel gaps are mostly out of sight and tight when they are, chassis flex is kept to a minimum and material feel is excellent. Apple still has the lead but HP is getting close.

I think HP already built the first legitimate competitor to Apple when it started to ship last year’s HP Envy 15 (though the mentioned display issue put a damper on it). The Spectre is a strong second swing at Cupertino. It’s built nearly as well as Apple’s products, provides a better display than the 13” Air or Pro and offers significantly better sound quality. I also think the Spectre is more attractive.

Don’t misunderstand me - I’m not saying the Spectre is better than Apple’s laptops. I am, however, saying that it’s an equal. It makes a few choices that are different from those made at Apple and as a result it’s stronger in some areas and weaker in others, but the Spectre 14 is just as excellent overall. This is an outstanding product that justifies its intimidating price.

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July 10, 2012 | 02:01 PM - Posted by Annoyingmouse (not verified)

At such a price, that is a really tough sell compared to the Zenbook Prime series.

July 11, 2012 | 08:23 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Fujitsu is introducing a Tablet/Hybrid with swapple DVD/RW drive, 2nd Hard/SSD dirve, or Battery. No more having to order an aftermarket SATA disk drive caddy and fiddeling with screws! I can only hope that this catches on with other laptop OEMs!

October 6, 2015 | 10:07 PM - Posted by Desiree (not verified)

It was designed for space-ships to mirror heat and lightweight.

July 19, 2012 | 05:36 PM - Posted by razor512

The noise issue mainly happens when the laptop maker uses cheap capacitors on their laptop.

I have had this issue with a cheap 300 watt power supply that came with an old case, I wanted to use it as pretty much a multi purpose power supply for powering various dev boards

I was able to get rid of the noise by replacing the 1000 hour 85c caps with ones that had the same capacity but supported a higher voltage and were rated at 2000 hours 105C

the noise went away and the power supply works even better than before (when tested on a old PC the voltage is more stable and is great when left at the side of my desk with a few splitters for running fans, lights and various other things (whats better is I have a decent supply of 12V, 5V, and 3.3V power and since I never load it up like crazy, I added a potentiometer to the fan and lowered the speed making it almost completely silent)

anyway, when you hear noise from your electronics then it is likely due to cheap components being pushed to their limits and if you can open them and still run them, then you can locate the noisy parts, then copy down their models and measure their height and width

after that, head to a site like the element 14 store then select a higher quality version from their drop down menu, then simply desolder the old part then solder in the new part and the noise will be gone.

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