We’ve been impressed by HP’s Spectre line up for a while, and this new Spectre 13.3” Ultrabook keeps the flame alive and well. At around 3lbs, it is constructed out of aluminum and feels very high quality when you hold it. For reference, I think that it feels sensibly better than my Macbook Air 13, which is probably the other aluminum design that most people know about.
In terms of display technologies, things go to the next level: you have the choice between a 1080p (1920×1080) or a qHD (3200×1800) IPS display, which would look rather stunning on a 13.3” laptop. The other design element that is obvious is the addition of a super wide trackpad. As you can see on the photos, there are two regions clearly visible on either sides, and they can be used for many reasons, like scrolling, but more importantly they emulate the side-screen swipe of Windows 8. Instead of extending your arm to swipe, you can now bring up the charms menu or switch between apps with a simple click. Of course all native Windows 8 gestures remain available.
When I had the laptop on hand, I was positively impressed by the general build quality and it’s fair to give special props for the screen and the keyboard as well. It feels really good, and it is backlit when you work in the dark. PC OEMs should never “cheap out” on three things: display, trackpad, keyboard and HP definitely reaches for the high-end of the spectrum with this design. Now I really wish that they had a 4.4lbs, 15” Spectre as well. Maybe next time.