A Quick Look at HP ENVY 14 Spectre

IMG_0908.JPGWe revealed the ENVY 14 Spectre in January – and it won Best of CES 2012 for its awesome design. And tomorrow, you’ll be able to order a Spectre if you’re on the market for a premium ultrabook that stands out in a crowd. Truth be told, these laptops are a little in demand at that moment – but that ain’t stopping me. I was able to grab a prototype unit for an hour or two. So, of course, I decided to take it for a spin around town. Read on for a couple bits from my short, sweet test drive.


After sneaking an ENVY 14 Spectre out of the labs, my first stop: A nearby coffee shop – Peninsula Coffee Roaster Deli in San Mateo. I didn’t even get to flip it open and the dude behind the counter, Johnny, starts stealing glances. “Man, that thing looks cool!” He’s no techie, by his own admission, but I open it and show him – the guy was actually pretty impressed. Knocking back a cup, I get back on-mission: Plant myself somewhere and start playing with the ENVY 14 Spectre before the guys in the lab even know it’s missing.




(A shot in case you were wondering how cool the back of the lid can look….)





And yep, I found a couple other like-minded remote workers. For comparisons-sake, take a look at the Spectre in the foreground compared to a more conventional work laptop just beside it.





Funny pictures aside, I wanted to share with you some of the specs of the unit in my hands….


CPU: Core i7-2677 CPU @ 1.8GHz
SSD: Samsung 128GB SSD


Here’s what that breaks down to when you look at the Windows Experience Index scores. Bear in mind that this is in no way a true benchmark. This is just a rough snapshot of what’s inside the system. As for the score: It just screams, “Yep, I’m an Ultrabook!”




Something I stumbled across as I was sifting through the MSCONFIG’s Startup tab for this machine: HP Touch To Share. Turn on the Near Field Communication (NFC) radio in the laptop and you can link this with an Android phone that has the app installed. (Sorry, I only had a Pre3 on me – what can I say? I’m stubborn. ;p) For those unfamiliar with the concept, Touch to Share means that you could be checking out something on your phone – say directions – just place your phone near the laptop and the NFC function transfers that data between devices. Needless to say it’s a neat feature I hope to test when I have more time. And when I have the right phone. Another thing I spotted in the MSCONFIG: HP’s Wireless Audio Manager (for streaming to Kleer Audio-enabled devices).




The Corning glass on the wrist rest area actually made a surprising difference for me. (As I wrote this post on it.) It’s cool to the touch, nice and smooth and it doesn’t hurt that it looks kinda cool as well. Hey, I’ve got expert testimony from Johnny on that count as well. Speaking of glass, you know that it also covers the 14-inch 1600 by 900 resolution screen, right? That screen looks clear and sharp in broad daylight. And in a bar.


Personal preference of mine: The Spectre also carries over the Beats analog dial from the new ENVY 15 and 17. (The dial doesn’t have stop-points; it’s a free-spinning dial.)




I would’ve loved to do more with the Spectre. Maybe leave it on a bar seat and see if anyone would notice? Nah.....


More like play games....y’know, for scientific purposes. The truth is you wouldn’t have gotten a full picture of how it works from this prototype – and, quite frankly – I only had one pint’s-worth of time before someone would notice that it’s gone. You can bank on the fact that I will give you guys a full update about what the Spectre is capable of at some point soon. But if what I was able to tell you here has you curious to learn even more, read the stories I’ve already written about Spectre. You can also check out the Spectre homepage – right here.


The ENVY 14 Spectre is available for order starting tomorrow, February 8th. Got any questions for me in the meantime?


by DOGC_Kyle
on ‎02-08-2012 04:33 PM

The Pre3, Veer, and TouchPad support "Touch to Share" with each other, so shouldn't it work with this? It doesn't make sense to port the feature (or at least the name) to Windows/Android and then make webOS incompatible.

by DOGC_Kyle
on ‎02-08-2012 04:37 PM

Also, what does "Fn+T" do? Smiley Wink

by GizmoGladstone
on ‎02-08-2012 05:06 PM

ah, all good questions. truth be told, that touch-to-share among the webOS devices wasn't quite working for me (I can connect my pre3 to touchpad via bluetooth at least. that's kinda neat). So nope, the app on the Spectre was specifically looking for the Android app. Then again, I didn't really have much time with it to get quality testing done. If I can find a way, I'll let you know....


(DOH! Shoulda tried "fn+t!!!!" Smiley Wink )



by valient1
on ‎02-08-2012 11:51 PM

when you upgrade ur phone... Can I have your Pre 3? I waited so so long for them and well.. Every one knows what happened.. Smiley Sad I still hav a Palm Pre.. It's on life support.. Don't know how much time it has left Smiley Sad 

by GizmoGladstone
on ‎02-09-2012 12:27 AM

I respect where you're coming from, Valient1. I'm actually hanging onto my Pre3 -- it's my work phone (besides, it's a wee bit of history. I'm hanging onto it as long as it works)

by DOGC_Kyle
‎02-09-2012 01:27 PM - edited ‎02-09-2012 01:28 PM

Oh, I was hoping it would work. Maybe a software update on either Spectre or webOS would make it work. If not, I can't a lot of webOS fans buying this. If it does happen, this will be the best laptop ever!

by matt1q23
on ‎02-09-2012 02:19 PM

Does this computer suppot 8GB of memory? I know it only has 1 DIMM (I think) but is that user accessable? Please respond! I have not been able to get any answers on this!

by DOGC_Kyle
on ‎02-09-2012 05:07 PM

None of the components (besides the adapter) are user accessible, so you would have to disassemble the unit to add memory yourself.


So, the only way to get 8GB is to configure the unit online and buy it. I'm pretty sure you can choose 4GB or 8GB, but I might be wrong.

by GizmoGladstone
‎02-09-2012 05:09 PM - edited ‎02-09-2012 05:09 PM

DOGC, Matt: I'm actually going back to the team to double check on how that's working. If / when I get word, I'll update the story and let you both know.

by GizmoGladstone
on ‎02-10-2012 11:24 AM
I've double checked and the official word: "There is currently only a 4GB RAM option for Spectre." If I hear anything else, I'll obviously update the story.
by ritz51
on ‎02-10-2012 11:28 AM
looks awesome, what about playing video on hdtv, does it support widi for example?
by GizmoGladstone
on ‎02-10-2012 03:59 PM
@ritz: This guy's got HDMI and WiDi (I just wasnt able to connect it in the bar).
by DOGC_Kyle
on ‎02-12-2012 06:19 AM

According to this page, it also has mini DisplayPort, and 8GB or DDR3.




So it's either 4GB or 8GB RAM, unless this page is outdated/wrong.


If/when I get one, I might try to get my TouchPad to connect through Bluetooth to use Touch-to-Share. The NFC icon used on the poster (that comes with the unit) clearly shows a Pre3, so it seems like something that was being worked on.

by GizmoGladstone
on ‎02-12-2012 06:38 PM

@DOGC - yep, also has mini-DisplayPort on it as well (I was just answering Ritz's specific question about HDMI and WiDi).


As for the RAM, from what I understand of it, the page you linked to might be outdated. I'm going to flag that my gang here and make sure that it's set straight.


Hey, if it does work on the final machine w/ my Pre 3 / TouchPad, it'd be awesome....I just don't have one in front of me to confirm anything on that front.





by hpnewsboy
on ‎02-14-2012 09:07 PM

I bet there will be people wishing they could upgrade their 4Gb to 8Gb a year from now.

Hold onto that Pre3. history for sure. I held onto my iphone1, but outside the US now, I couldn't unlock it, so I just sent it back to one of my editors to use - better to do that than just use it as a world clock on my desk.

by GizmoGladstone
on ‎02-15-2012 11:15 AM



Oh, I'm not getting rid of the Pre3 anytime soon -- I even have an extra one in the box that I'm saving! ;p



by captbradley2011
on ‎06-25-2012 11:06 AM

I just ordered a new, fully maxxed Envy 14 Spectre.


8 gig of Ram, 256 gig SSD, the I7 processor with HD4000 graphics...I did a lot of research online, comparing the Spectre with competing ultrabooks. Samsung obviously didn't make the cut, Toshiba isn't in the same leauge and Sony had poor fan exhaust design issues and a plastic, cheap look. The Spectre is definitely the best looking laptop in existence.


 I saw a 2012 review on YouTube of a Spectre with the HD3000 graphics running new games like Skyrim and Fear 2, and handling them quite well, so I'm all the more excited about the even better performance I can expect with the HD4000, but it would be nice to someday have 2 gigs of Nvidia discrete graphics. In any case, as configured with the I7 option the Envy 14 Spectre is a capable ultrabook, with class.


I'm just wondering....Where on the Envy 14 Spectre does cooling air come in? I don't see any vents for air inlet, only for heat exhaust at the back where the fans are. Anyone know?

by GizmoGladstone
on ‎06-26-2012 02:20 PM



Nice! Looks like you're really tricking it out! I haven't tried Skyrim / FEAR 2 on it yet, but I can tell you that I've played some DiRT3 and Diablo III on it and it's pretty solid. I haven't had a chance to see a 3rd-gen core cpu on an Ultrabook for extended testing yet.....but sounds like you should be in for some fun.


RE: Discrete graphics -- amen! That said, have you checked out stuff like the ENVY 6? It's a little bigger, but it does pack discrete graphics...I ran a post about that showing off how it performed last week.


As for your question, all the venting I've seen on the Spectre is in the middle-back of the base. If I recall correctly, it's pulling air through the right side of that vent and around the case, shooting out the other side of the vent.




Darren Gladstone


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