The Best College Laptop isn't what You'd Expect

7:51:00 PM

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I don’t normally do reviews but I bought this laptop for the fall semester and couldn’t be happier about it. The new go to ultraportable for a college student no longer comes from Cupertino. 

As with many other things in the tech world, Apple has started this trend of tech design reaching the point of jewelry like status. Now it’s no secret Apple has always taken pride in the fact that they create meticulous designs that reek of elegance and beauty. However, when the Apple Watch Edition was released tech design reached a whole new level of importance and companies have been scrambling to outdo them at their own game ever since. Major cellphone companies have been stepping up their design game to take on the iPhone but what about the Macbook? Windows variants have never done too well in the design department. Mountains of plastic, rubber, fuax aluminum trims have come to define the majority of Windows laptops from flagship to entry level. Enter the Hp Spectre.
That hinge dou. Photo Credit via HP.
What is the Hp Spectre?
The Spectre is a laptop that looks suited for James Bond. It is a laptop that puts form over function but can also deliver on most fronts of the function aspect. Spectre guns for the Macbook Air like Bond pursuing his villain. Its bringing out the big guns for this mission too with Bang & Olufsen speakers, a beautiful build all around and internals to match its, oh let’s just say it, sexy finish. Of course, the coup de grâce for this design masterpiece is that innovative hinge. All this sounds great on paper but we have seen many before attempt this feat of conquering Apple at its own game only to fall into the massive pit of substandard Apple rip-offs. Can the Hp Spectre avoid this same trap?

Highlight features:
13.3-inch screen
10.4mm thick – The thinnest laptop in the world at the time of its release.
8 GB of RAM
i5 or i7 processor
Full size tactile illuminated keyboard.
Hideaway dual piston Hinge.
1080p Display / Bang and Olufsen Speakers

The Hp Spectre takes form over the function so we shall do the same in this review. I’ve been using the Spectre as my daily driver for roughly two months now. Its seen some mileage and looks just as new as it did when I first had the pleasure of unboxing it. This has been largely thanks to a sleek well-made leather sleeve HP was kind enough to include in the box, saving me from having to purchase one. 

The in your face gold trim contrasts the subtle understated brown finish very nicely. You’ll see this everywhere from the keyboard to that sleek new logo that HP claims its reserving for its more premium devices. It certainly fits the bill on this particular device. 

To say the Spectre is thin would be a massive understatement. The new hinge design allows it to be the same thickness from front to back, unlike a traditional clamshell lid. But onto that Hinge. That hinge is really a feat of engineering brilliance.The hinge is one of the reasons HP can make this laptop so thin and yet so powerful. Not to mention it is gorgeous to look at. The only issue with it is if you often stand and work it may not quite go far back enough for your liking. Overall the design is a marvel and will be the envy of the laptop community that will surely have the other major players taking notes.
The gold compliments the the matte brown finish beautifully. Photo Credit via HP
All this talk of fancy hinges and outlandish trim colors may just leave the specs of this machine as an afterthought. Well, that would be a mistake as the internals play a part in creating that sleek ultra-portable Apple fanboy rage inducing thinness that tech companies seem to think we so desperately crave. 

The model I have is the i7 and that along with the 8GB of RAM is more than enough to conquer daily tasks. This is no gaming PC but productivity tasks such as multi-tasking browsing emails and word docs doesn’t even make the Spectre sweat. The fans do tick on when its charging and blow the exhaust out the rear facing vents. I’ve had the fans click on for a few seconds when I was doing some extreme multitasking but it’s nothing major and never bothered me too much. Photo editing is a breeze and export times are good as well. I personally don’t video edit but I do believe this would make a good portable editing PC to replace your Macbook Pro. 

The Spectre is exclusively USB-C. Photo Credit via HP
The battery life may be where you want to reconsider this machine however. HP claims 9 hours of video playback but real world tests are where the real numbers come from. Screen brightness up and keyboard illuminated I lasted my entire class schedule taking notes and browsing with some battery to spare afterwards. The battery certainly isn’t a deal breaker but if you need the best battery you can get you may want to look elsewhere. If you need it for half a day at a time for light to medium use you should have no problems with the battery life.

Along with the battery, there is one other weakness of the Spectre to take note of. The Spectre is strictly USB-C but HP is gracious enough to provide 3 of these ports (ahem Apple ahem) as well as a USB to USB-C dongle. The dongle is relatively small and this wasn’t too much of a nuisance but if you plug in multiple USB devices on the go this may be a hassle for you until the tech world adapts USB-C universally.

The keyboard is tactile and clicky. I’ll go as far to say as it’s the best keyboard on a laptop I’ve ever used. The touchpad is great as well but it’s a bit on the small size. However, it’s the quality and responsiveness you would find on a Macbook with all the same gesture controls.

The screen is good, it’s no 4k or QHD powerhouse but that upgrade would be minimal on a machine like this. Also, the hit the battery would take because of it just wouldn’t be a good trade off. It’s a good HD panel and I believe HP made the right choice to keep it at full HD. The part I was mostly disappointed with was the speakers. Bang and Olufsen is a great name but sadly it just doesn’t deliver here. The speakers are decent for some Spotify listening or some headphones for Netflix. But I expected crisper sound and it is just not here. It’s mediocre or slightly above at best.

This is the best Macbook Air alternative out there and I would even rate it higher than its Apple rival. The battery may not stack up to the Macbook but the immense power difference more than makes up for it. This is by far in large the best laptop for a campus walker. Perfect for taking to class on a daily basis. A lightweight powerhouse you will barley even notice your carrying around topped off with a sleek and sexy design that’s guaranteed to get your classmates asking about it. The HP Spectre is the Windows ultraportable to beat.

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