There is no shortage of ultra-thin, ultra-light laptops on the market but Apple’s MacBook range has arguably always been the benchmark against which every new contender is measured. Although many have tried, no manufacturer has quite been able to out-design Apple when it comes to ultrabooks.
HP Inc. may just be the first to offer something so stunningly beautiful and well designed that the MacBook may have some serious competition for the first time.
Launched at the New York Times International Luxury Conference in Versailles, France yesterday, the HP Spectre claims to be the “world’s thinnest laptop” at just 0.41-inches, or 10.4 millimeters.
With a CNC machined aluminum chassis combined with a carbon fibre bottom, copper accents, and unique piston-like hinges, HP says it wanted the Spectre to feel more like a piece of jewelry rather than a laptop — perhaps that explains why it was launched at a luxury show rather than at a tech show.
So how does the HP Spectre compare to those bastions of design and portability, the 13-inch MacBook Air, and the Retina MacBook?
HP Spectre vs. Retina MacBook vs. 13” MacBook Air: Tech specs
HP Spectre 13
13” MacBook Air
6th generation Intel Core i5 and i7 processors
|1.1GHz or 1.2GHz dual-core Intel Core M processor (Turbo Boost up to 2.4GHz) with 4MB shared L3 cache|
Configurable to 1.3GHz dual-core Intel Core M processor (Turbo Boost up to 2.9GHz) with 4MB shared L3 cache.
1.6GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 (Turbo Boost up to 2.7GHz) with 3MB shared L3 cache.
Up to 8GB
|8GB of 1600MHz LPDDR3 onboard memory|
4GB of 1600MHz LPDDR3 onboard memory
|Hard Drive / Storage|
Up to 512GB PCIe SSD
|256GB PCIe-based onboard flash storage, Configurable to 512GB flash storage.|
128GB PCIe-based flash storage / 256GB PCIe-based flash storage
|Display and webcam|
Full HD IPS edge-to-edge display with Corning Gorilla, no detail on webcam as yet.
12-inch (diagonal) LED-backlit display with IPS technology
(2304 x 1440 at 226 ppi), Intel HD Graphics 5300, 480p FaceTime camera
13.3-inch LED-backlit glossy widescreen display (1440 x 900),Intel HD Graphics 6000, 720p FaceTime HD camera
Next-generation 802.11 ac 2×2 Wi-Fi antenna.
802.11ac Wi-Fi wireless networking; IEEE 802.11a/b/g/n compatible, Bluetooth 4.0 wireless technology.
Stereo speakers by Bang & Olufsen with HP Audio Boost technology
Stereo speakers, Dual microphones, Headphone port, Support for Apple iPhone headset with remote and microphone
|Ports and connectors|
Three full function USB Type-C connectors, including two of which support Thunderbolt.
|One USB-C port with support for:|
USB 3.1 Gen 1 (up to 5 Gbps)
Native DisplayPort 1.2 video output
VGA output using USB-C VGA Multiport Adapter (sold separately)
HDMI video output using USB-C Digital AV Multiport Adapter (sold separately)
Two USB 3 ports (up to 5 Gbps), Thunderbolt 2 port (up to 20 Gbps), MagSafe 2 power port, SDXC card slot
Hybrid battery split into two thinner pieces delivers the same wattage as a single battery for up to 9 and half hours of battery life.
|Up to 9 hours wireless web, Up to 10 hours iTunes movie playback, Up to 30 days of standby time, Built-in 39.7-watt-hour lithium-polymer battery, 29W USB-C Power Adapter; USB-C power port|
Up to 12 hours wireless web, Up to 12 hours iTunes movie playback, Up to 30 days standby time, Built-in 54‑watt‑hour lithium‑polymer battery, 45W, MagSafe 2 Power Adapter with cable management; MagSafe 2 power port
|Dimensions and weight|
0.41” thick, 2.45 lbs
“as thin as an AAA-battery”
|11.04” x 0.14–0.52” x 7.74, 2.03 lbs|
12.8” x 0.68” x 8.94“, 2.96 lbs
Starting price at $1,169.99, pre-orders open April 25.
|$1299: 256GB$599: 512GB|
$999: 128GB $1199: 256GB
There’s no arguing that Apple’s now one-year-old Retina MacBook is a thing of beauty, but you’d have to be blind not to appreciate the design and attention to detail that has gone into the HP Spectre. Instead of listening to me wax lyrical about it, see for yourself: (also see the image gallery at the end of this post)
The MacBook can be had with either an Intel Core i5 or i7 processor while the Retina MacBook comes with only an Intel Core M option.
HP offers the Spectre in i5 and i7 guise and has even devised a unique cooling system to keep the spectre slim and trim. HP’s hyperbaric cooling system provides a two-way flow of air — it draws in cool air directing it over the processor while pushing out warm air at the same time.
The hybrid battery is split into two thinner pieces and provides a claimed 9 and a half hours of battery life — not on par with the MacBook Air’s 12-hours, but neck-in-neck with the Retina MacBook.
Superb entertainment experience with full HD 13.3″ diagonal edge-to-edge display and Bang & Olufsen sound.
The HP Spectre out-classes the Retina MacBook here — compared to just one USB Type-C port to handle charging and peripherals, the Spectre boasts three USB Type-C ports, two of which support Thunderbolt.
Price and availability
The HP Spectre is available for pre-order on HP.com and BBY.com on April 25 at a starting price of $1169.99 and will arrive in Best Buy stores on May 22 at a starting price of $1249.99.
In Apple’s Defense
Rumors and expectations suggest that Apple will refresh its MacBook lineup this year to include Intel’s new, more-powerful Skylake processors and USB-C with Thunderbolt 3 support. As for design, it remains to be seen what Apple will bring to the table for its MacBook refresh — new, innovative design, or just upgraded specs.
Images via HP Inc.