HP Spectre 13-3010ea review
13.3 in 1,920x1,080 display, 1.5kg, 1.6GHz Intel Core i5-4200U, 8.00GB RAM, 265GB disk, Windows 8.1
The HP Spectre 13-3010ea is a slim, light and extremely attractive ultraportable laptop. It's small enough to slip into a small bag, while its high-resolution 13.3in widescreen display and its keyboard are big enough to make it easy to work on.
All slim laptops have to make a few compromises to save space, but the HP Spectre's ports are pared down to a bare minimum. We didn't expect an optical disc drive, but in the absence of one, it would be useful to have more than two USB ports so you can attach external storage. Both are USB3, at least. There's also a useful SDXC card slot.
There's no Ethernet port of any kind and no supplied adaptor, but the laptop, in common with many of its recent rivals, has an integrated 802.11ac wireless adaptor. This supports the latest, fastest wireless standard on both 2.4GHz and 5GHz frequencies, and is fully backwards compatible with older wireless routers.
The laptop has both a Mini DisplayPort output and an HDMI port, so you can connect its on-chip Intel HD Graphics 4400 GPU to a second screen or larger external display. When it comes to 3D gaming, the 4400 only managed a frame rate of 22.7fps in Dirt Showdown at High quality and a resolution of 1,280x720. Drop the quality setting to Medium, though, and you'll get a just-playable average frame rate of 31.6fps. You'll be able to play most 3D games at low quality settings and reduced resolutions, but this laptop is definitely no gaming monster.
The processor is an Intel Core i5-4200U. It's a low-power, dual-core i5 running at just 1.6GHz, so we didn't expect great things of it when it came to our application benchmarks. Its overall score of 37 is certainly adequate for the usual laptop tasks of web browsing and document creation, but performance in the video transcoding and multitasking tests was sluggish. There are more powerful ultraportable laptops around, but most users really don't need all that much oomph when they're on the move. The laptop is also equipped with 8GB of RAM and a generous 256GB SSD that gives you both a responsive desktop experience and enough room to install all the software you're likely to need.
It's vital that a laptop has decent input devices, as these can’t be replaced. The Spectre's touchscreen is great, but it's the keyboard and touchpad that you'll be using most. The touchpad isn't exactly badly designed, but it takes some getting used to. It's far larger than most and is offset slightly towards the right-hand side of the wrist rest. It feels incredibly smooth, which is disconcerting at first and can make the pointer hard to position accurately, while its size and offset position makes it hard to estimate where the touchpad's integrated buttons begin and end.
The size of the touchpad brings knock-on problems when using the keyboard. With our hands well clear of the touchpad, it felt like we were stretching to reach some keys. The flat, widely spaced keys are largely well designed and accurate to use, and the touchpad isn't very sensitive to being accidentally brushed. We'd have liked a bit more space around the cursor keys and a slightly more solid sense of resistance when typing, though.
The 1,920x1,080 resolution works well on the laptop's small display, thanks to Windows 8.1's improved desktop scaling. The glossy screen is bright and vivid, with a measured contrast ratio of 1026:1 and a deep, for a laptop, black level of 0.32cd/m2. The screen has impressive colour accuracy: our calibration device showed it as displaying 89% of the sRGB colour gamut.