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HP’s Spectre is No Ghost, Though its Beauty is Otherworldly

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HP has proclaimed its Spectre Laptop to be "the world's thinnest laptop". Just how thin is it, and did it sacrifice anything in order to achieve that status? With these questions in mind, we set off to review the HP Spectre Laptop (13.3").

We purchased the HP Spectre directly from HP's online Home and Home Office Store.

After almost a month, the HP Spectre arrived in a nondescript black box, complete with a convenient handle, and seemingly advertised the audio partnership with Bang & Olufsen more than it advertised the laptop itself. For being the thinnest laptop in the world, this box was very thick.

A list of the items we ordered was included in a bag attached to the box, allowing us to verify that our order was correct and later on was used to verify that everything had arrived. 

Opening up the box afforded us a view of yet another package, this time embedded within two pieces of packaging foam.   The box came with a 13 inch leather-like case neatly stuffed into an open cavity. 

The case seems to be of high quality.

Also included were three adapters that we also purchased for the ports on the HP Spectre that were, save for the audio headphone jack, exclusively USB Type-C based.  

The HP Spectre also came with VGA, Ethernet, and HDMI adapters for USB Type-C ports.

Next, for the laptop box itself. I have never seen such a deluxe-looking classy box for a laptop. The construction was solid, and the box alone was immensely pleasing to look at, spotless, and sharp on the edges.

The name of the laptop emblazoned across the cover, minimalistic and elegant.

Lifting the cover off, we see the prized laptop, nestled in a very comfortable indent.

Lifting by the plastic tab allows for easy removal of the laptop from its resting place.

Below we find instructions manuals, and a compartment storing the usual necessities such as power cables.

Also included is a USB Type-A to USB Type-C dongle.

Having peeled off the plastic, an affair as satisfying as ever, we see unfiltered how glossy the finish is, and how reflective the back of the laptop is. 


There are three USB Type-C ports, all in the back, which is the thickest part of the laptop, which even then, is still very slim.

Two of the USB Type-C ports sitting next to each other with a Lightning symbol are Thunderbolt 3 based.  These Thunderbolt 3 ports support Thunderbolt 3 (40 Gb/s), USB 3.1 Gen 2 (10 Gb/s), DisplayPort 1.2 to connect with 4K@60hz displays, and uses USB Power Delivery to provide 15 watts to USB Type-C devices.  You can't use these Thunderbolt 3 ports to charge the HP Spectre.

The other USB Type-C port is used for charging the HP Spectre and providing USB 3.1 Gen 1 (5 Gb/s) connectivity.  Here is where things can get a little complicated, especially given how HP has implemented USB Power Delivery Technology.  As seen from this review, the HP Spectre is blocking other USB Type-C chargers from charging the computer.

There is a lone headphone jack on this end of the laptop. The sides have no ports, having exchanged them instead for a slimmer build.

Opening the laptop for the first time, the color scheme is calming and suggests a rather elegant feel. 

Removing the included protective sheet offers us a first look at the keyboard, which can be backlit. The left side provides the "Spectre" name, while the right side shows its processor sticker and the familiar "Bang & Olufsen" brand.

The choice of which USB Type-C port to utilize for charging is a luxury that is slowly becoming increasingly common. Notice how reflective the laptop is in the back. Great care was taken to avoid getting fingerprints all over it, which, while worth it now, may grow into a nuisance eventually.

An LED indicator provides confirmation that the laptop is receiving power regardless of which port is being used.

Turning on the laptop for the first time, we are greeted with the HP logo.

Setup is straightforward and standard, taking no more than five or so minutes.

Should you desire to change those settings, "Customize Settings" is an available option.

Skipping that step allows you to create an account for the PC instead of linking it to your email.

By default all of the below are checked. 

Having completed the setup, we wait for the computer itself to finish getting ready for use.

A congratulatory statement welcomes us to our new computer, which has come with only a recycling bin on the desktop, a welcoming sight to those who are used to seeing bloatware.

HP walks you through some features, such as Cortana, Norton's antivirus, Microsoft Office, etc.

Having cleared all that, we see the desktop in its complete glory for the first time.

The question mark on the bottom right brings up HP's support assistance application, in case anything needs to be updated.

Hitting the windows key shows us a rather clean dashboard, free, again, from bloatware and anything unwanted. 

HP Spectre claims to be the world's thinnest laptop which it has achieved by using exclusively USB Type-C ports for all its wired connectivity needs. What is almost unbelievable is how well it runs and how posh the device looks and feels. 

It looks so good that you can see the HP Spectre heavily advertised in the BART stations in San Francisco.

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