Display, Keyboard and Trackpad
The HP Spectre’s display is a 13.3-inch IPS LCD with a resolution of 1920 x 1080. This isn’t a ultra high resolution panel like you’ll find on many competitors; at just 165 PPI, it’s pretty standard for a laptop in 2016. However, I don’t really have an issue with this: the Spectre’s display is still high resolution and produces crisp text and imagery, even when viewing it from a close distance. Plus, rendering to 1080p is more friendly on battery life than QHD+ or any larger resolution.
The glossy finish to the display and its protective Gorilla Glass makes colors pop more than a matte finish, although it does mean the Spectre’s display is a fingerprint magnet. Viewing angles are superb thanks to IPS technology and the glossy finish, too.
The Spectre’s display delivers mostly excellent performance across the board. The display’s brightness is good, at around 330 nits at peak, with a fantastic contrast ratio of around 1500:1 thanks to deep blacks. General accuracy is also fantastic, recording a dE2000 value under 2.0 for saturation sweeps, indicating near perfect replication of the sRGB gamut.
There is a slight color temperature shift from the left side to right side of the display by 150K, which is barely noticeable in normal conditions and probably due to slight issues with the backlight. Other than that, this laptop should be perfect for color accurate work, especially with a few minor tweaks to tighten the color performance.
The glossy finish did trick me into thinking the display was touch-enabled initially, and there were times I tried to swipe and tap items coming from previous touchscreen laptops. It’s not a significant issue, and I don’t think touchscreens on laptops are hugely important.
For a laptop so thin, the Spectre's keyboard exhibits fantastic tactile feedback. Travel distance is very respectable – certainly several levels above the 12-inch MacBook and other ultrathin notebooks – and there is a very clicky feel that reminds of my desktop’s mechanical keyboard -- obvious differences aside.
The overall size of the keyboard is similar to a standard desktop keyboard, so it should be very easy to switch from a desktop to this laptop.
The layout is great, with no truncated keys (save for up/down arrows) and a full complement of useful functions attached to the F-keys, including media and brightness controls. Plus, the entire keyboard features backlighting, as you’d expect from a flagship notebook.
I was also impressed with the trackpad albeit it was a tad small, it's responsive and generally a pleasure to use. I did have to increase the sensitivity to a more acceptable level out of the box, but otherwise it was easy to navigate around Windows 10 and use core gestures like two-finger scrolling.