HP Spectre One: Not quite all-in-one
HP's Spectre One is in large part, a successful all-in-one design. But unlike some of the similarly-priced competition, it lacks a touchscreen and a TV tuner. The latter is a popular option for all-in-ones, which often double as entertainment centers in space-challenged abodes. That said, you can add TV via USB, and there's an HDMI input, so if you're not hooked on fingerprints all over your display, it could quite possibly fit your needs
Display and Input Ergonomics
The Spectre One's 23.1-inch display isn't best in class, but it's miles better than the 24-inch unit included with the recently reviewed Vizio C24T-A4. Videos and games look good, though the thick glossy overlay (which can fool you into thinking it's a touchscreen, and make you wonder why it's not) does cause some glare.
Input-wise, the Spectre One ships with style-matched peripherals in the form of a wireless keyboard, touchpad, and mouse. The mouse with its sharp angles is a bit of styling stretch, but at least it's the same color. Edges on mice tend to dig into your hand over time, so call that unit less than optimal.
The keyboard has a slightly undersized layout and the keys are short-travel. Said keys are sculpted, so once your fingers are oriented properly, it's type-able, if delicately so. The touchpad snuggles up to the keyboard to appear almost as one with it, and was decently responsive. All in all, wireless is nice, but HP could've done a bit better with the peripherals.
Connectivity, Performance, and Features
Two of the Spectre One's USB ports are 3.0 and handily located on the side of the base. There are also USB 2.0 ports are on the back of the base and the third underneath, filled with a USB wireless dongle for the input peripherals. There's also gigabit Ethernet, 802.11 a/b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0, and a NFC radio. A nice array of wireless, but currently there's not much you can do with the Near Field Communications.
Our Spectre One 23-e010se shipped with an Intel Core i7 3770T, which has a considerably lower clock frequency (2.5GHz/3.7GHz turbo) than other 3770 parts. But it also has a considerably lower 45 watt TDP (Thermal Design Power) that translates into less heat and smaller heat dissipation components--ideal for an AIO. However, it does render the Spectre One slower than one might expect if you just saw "3770". The unit scored 62 on PCWorld's WorldBench 8 test suite--low for a Core i7.
Much of that low WorldBench score, however, was due to a slow-ish 5400 rpm, 1GB Seagate ST1000LM024 HN-M101MBB hard drive. It certainly wasn't the fault of the 10GB of DDR3 memory (one 8GB module, one 2GB module). There's also an nVidia GeForce GT 610M on board, which makes for decent game play, though at nowhere near the display's native1920 by 1080 resolution. 1280 by 768 is about as far as you'll want to push most modern games on this unit.
Price and Options
You can slip into a Spectre One for considerably less than the $1699 our test configuration would set you back. Indeed, if you're willing to settle for "only" 6GB of memory, the plain version of Windows 8, and a Core i5-3470T CPU, you can grab one for $1299. You can also have our Core i7 unit with 16GB for a rather daunting $1920. Or, you could buy two 8GB DDR3 SODIMM modules for roughly $80, remove one screw, pop off the back of the stand and upgrade the memory yourself. Sadly, there are no faster hard drive or SSD options.
While the Spectre One's Beats Audio emanating from the speakers in the front of the stand is clear and tonally pleasing, it lacks bass. The Spectre One, as most computers, could use a subwoofer à la Visio's CA24T-A4. Through ear buds or headphones, the sound is top notch. But I would prefer the headset jack on the front of the unit, not on the back.
The Bottom Line
Other than the lack of a touchscreen and integrated TV (features many will willingly do without), the Spectre One is a decent option in an all-in-one PC. If you do buy one, stick with the low-end Core i5 model which is quick enough, and if you need more memory, add it yourself.
Copyright (c) 2013 PCWorld Communications, Inc.
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