Haswell Ultrabooks Shootout Featherweight Battle Royale (Part 2) - HP Spectre 13, Lenovo Yoga 2 Pro

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4/4/2014 3:33:48 PM

HP Spectre 13

HP's Spectre range has impressed us over the years with beautiful aesthetics and premium build materials and the latest addition to the lineup, the 13.3-inch Spectre 13, is certainly no exception. Sporting a machined aluminum unibody chassis with a stylish, brushed 'truffle brown' lid and base, complemented by a 'champagne gold' interior, the Spectre 13 just oozes class — don't worry, despite their extravagant names, the brown and gold colors are actually fairly muted and tasteful.

Description: HP Spectre 13

HP Spectre 13

On the inside, HP has fitted the Spectre 13 with a nicely-sized chiclet keyboard with a firm response and fairly generous travel distance. The keyboard also sports one of the brightest backlights we've seen on an Ultrabook, which makes typing in the dark a real pleasure. Below the keyboard, you'll find HP's unique 'control zone' clickpad, one of the widest track pads we've ever seen. The clickpad consists of a regular size middle section, which feels like a normal track pad, and two sections on the left and right side with a gritty, darker gray finish. These side sections are designed to be used with Windows 8.1 - clicking anywhere in the right area will open the Windows 8.1 charms menu, while clicking the left area will display the last-used apps menu, saving you from constantly opening unwanted menus with that awkward edge-swipe gesture. Double clicking either area will take you to the tiled Modern UI screen.

The Spectre 13 is available with either a Full HD 1920 x 1080 resolution display or a QHD+ 2560 x 1440 resolution display, which rivals the display found on ASUS' Zenbook UX301. As expected, clarity on the QHD model is superb, and the display itself is also bright with excellent viewing angles.

Description: The control zone clickpad is one of the widest around

The control zone clickpad is one of the widest around

Price-wise, you pay quite a bit for the QHD display, which retails with an Intel Core i7-4500U 1.8GHz processor for $2,499, while the Full HD option (with the same processor, but a 128GB SSD) is available for $1,999.

Lenovo Yoga 2 Pro

The Lenovo Yoga 2 Pro isn't just an Ultrabook it's a tablet as well. While other manufacturers also make convertible Ultrabooks, Lenovo is the only one to completely merge its Ultrabook and convertible categories together, as it is able to offer a convertible design with absolutely no compromises in its notebook form, thanks to Lenovo's patented hinge design.

The Yoga 2 Pro is essentially the same machine as the one it's replacing, 2012's Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga, but with a few key upgrades. Along with a new Intel Core i7-4500U 1.8GHz processor, Lenovo has added an insanely high resolution 3200 x 1800 QHD+ display, which instantly makes it the king of 13.3-inch displays, surpassing the likes of HP, ASUS, and even Apple's Retina MacBook Pro. Not only that, the IPS panel is also exceptionally bright with near perfect 180 degree viewing angles.

Description: Lenovo Yoga 2 Pro

Lenovo Yoga 2 Pro

Build-wise, like the Ideapad Yoga, the Yoga 2 Pro sports an all-plastic build with a coat of scratch-resistant metallic orange (or grey) soft touch paint. We're not normally fond of plastic builds, but the finishing on the Yoga 2 Pro is top notch and neither looks nor feels cheap. The interior also has a soft leather-like textured finish that provides a comfortable surface for resting your wrists.

The keyboard on the Yoga 2 Pro is one of the best, with well-spaced, rigid individual keys and plenty of travel. The clickpad is also responsive and accurate.

As with the previous Yoga, the Yoga 2 Pro can be converted into four different usage modes: notebook, tablet, tent, and stand. The latter two modes are designed for movie-watching and media consumption.

Surprisingly, Lenovo has managed to keep the price of the Yoga 2 Pro very affordable. Despite its super high resolution display, the i5 model (which utilizes the same 256GB SSD) goes for just $1,949, while the i7 model is available for $2,099.