HP ENVY Spectre XT Ultrabook Review
Ultrabooks, whether you favor them or not, are here in full force. Manufacturers left and right are releasing ultrabook after ultrabook, so now the question isn’t “who could make the fastest ultrabook?” but rather “who could make the fitting looking ultrabook?” Ultrabooks invite style – the whole idea behind them is to offer consumers an extremely portable and speedy laptop, in spite of everything. You don’t need your super fast ultrabook to looking boring and plain, right? Obviously you do not. You desire your ultrabook to be sleek and well-designed. HP knows this, introducing us to ENVY Spectre XT, and it’s certainly easy at the eyes. But does the Spectre XT have what’s required at the inside, or will it’s doomed to using its beauty to get by? Read directly to discover.
It should be said right off the bat: the HP ENVY Spectre XT is a pretty machine, and a miles cry from HP laptops of the past. Whereas old HP laptops had an inclination to go looking cheaply made, the Spectre XP seems like an improved-end piece of kit. The brushed metal chassis looks great, as do the ports at the side and the speaker grill that has taken up residence above the keyboard. This ultrabook will certainly turn some heads, so when you are available in the market for a machine so one can get some attention, you’d like look no further than the Spectre XT.
On the exterior, now we have a lovely minimalistic look. At the right side of the device, the ability jack, a USB 3.0 port, an SD card slot, and a headphone jack have taken up residence, while the Ethernet port, full-sized HDMI port, and another USB 3.0 port are found at the left side. The Ethernet port encompasses a hinge that keeps the port flush with the remainder of the machine when there is no cable attached, that’s a very nice touch – too often, we have got the look of those sleek ultrabooks ruined by an unpleasant square Ethernet port that does not really fit with the total design. There is not anything really noteworthy at the bottom of the machine other than a couple of speakers (more on those later) and grills for air intake and cooling.
For nearly as good because it looks, there’s one aspect of its design that leaves me feeling somewhat nervous. The screen is hooked up to the remainder of the unit through two hinges, which provides me the sensation that it wouldn’t take much to snap the Spectre XT in half. i am not willing to check that feeling, in fact, but its lightweight and skinny design adds to the concept it is a delicate machine. In the event you pick one up, be prepared to regard it gently – this definitely isn’t an ultrabook you could be rough with. Having said that, most ultrabooks nowadays tend to be a bit at the delicate side, so i am not sure that the Spectre XT’s fragile design has to be successful against it.
In short, the Spectre XT probably is not the best machine for those that are clumsy or don’t believe much concerning the abuse they put their devices through. Though it’s one awesome looking machine, you will have to take care to regard it well, because in spite of everything, sexy looks won’t mean much whenever you destroy your Spectre XT, whether that’s an accident or a case of negligence.
The Spectre XT looks excellent – there is not any question about that, but reckoning on how much you crave power, its internals may disappoint some. That’s not much of surprise, on the grounds that most ultrabooks attempt to strike a balance between speedy internals and reasonable prices, and the Spectre XT is not any different. Let’s start things off with the processor. The Spectre XT has an Intel Core i5 processor with Ivy Bridge microarchitecture, that’s about as middle-of-the-road as you will get in the case of Intel hardware. That is not to claim that the processor is terrible, as its 1.7GHz clock speed should keep things moving pretty quickly.
The Spectre XT also comes equipped with Intel’s rapid start technology, which means both boot and resume-from-sleep times might be pretty short. The truth that the Spectre XT uses a 128GB SSD for storage helps with that too, as does the 4GB of DDR3 RAM. 128GB is a bit at the light side, especially when around 30GB could be used for system recovery. That leaves you with just below 100GB of accessible space for storing to take advantage of, but to take full benefit of that, you are going to must delete the software that comes pre-installed at the Spectre XT.
Luckily, you possibly can decide to upgrade to a 256GB SSD whilst you purchase the Spectre XT, but on the end of the day, that also isn’t much. Everything is moving toward digital in this day and age, or even though you’ll likely like to play your movies and games on another machine, it can not be long before you end up making room in your SSD, especially in the event you select the 128GB XT variant. The quicker SSD is actually nice, however the loss of significant internal space for storing makes someone like me, who embraces the digital age with open arms, cringe.
The screen is good, but it surely isn’t anything we have not seen before on other ultrabooks. You’ve 13.3-inches of real estate to work with, running at a maximum of 1366×768 resolution. That implies no 1080p HD, but we cannot really expect that from an ultrabook this is speculated to be lightweight and simple to move. Still, even supposing there is not any 1080p HD, it is going to has been nice to peer the Spectre XT running at a resolution apart from 1366×768, especially because the look of this ultrabook screams “high-end.” The screen has a glossy finish, this means that glare will inevitably be an issue at least one time shortly. Viewing angles also are quite touchy – for the foremost vibrant visuals, you will probably must perform a little adjusting, or you is perhaps managing washed out images on-screen. Despite this, the screen does be capable to look brilliant in the event you get the very best viewing angle down, and i am pleased to report that the screen is plenty bright as well.
The Spectre XT uses Intel 4000 integrated graphics, that’s disappointing by not unexpected. Integrated graphics would be enough for the mainstream consumer, but don’t expect to do much gaming in this guy. Indie games and other programs that are not too graphics-intensive will run just fine, but when you may have need of a working laptop or computer that offers solid graphics power, you will likely desire to look elsewhere.
If there’s something i’ve the overpowering urge to rave about, it is the keyboard. You have the identical chiclet style keys which are found on most notebooks nowadays, but they give a lovely sound if you end up typing up a storm. If I had an HP representative next to me immediately, I’d kiss them for not skimping at the size of the keys either. Some thing that drives me nuts with a considerable number of ultrabook keyboards is that the enter, shift, and backspace keys are frequently gotten smaller. Not this time around – you have got a whole-sized enter key, so that you should not have to examine the keyboard each time you’ll want to hit it. It may possibly look like a small feature, but to people who use a working laptop or computer all day, will probably be a huge plus.
The keyboard also looks great at nighttime. The backlighting is vibrant, considering that each secret’s individually lit. Which means you will not must worry about areas which might be more illuminated than others, and each key’s really easy to look at nighttime. Workaholics, take into accout – you can use this ultrabook anywhere, at any time of day, attributable to the superbly backlit keyboard.
The trackpad is amazingly good too, offering the ideal amount of resistance for my part. Two-finger scrolling is spot on, and double tapping the icon within the upper left hand corner will turn off the trackpad’s functionality, meaning that a fast double tap is all you must just remember to don’t actually brush the keypad and screw up everything within the blink of an eye fixed (trust me, it happens for all time, especially with overly sensitive trackpads).
Press anywhere at the trackpad and it’ll respond with a really satisfying click, leaving no doubt as to if or not your click actually registered. The trackpad is sort of perfect, but there’s one problem i’ve got with it: the entire thing is one unit. The shortage of tangible, separate left and right mouse buttons implies that sometimes you’ll left click after you mean to right click and vice versa. The trackpad is just a little at the tiny side too, which compounds this problem. It is not the most important issue, but I’m sucker for real buttons, or at the least some indication of where I’m pressing.
|Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit)|
|Intel Core i5-3317U|
|GenuineIntel Family 6 Model 58 Stepping 9|
|32.0 KB||32.0 KB|
|256 KB||3.00 MB|
|3.94 GB DDR3 SDRAM 799MHz||99.9 MHz|
Positioned above the keyboard is a grill for the speakers. There are four internal speakers in all, complete with Beats Audio branding. Sadly, the speakers were just a little at the disappointing side. They’re certainly better than the speakers on most laptops and ultrabooks, but even Beats Audio couldn’t stop these from sounding tinny when the amount is cranked up. Bass also isn’t what it’ll be, so in the event you value bumping lows should you take heed to songs, you must probably consider something different. Remember that they are not terrible; they’re just not excellent. They could definitely get loud though, but i am not sure that needs to be big plus. In the end, what good are loud speakers if the sound quality is off?
The speakers will serve their purpose though, they usually have the capacity to do their job decently. However, in case you take your music quality seriously, you almost certainly have already got a couple of actually good headphones that you should use instead, so you need to elect those.
The model we got to study came running Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit, but users can upgrade that to either Professional 64-bit or Ultimate 64-bit. For many, Home Premium would be sufficient, nevertheless it is sweet to find a way to upgrade in case you choose.
Some of what is installed at the Spectre XT is things you might actually use, including a free two-year subscription to Norton AntiVirus. The one downside to having Norton along for the ride is that it’s going to annoy you with pop-ups whenever you switch the pc on or wake it up from sleep, so activate it once you get your Spectre XT out of the box to avoid wasting yourself some headaches.
The Spectre XT also comes equipped with full versions of Adobe Photoshop Elements 10 and Adobe Premiere Elements 10, that are really nice to peer. HP gets big kudos for including those. The free subscription to Norton and Adobe Elements are the foremost notable pre-installed programs, but aside from those, there’s still an excellent amount of unnecessary software you will have to go through. CyberLink YouCam is there that allows you to use it with the HP TrueVision HD webcam, however certainly isn’t needed, making it a very good candidate for deletion. You’ve also got Internet Explorer on board, that’s expected but still as lame as ever – ditch it and opt for one more browser like Chrome, Firefox, or Opera instead.
Of course, Microsoft programs are there in full force, including Microsoft Office Starter 2010, which you will should want to keep around. Others, like Windows Live Movie Maker and and Windows Live Messenger is frequently left untouched by the vast majority of consumers, so do not feel too bad with a view to lose those in the event you get your Spectre XT booted up and able to go – remember, space for storing is at a premium, so when you see programs that you simply aren’t going to exploit, it is a better idea to delete them in preference to allowing them to loiter around.
It’s time to show to our old friend Geekbench, which tells us what we already knew: with the Spectre XT, you are not getting a powerhouse. The computer’s specs are merely average, but you need to remember that here is aimed toward the mainstream crowd, which is not exactly power hungry. Folks that take tech very seriously should want to skip the Spectre XT, but rest assured, that is one speedy computer.
|Integer||Processor integer performance||5352|
|Floating Point||Processor floating point performance||9698|
|Stream||Memory bandwidth performance||6890|
In that respect, the Geekbench results is really a little deceiving. For such things as browsing, the Spectre XT could be plenty fast. As stated above, integrated graphics and a center-of-the-line processor mean that there’s not much within the way of sheer power to work with, however the RAM, SSD, and CPU make sure that you possibly can do basic tasks quickly. If that is what you are looking for in an ultrabook (as you have to be) then the Spectre XT is worthy of your attention.
Sadly, the 4-cell lithium-ion battery at the Spectre XT isn’t all it’s going to be. HP says that we will expect 8 hours of power, but in my very own tests, i did not get nearly that much life out of the XT.
To test the Spectre XT, i began at 100% (obviously), turned the screen brightness all the way down to 50%, kept WiFi on, and proceeded to play games (Plants vs. Zombies and Wizorb, if you are wondering), browse the net, and watch some videos. The pc powered right down to prevent any data loss right round the 4 hour and 30 minute mark, in order that was the top of the test.
Of course, battery life goes to differ looking on what you’re doing, but when you travel and want to work on battery frequently, there are other ultrabook choices that include an extended lasting battery. For everybody else, the battery will probably still be sufficient provided you do not spend too terribly long clear of the charger, but there are still better choices available in the market in the case of battery life.
I know that a number of things during this review sound pretty negative, however the HP ENVY Spectre XT is really a lovely solid ultrabook. The battery is disappointing and the speakers, despite sporting Beats Audio branding, aren’t anything to jot down home about, but as opposed to that, the Spectre XT is able to running with the simplest of them (ultrabooks, which is).
Of course, in relation to ultrabooks, them all strive for a similar thing: portability and speed. The Spectre XT is lightweight and sufficiently small that i am unable to imagine portability ever being a difficulty. Likewise, it is a fast little machine, and if that’s your primary concern in terms of deciding upon a brand new computer, then you definately won’t be disappointed with the Spectre XT.
It’s one sexy ultrabook too. There are others that look corresponding to the Spectre XT, however the brushed metal gets me on every occasion. The keyboard is basically something great, and the trackpad is simply a pair missing features faraway from perfection. Since you will get to understand the keyboard and trackpad quite well over the process some time with the Spectre XT, that’s just a great point.
However, all of that sexiness comes with a worth, both figuratively and literally. The Spectre XT definitely feels a piece fragile, and that i still can’t recover from the concept it’d be ridiculously easy to incidentally snap this thing in half. The literal price for this good looking machine is $1,000, and that certainly isn’t cheap. i believe like that’s going to prove to be a fairly large barrier for the Spectre XT’s audience, especially when the mainstream cares less about good specs and more about getting a competent computer that’s at the very least relatively inexpensive.
Don’t get me wrong here – I wasn’t expecting the Spectre XT to be a $400 piece of kit, but i think that $800 or $850 would had been a more robust asking price for this ultrabook. Still, if you’d like a terrific ultrabook and do not care much concerning the $1,000 price ticket, opt for it. The Spectre XT really is a great computer, and that i think in the event you can get past the value (and feature a pretty good pair of headphones lying around), you could have no problem loving the Spectre XT.