Review: HP Spectre XT TouchSmart
The Ultrabook that reckons it's meant for bigger things
El Reg looked at HP's 13in Spectre XT Ultrabook in October last year and liked it a lot. What you're looking at here, then, is a meatier version with a bigger display, touchscreen support, more ports and the inevitable Windows 8. I like it a lot.
It looks absolutely nothing like an Apple MacBook Pro. Not in the slightest. Nope. No way
As usual, the brushed alloy case with a notable lack of screws and seams will invite comparisons with Apple's 'unibody' MacBook Pro range. Doing so is misleading and pointless so I won't waste your time. Take it from me, HP is not copying Apple and the look-and-feel of the Spectre XT TouchSmart is nothing like that of a MacBook Pro.
Much more striking once I hinged open the computer is the immediate impression of size. The Spectre XT TouchSmart looks substantial and this is almost completely due to the big, bright and clear 15.6in display. Glossy screens are not to everyone's taste, of course, but this one is excellent and the image remains consistent and legible when viewed from the acutest of angles. Just don't sit with a window behind you on a sunny day.
When closed, the edges of the display and base are not flush: this is intentional as part of the design.
Given its history of weird and wonderful TouchSmart products, HP has been quite restrained here. Rather than relying upon over-developed, proprietary touch utilities (great for demos, almost useless for your daily work), the Spectre XT TouchSmart adheres to Windows 8 touch conventions. It is also the most responsive, latency-free Windows 8 touchscreen at this resolution (1920 x 1080 pixels) I have tested to date. Lovely.
The extra width the display affords to the overall case size has allowed HP to space out the keyboard keycaps nicely. The keyboard enjoys its own automatic backlight – a much under-rated feature that really helps when you work on the move in unpredictable ambient lighting conditions. Despite all this, I do wish the unused 3.5cm on the left and right of the keyboard could have been reclaimed for squeezing in some kind of numeric keypad. But this could be said for almost all notebook computers these days.
Despite its brushed alloy outer case, the display is too easy to tweak while adjusting its angle
The trackpad is generous at 11 x 7 cm and sensitive to those who prefer a light touch - no carpal-tunnel-crunching clicks and presses are required. Its Synaptic Clickpad 1.4 drivers support a good set of custom gestures and provide rolling mini-video demos right within the Control Panel.
Next page: Thunderbolts are go
did you say, 1200 quid?
p.s. 3 USB ports, right, how many of those USB 3.0
p.p.s. what about sd card slot?
p.p.p.s. does it come with a processor and RAM, you mention those, would you care to share the details?
p.p.p.p.s. I didn't ask about W8 v. W8 pro, but I guess I can look it up on the
p.p.p.p.p.s. presumably no wifi or 3G, let along good old LTE, cause you would have mentioned those in the review, right?
Why do I feel so alienated by the PC manufacturers
There is nothing, absolutely nothing, that I can see about this machine that would encourage me to buy one to replace my current laptop. It's -
- Too expensive.
- Too big.
- Not the screen format I want.
- Has a mirror instead of a screen.
- Encourages people to touch the screen and leave greasy finger marks.
- Probably more powerful than I need.
- Comes with an OS that I neither want nor need.
The problem is that almost every company making laptops is aiming to produce the same type of machine, meaning that there is nothing made by anybody that I would consider.
Am I really that much different from mainstream users now?
Re: how much?!
Yes, indeedy. and only 1920 x 1080 too. Now while that is some sort of improvement on 1368x768, it's not good enough for a machine costing 1200 royal portraits. Not when the Nexus 10 tablet has 2560-by-1600 and comes in at a quarter of that price.
Ethernet (not gigabit, unfortunately)
Really? What on earth were they thinking?
Leave it off for more space (not my preference, but not everyone wants an Ethernet port these days) or put in a gigabit port minimum. Especially on a 1200 machine!
That, lack of SSD and the sub par camera on a machine this expensive just seems like someone looking to make a failure!
I suppose it depends on how you type, but I dislike having numerical keypads on laptops. Not because I don't like numerical keypads, but because when the manufacturers fit them they offset the rest of the keyboard, such that the centre of the normal typing area does not line up with the centre of the screen. So I find either my head or spine twisted in a way that all the OH&S stuff says is bad, and which is actually uncomfortable after a long time too.