HP now has a Spectre for the rest of us. The previous model, although beautiful, was covered in glass — driving up both the weight and price.
- USB 3.0: 1
- USB 2.0: 1
- Optical: none
- Video: HDMI
- Ethernet: Gigabit
- Wireless: dual-channel 802.11n, Bluetooth 4.0
Although we've heard that due to its last-generation processor, you can now find the original Spectre for a steal through auction sites, the Spectre XT brings you a current-day processor in the form of the Core i5 3317U, 4GB of RAM and a 128GB Samsung SSD. It's no longer covered in glass, instead opting for aluminium and plastic, and the screen has been swapped out from a nice, vibrant 1600x900 panel to a bog-standard, LG-supplied, low colour-saturation 1366x768 alternative.
Speakers also seemingly get a downgrade; the original Spectre was by no means amazing in the audio department, even with Beats Audio turned on, and the new Spectre XT comes across as quite weak. As is the case with most laptops, bring your headphones.
The backlit keyboard is still excellent, though, and the touch pad is almost as good — you do have an option to two-finger click to get a right menu, although for some reason two-finger tap isn't enabled.
The XT falls a little behind the competition on expandability — only one USB 3.0 port is included on the left-hand side, with a single USB 2.0 port on the right. An SD card reader, HDMI port, headset jack and gigabit Ethernet finish up the physical ports, while wireless is handled by 2.4GHz 802.11n and Bluetooth 4.0.
HP continues its excellent practice of including Adobe Photoshop and Premiere Elements free of charge on top of the usual Windows 7 install.
Handbrake encoding (in seconds)
HP Envy Spectre XT (Core i5 3317U, 4GB RAM, 128GB SSD)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Despite featuring a mechanical hard drive and the same processor, Toshiba's Satellite U840W manages to outclass the Spectre XT in the Handbrake and Multimedia tests, with the only potential suspect for the extra performance being the extra RAM. The Spectre XT's SSD allows it to claw back Photoshop performance, though.
Battery life (time)
- Heavy battery test
- Light battery test
- 6h 58m
- Dell XPS 14 (Core i7 3517U, 8GB RAM, 500GB HDD, GeForce GT 630M)
- 6h 27m
- HP Folio 13 (Core i5 2467M, 4GB RAM, 128GB SSD)
- 6h 7m
- HP Envy 14 Spectre (Core i5 2467M, 4GB RAM, 128GB SSD)
- 5h 42m
- Fujitsu Lifebook U772 (Core i5 3427U, 4GB RAM, 500GB HD + 32GB SSD cache)
- 5h 23m
- Asus ZenBook UX31 (Core i7 2667M, 4GB RAM, 256GB SSD)
- 5h 21m
- Toshiba Satellite U840W (Core i5 3317U, 6GB RAM, 500GB HDD)
- 5h 10m
- HP Envy 6 1010TU (Core i5 2467M, 4GB RAM, 500GB HDD)
- 5h 8m
- Toshiba Satellite Z830 (Core i5 2467M, 4GB RAM, 128GB SSD)
- 4h 52m
- Samsung Series 5 Ultra 13.3-inch (Core i5 2467, 4GB RAM, 128GB SSD)
- 4h 41m
- Samsung Series 5 Ultra 14-inch (Core i5 2467M, 4GB RAM, 500GB HDD, Radeon HD 7550M)
- 4h 30m
- HP Envy Spectre XT (Core i5 3317U, 4GB RAM, 128GB SSD)
- 4h 25m
- Sony Vaio T 11.6 (Core i5 3317U, 8GB RAM, 128GB SSD)
- 4h 21m
- Asus ZenBook Prime UX31A (Core i7 3517U, 4GB RAM, 256GB SSD)
- 3h 21m
- Asus ZenBook UX21 (Core i7 2667M, 4GB RAM, 128GB SSD)
- 2h 54m
- Acer Aspire S3 (Core i5 2467M, 4GB RAM, 320GB HDD)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
In a break away from its recent run, the XT doesn't do as well as HP's previous laptops, not even hitting the five-hour mark on our light battery test. This isn't bad, but there are longer-living laptops out there.
HP's Envy Spectre XT is an attractive package that has taken some shortcuts to bring the price down. While it's pretty and features an excellent keyboard, for the price we'd expect better connectivity and longer battery life.