HP Envy Spectre XT

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.


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Craig was sucked into the endless vortex of tech at an early age, only to be spat back out babbling things like "phase-locked-loop crystal oscillators!". Mostly this receives a pat on the head from the listener, followed closely by a question about what laptop they should buy.


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.

Connectivity

  • 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.

Application performance

Choose a benchmark: Handbrake | iTunes | Photoshop | Multimedia


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


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.

Conclusion

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.



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mr_adriano
8
Rating
 

"All round great ultrabook for someone who doesn't want to splash the cash."

mr_adriano posted a review   
Australia

The Good:start-up times, speaker quality

The Bad:trackpad very slow

The beats speakers on this unit are very powerful and even at 50% capacity produce excellent sound quality. The boot up time is unbelievable, i have recorded it to be under 7 seconds from cold boot and under 4 seconds from screen close to boot.

The thing that bugs me that i think HP could have made more of an effort at is the fact that it doesn't have a independent graphics card, rather running Intel 4000HD graphics, but in saying that, so far so good as i haven't seen a drop in performance whilst watching content off YouTube. Another thing that is slightly irritating but you will get used to is the trackpad speed. It seems like its very slow, but has some cool integrated gestures that come with Windows 8 that make life a bit easier.

 

CampbellS posted a comment   

I was looking to up grade from my origional Envy 13 which I purchased refurbished from GraysOnline bit I dont think I'll be doing it.
My Envy has a LED 1400x600 screen which is still better than the XT13.
It also has a video card at only 512MB but still more than the XT13.
Ity only has a core2duo but I only use it for travelling so its fine. I would it to have a SSD drive but oh well the 240GB SATA drive suits me .
I have just purchased the 6cell slice for it more than doubleing the battery capacity. It doesnt have USB3.0 but I can live with that.
So the video card was the one thing I wanted to the XT13 to have. I'll be keeping my Envy 13 for a while yet as Ive upgraded the batteryu life and it still does everything I want it to do.

AndrewD5 Facebook
8
Rating
 

"Solid performer for a good price"

AndrewD5 posted a review   
Australia

The Good:Back-lit keyboard, touch pad, start-up times

The Bad:Vertical screen viewing angles, no photoshop or premiere

I own the Envy Spectre XT Pro which is the same as the non-Pro version but with the addition of Windows 7 Pro but WITHOUT Photoshop




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User Reviews / Comments  HP Envy Spectre XT

  • mr_adriano

    mr_adriano

    Rating8

    "The beats speakers on this unit are very powerful and even at 50% capacity produce excellent sound quality. The boot up time is unbelievable, i have recorded it to be under 7 seconds from cold boot..."

  • CampbellS

    CampbellS

    "I was looking to up grade from my origional Envy 13 which I purchased refurbished from GraysOnline bit I dont think I'll be doing it.
    My Envy has a LED 1400x600 screen which is still better t..."

  • AndrewD5

    AndrewD5

    Rating8

    "I own the Envy Spectre XT Pro which is the same as the non-Pro version but with the addition of Windows 7 Pro but WITHOUT Photoshop"

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