In and Around the HP Spectre XT TouchSmart

If nothing else, the HP Spectre XT TouchSmart is a looker. While it's hard not to feel a little bit of fatigue at all the designs essentially aping the MacBook Pro aesthetic, at least HP is doing it right with the Spectre XT TouchSmart. This is a good-looking, well built ultrabook.

The majority of the Spectre XT's shell is comprised of sturdy brushed aluminum, with the HP logo tastefully etched into the lower corner of the lid. The interior surfaces are brushed aluminum as well, excluding the display and bezel, and the bottom of the shell enjoys a soft touch coating that I think is actually a better choice than simply wrapping the whole thing in garden variety brushed aluminum.

On the interior of the notebook, there's a glossy edge-to-edge finish for the touchscreen display. Under the hinge is the first pair of speakers, with the second set hiding on the edges of the underside of the notebook. The keyboard is HP's traditional chiclet style layout and white LED backlit; they've eschewed the 10-key, but I've been told 10-key is going to be coming back in the next product cycle for notebooks in this size class. Typing action is pretty good, but it's about time for HP to retire or revise this design.

Meanwhile, I've become a pretty big believer in glass touchpad surfaces. Toshiba's Kirabook sports one, and the ones HP has been using on their higher end consumer notebooks and in their EliteBooks are frankly stellar. While I still don't care for clickpads, we're at least finally getting to the point where they make sense. Windows 8's edge gestures make a solid case for them, and HP's implementation here is a sound one.

Unfortunately, the Spectre XT TouchSmart comes a bit loaded with bloatware like a relic from a bygone era. Including PowerDVD is pointless on a notebook that has no optical drive, and WildTangent has been infecting HP hardware for too long. The touch experience is fine, but the system as a whole isn't that snappy, and you can feel the difference between a mechanical hard disk with SSD caching and a true SSD storage solution. As is becoming an unpleasant tradition with the ultrabook movement and the need for thinner, lighter form factors, the Spectre XT is not user serviceable; you're stuck with the configuration you buy.

Introducing the HP Spectre XT TouchSmart System Performance
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  • whyso - Monday, May 27, 2013 - link

    This review is of rather poor quality. Anandtech you need to look at clock speed and throttling. You comment that the cpu benchmarks are unusually low so open cpu-z and look at the clockspeed during the test that is unusually low. Also would be really nice to have you run furmark + prime and report the speed of the cpu + gpu and temperature.
  • tipoo - Monday, May 27, 2013 - link

    "I've checked clocks, run tests multiple times, but in the end still been left with a notebook that's just slower than it should be."
  • jeffkibuule - Monday, May 27, 2013 - link

    This leads to a serious question, if PC manufacturers could ever build a laptop as well designed as a retina MacBook Pro, would people shell out the extra cash to buy it? They keep saying no, but I wonder if that's really true. The product managers really need the power to say "No, this is shit, try again" instead of having to meet arbitrary deadlines.
  • tipoo - Monday, May 27, 2013 - link

    I really don't know the answer to that, currently Apple does own the high end market. It's a chicken and egg thing, do high end PCs not sell well and that's why no one will make a well thought out one, or will no one buy a high end PC laptop because there are few good offerings?
  • andrewaggb - Monday, May 27, 2013 - link

    The fact that the retina mbp's sell well indicates there is a market for high end laptops. And most software still runs on windows so it's impossible that there is no market for high end windows pc's.

    The market is crowded with average-ness. Make a good product and market it so people are aware you've made something worth buying. Works for Apple and Samsung....
  • tipoo - Monday, May 27, 2013 - link

    There's a market, sure, but the unsure thing is if anyone could dislodge Apple from it. Samsung did that in smartphones, but look what that took, they had the most costly marketing campaign for smartphones period, as far as I know. The PC market has had shrinking margins for years, plus the sales are in decline, while I don't think it will die soon or ever I suspect the heads of these companies would look at that and find it too big a risk to sink lots of R&D, new manufacturing cost, and marketing into. A booming market like smartphones, sure.
  • FreeAintFree - Monday, May 27, 2013 - link

    Anyone wanna bet HP farmed the design of this out entirely to the OEM. With final approval by accountants. OEM instructions: "Hit this price point and be sure to factor in the payments from these bloatware vendors". Pathetic and deserves to sit on the shelves and collect dust.
  • Gunbuster - Monday, May 27, 2013 - link

    Why don't you take any laptops apart anymore? There is no longer any "In" to the "In and around" page...
  • tipoo - Monday, May 27, 2013 - link

    He did say it wasn't serviceable, maybe they use some crazy screws or glue? I'd like elaboration on that too. With some internal mods some of the problems would be helped, namely the hard drive speed.
  • ananduser - Monday, May 27, 2013 - link

    I hate to bring Apple up Dustin, but you should review the 1200$ 13" MBP. First of all I believe that this is the only Apple unit that Anandtech never reviewed. Secondly I would wish to read your opinion(rather if it is at least as stern) on a 1200$ 13" laptop with a 5400rmp HDD and 1280x800 TN panel.

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