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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  • StealthGhost - Monday, May 27, 2013 - link

    I don't see the point In an ultrabook that has to stay connected to the wall because it only gets 3 hours of battery life.
  • deeps6x - Monday, May 27, 2013 - link

    So much to dislike already about this laptop and I didn't even get past the spec sheet on the first page. To start, you put a frickin' hard drive in your premium product? Come on HP. I thought you were smarter than that. Nobody wants the heat and noise. 1080P, IPS? Yes! Glossy touch screen? FAIL. FAIL HARD!!! No need to read further. Jumped to comments. First comment is about another fail - junk battery as well it appears. My oh my. So disappointing HP. Sad.
  • CSMR - Monday, May 27, 2013 - link

    Stupid comment. This products "fails" to be suitable for you, but not everyone is like you.

    Hard drive + SSD is an excellent combination for people who want both an extremely responsive system and storage space. A 500GB SSD would be better but such a laptop would be much more expensive.
  • Egg - Monday, May 27, 2013 - link

    There are very few matte touch screens. Have you ever seen a matte touch screen at say, a POS kiosk or an ATM? Touching it quickly wears down the finish so you have glossy spots on the screen. See for an example of a rare matte touchscreen that doesn't have this problem.

    If you're complaining about a touchscreen itself, well it's somewhat useful for Windows 8.
  • Voldenuit - Tuesday, May 28, 2013 - link

    Lenovo Thinkpad X230T has a matte touch (and active digitizer!) screen. I should know, I got one for my wife last xmas.
  • WhiteAdam - Wednesday, May 29, 2013 - link

    Love my job, since I've been bringing in $82h… I sit at home, music playing while I work in front of my new iMac that I got now that I'm making it online. (Home more information)
  • rvd2008 - Tuesday, June 4, 2013 - link

    "Come on HP. I thought you were smarter than that."
    Are you kidding? After Touchpad, WebOS and Autonomy fiasco? Think again, same board of directors who appointed Apotheker rule HPQ with Meg Whitman at the helm. What can go wrong?
  • StormyParis - Monday, May 27, 2013 - link

    I disagree with your dislike of SSD cache. I'd rather my laptop have a small SSD cache and some real storage, than a full SSD that will be 1- holding stuff that doesn't require speed (data files, media, rarely used codeà 2- small 3- expensive. I think HP have made a good trade off here.
  • arthur449 - Monday, May 27, 2013 - link

    An HDD is only acceptable in a computer if you don't care about or have control over all the software running in the background. If I'm going to recommend this device to anyone, and they're not going to take the time to cut away the useless bundled crapware, then its not an acceptable experience.

    A single SSD in a store-bought PC like this is a necessity, not an option, for a positive out-of-the-box experience. (Of course, that depends on whether or not they chose an absolutely horrid SSD, but that's what reviews like these are for.)
  • hughlle - Monday, May 27, 2013 - link

    Necessity? Don't be silly. Positive out-of-the-box experience is completely subjective. Next people will be telling me that 4gb of ram is a necessity in this regard, or 64 bit etc.

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