Channel 5

HP Spectre XT TouchSmart Ultrabook

Thursday 21 February 2013


Rating of 4

The basics

The HP Spectre XT TouchSmart is the bigger and beefier brother of the non-touch, 13-inch laptop of the same name that steps up the gorgeous all-metal design to 15-inches and includes a 10-point touch screen. Is this enough to make you splash the cash on HP's latest laptop? Wouldn’t it just be easier to opt for a MacBook? Let’s find out.

The good

As soon as you get the machine out of the box, you'll realise that it's a well constructed piece of kit: the all-metal thin chassis and brushed-silver finish scream quality, and it's all topped off with a solid backlit keyboard and plenty of ports along the side, including a Thunderbolt port for super fast data transfer. The main attraction on the TouchSmart is the 15-inch, 1080p 10-point touchscreen that is bright, sharp and offers crisp visuals. Colours look rich, and the viewing angles on the screen are also a point of pride. The touchscreen is fast, responsive and takes on all the usual Windows 8 gestures without a hitch, and there's also a webcam at the top of the screen. The machine blazes along rapidly thanks to the Intel Core i5/ processor tucked inside, along with 4GB of RAM and beefy 500GB of storage, making it perfect as a media workhorse. The keyboard is worth a second mention – it's just that good. The backlighting is uniform and not too bright, and the keys are well spaced and offer plenty of travel. A small, yet nifty feature is that the backlight is toggled by a simple function-key switch that is always lit meaning you can always light up your typing, plus you won't find any flex on this keyboard thanks to the solid construction.

The bad

One major gripe we had with the laptop was the trackpad. We had issues with scrolling and tracking, not to mention the feel of the click itself: it just feels clanky and hollow and not at all as solid as the rest of the laptop. Even with the Beats logo adorning the right hand side of the speaker grill, it's still not a qualifier of sound quality. The speakers on the TouchSmart sounded tinny when cranked up to high volumes, but the bass was not as bad as other laptops - but still nothing compared to a good pair of headphones or speakers. The graphics hardware is also underpowered, with only Intel's integrated chips powering the display. Battery life is also not its strong point, lasting around only five hours, and the price is also a bit hard to swallow too: we looked at the base model which runs for £1,199 not to mention the upgrades, including a pricey SSD option too.

The bottom line

HP has crafted a beautiful laptop, with a gorgeous, responsive 1080p touchscreen that's let down by its trackpad, battery life and enormous price. If you're not looking to do any major gaming, or you won't be too far away from a power outlet, then HP's Spectre XT TouchSmart is a great laptop that unfortunately has a few minor problems that stop it from being the best that it can be.
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HP Spectre XT TouchSmart Ultrabook is tagged with HP, spectre xt touchsmart, laptop, Windows 8, Ultrabook and PC. Select a tag (HP, for example) to find everything on The Gadget Show about the subject.

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