The Ultrabook market has quickly gained speed over the past few months and it’s only going to get faster now that Windows 8 is already here. We can expect many more models to come in the next few weeks. But, just before Windows 8 was launched, HP launched its Spectre XT Ultrabook. It’s priced in the range of the newly-launched MacBook Air models.
Video Review : HP Spectre XT
The HP Spectre XT comes with Intel Ivy Bridge class of processors, specifically the Core i5 3317U, which is a pretty low-power line processor designed to be efficient. There’s 4GB of RAM on it along with Intel’s standard HD4000 series integrated graphics solution. You also get a 128GB solid-state drive, which should help with performance but won't be of much help for bulk data storage. The notebook has a 13-inch screen that runs a resolution of 1366 x 768.
Mostly made of metal
Most ultrathin notebooks lack an optical drive and the Spectre XT is no exception to that trend. so you’ll have to use the USB port to install applications apart from the Internet. There is Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and even a memory card reader. The Ethernet port is typically quite thick as an object as well, so HP has implemented a collapsible port that folds to fit in well with the thickness of the Ultrabook when it’s not in use. There are two USB ports, but we would’ve preferred if it came with one or two more.
The hinge on the Spectre XT isn't too sturdy or flexible
Like with some of its other products, HP has branded this product with Beats by Dr. Dre; it comes with Beats audio speakers. HP bundles Windows 7 Home Premium on the Spectre XT.
Design and build quality
HP has got the look of the Spectre XT just right. It’s solid and quite the looker, and it clearly draws a lot of attention as we learnt during the duration of the review. It’s made mostly of metal and has the basic look and feel of the MacBook Airs. Both the top and the insides of the notebook have brushed metal finishes. The edge of the insides of the Spectre XT has a clean, glossy finish to it, which makes the product look very stylish and elegant indeed.
Brushed metal top
The keys are isolated and smaller, considering the smaller form factor of the Ultrabook. The spacing is a tad too much and the feel of the keyboard is somewhat similar to that of a MacBook Air. Overall, it’s easy to use and get used to. It’s also backlit, so you can turn it on even when it’s dark and type without being completely lost.
Memory card reader, USB and audio ports on the right side
The trackpad has no clear buttons for the two clicks. The clicks are pretty tactile, but we’re not too fond of it. There are clearly better click buttons on notebooks out there.
An Ultrabook is more than just a fashion statement; it has to be a combination of performance and features for a product such as this to be attractive. In terms of CPU performance, it’s very easily comparable to some of the other notebooks we’ve tested in this price range.
Actually a decent Ultrabook to consider
One of the big performance boosts you’ll find, however, is in the file system tests. The fact that it’s powered by an SSD means that you get ridiculous read and write speeds. In our test, we found read speeds to be well over 450MB/s and write speeds to be around 250MB/s. That along with Intel’s Rapid Start feature allows the notebook to step out of standby mode in a second or two. Loading of software in general is also rather quick. The only downside to the SSD is the storage space. The 128GB SSD is likely to fill up very quickly and you’ll have to depend on external storage drives to store your data. PC Mark 7 throws up a score of 4925 while 3D Mark Vantage gives an overall score of 9084.
The Spectre XT doesn’t do so well when it comes to video encoding and POVRay. The gaming performance isn’t spectacular either. The integrated HD4000 graphics solution is able to run older games without any problem, but recent games with high-quality graphics might be difficult to run. There’s some heating towards the rear of the notebook, which can be felt from under the Ultrabook. The Spectre XT is silent for the most part, but the exhaust at the rear does get pretty noisy when the load increases.
The screen quality is decent but viewing angles are pretty bad, especially when you look at it from above. Audio quality isn’t too great and the speakers distort at higher volumes.
Verdict and Price in India
Lightweight and easy to carry around
The HP Spectre XT is a decent Ultrabook. It’s pretty light and is very attractive. In terms of performance, it isn’t sluggish and the battery life is pretty impressive. Priced at Rs 64,990 in India, it’s not the most affordable Ultrabook out there, but is surely worth its price if you’re travelling a lot and need a portable notebook as company.
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