September 24, 2012
- Sleek, sturdy design
- Comfortable, backlit keyboard
- Fast performance
- No VGA port
- Noisy internal fan
- Lower resolution display
The HP Envy Spectre XT is a 13-inch Ultrabook laptop that has great performance, a comfortable backlit keyboard and a sleek design. It does lack in screen resolution and has a noisy fan but it's an overall good buy for less than $1000.
The Envy Spectre XT (model number 13-2050nr) replaces the HP Folio 13, which was HP's previous 13-inch Ultrabook. The Folio 13 suffered from being larger and heavier than other Ultrabooks that were on the market and it had a dim display. We did like the performance, long battery life and design that it offered, which continues with the Envy Spectre XT.
The Envy Spectre XT measures 12.4 x 8.8 x 0.7-inches (wdh) and weighs 3.1-pounds. It has an aluminum-magnesium alloy chassis with a brushed-metal finish on the lid and keyboard deck. On the bottom there is a coating that provides a more soft surface. Overall it felt very sturdy and we really liked the design of the laptop as a whole.
HP designed a really nice keyboard that has very comfortable keys that provided a nice experience. The keyboard felt soft to the touch but didn't flex or result in incorrect key presses. The keyboard is also backlit, which is a must in our opinion.
The touch pad is adequately sized and is positioned slightly to the right instead of centered with the space bar. The surface of the pad felt nice and we didn't have any navigational issues, but tapping near the top of the pad required a heavier touch for some unknown reason.
The HP Envy Spectre XT has a 13.3-inch display with a native resolution of 1366 x 768-pixels, which is on the lower end of the spectrum when compared to other 13-inch laptops. The glossy screen also leads to a lot of reflections and mediocre off-center viewing angles. The screen is quite bright though which does produce some good-looking images.
For ports, you get HDMI-out, one USB 3.0 port, one USB 2.0 port (Sleep & Charge-enabled), Ethernet, a headphone/microphone jack and an SD media card slot. Unfortunately, there is no VGA port so connecting to an older projector or display is out of the question. There is Intel's Wireless Display (Wi-Di) technology combined with Bluetooth and 802.11n Wi-Fi wireless connectivity.
Our review configuration of the Spectre XT included a third-generation Intel Core i5-3317U (2.6GHz) CPU, 4GB of RAM, a 128GB SSD hard drive and integrated Intel HD 4000 graphics. The solid state hard drive means you'll get fast file transfer speeds and increased battery life.
A PCMark 7 benchmark with the XT gave a result of 5,425 points, which puts it at or near the top of the Ultrabook category. Real-world use also returned a pleasing result with speedy bootup times, no slow downs while multitasking and good HD video performance. Gaming with the integrated Intel GPU is limited to Web and 2D games. One thing worth note is the very noisy fan that was really audible when the performance load was moderately heavy.
Battery life clocked in at about 7 hours and 20 minutes, which is right on par with other similar laptops, so nothing to complain about here.
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