February 4, 2013
- Attractive design
- Comfortable keyboard
- Beautiful 1080p touch-screen display
- Strong performance
- Below average battery life
- Only integrated graphics
The HP Spectre XT TouchSmart Ultrabook 15t-4000, besides having a long name, has a sleek design, a comfortable keyboard and a Thunderbolt peripheral port. It also has speedy performance thanks to its Intel Core i7 CPU and 8GB of RAM, but battery life is lacking.
The 15t-4000 is HP's Windows 8 update of the HP Spectre XT, which has always been one of our favorite laptops in the past. This update now includes a brushed aluminum lid that gives it a little more Apple MacBook Pro-like appearance. The bottom of the laptop has a soft-touch finish that makes it easy to hold while carrying. It measures 14.9 x 10.0 x 0.9-inches (wdh), which is slimmer than other similar high-end Ultrabooks. Its 5-pound weight is about mid-range for the same category.
HP chose an island-style keyboard that is rather spacious even though there is still quite a bit of space on either edge of the keyboard. We found the backlit keyboard to be very comfortable to use and provided good feedback with each click of a key. The multitouch click pad worked well and allowed us to perform Windows 8's touch gestures without any problem.
The Spectre XT comes with a 15.6-inch 1920 x 1080-pixel HD touch-screen display. We believe this display is one of the best we've seen on a laptop. It was very bright and delivered vibrant colors and good contrast. Viewing angles were extremely wide to accommodate multiple people. Our only complaint was the glossy coating on the display, which led to a lot of reflections on the screen.
The touch-screen aspect to the display worked well and definitely seemed responsive and accurate as well.
For ports, the HP Spectre XT TouchSmart Ultrabook 15t-4000 includes two USB 3.0 ports, a Thunderbolt port, one USB 2.0 port, HDMI-out, Ethernet, the usual audio jacks and an SD card reader. The Thunderbolt port allows you to use 10GB per second file transfer speeds for Thunderbolt-compatible external hard drives. USB 3.0 has a maximum of 5GB per second, so it delivers twice the speed. These Thunderbolt peripherals are still fairly rare, but you can find some from Western Digital and LaCie.
Our review 15t-4000 included an Intel Core i7-3517U (1.9GHz) CPU, 8GB of RAM, a 5400RPM 500GB hard drive, a 32GB solid-state drive and integrated Intel HD 4000 graphics. A PCMark 7 benchmark yielded a score of 4,640, which is more than 1,000 points than the category average. In real-world use, we found it to be very speedy and definitely seemed able to handle anything you throw at it. The solid-state drive made Windows 8 boot up times very quick at about 20 seconds.
The integrated Intel graphics limit you to just watching HD video and some moderate 3D gaming. Playing any heavy 3D games at full HD resolution just simply isn't possible with this laptop.
Battery life is this laptop's downfall at only 4-hours maximum, which is over 1.5-hours short of the category average.
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