HP Spectre XT TouchSmart review

HP's mammoth machine is something of an ultra-ultrabook

HP Spectre XT TouchSmart Ultrabook review
The HP Spectre XT 15-4000 Ultrabook

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When you're dropping £999 / US$1,199.99 (around AU$1,463) on a laptop, you need to be sure your investment is a solid one. The HP Spectre XT TouchSmart Ultrabook shares that price point with many awesome machines - the glorious Acer Aspire S7 among them - so it's got to work hard.

We liked

The HP Spectre XT TouchSmart Ultrabook is a great looking machine. With a brushed aluminium shell accompanied by a sweet flush 15-inch touchscreen running at Full HD, it really stands out from the competition. It looks decent, sounds decent thanks to the Beats Audio branding, and it's a veritable entertainment cornerstone. So far so good.

It's also great for work, with a splendid keyboard, enough resolution real estate to pin fully usable windows to either screen edge, and storage aplenty. The fact that it's packing a hybrid drive means Windows 8 boots quickly and the HP Spectre XT TouchSmart Ultrabook is up and running in a couple of seconds.

There's a touchscreen in case you suddenly feel you need such a thing on your laptop, and the battery is acceptable if not storming.

We disliked

But we're not positive we'd put one in our travel bag. That aluminium casing is going to get scratched, and we'd suggest it has the potential to dent. Given the amount of flex in the screen, we're not sold on its hardiness.

The battery isn't as amazing as some of the others in its class. And frankly, for all its looks, it's not as beautiful as many other machines you can pick up for less money.

Perhaps the muscle that's atrophied from the HP Spectre XT TouchSmart Ultrabook was merely cosmetic. It's not a weakling by any means. But for the price we expected a little more go to complement the show of that crispy screen.

Final verdict

We'll say this, though: The HP Spectre XT TouchSmart Ultrabook is a milestone. Watch the ultrabook market over the next year. Watch as heavyweight chips join incredible screens as the norm rather than the exception.

If you pick up an HP Spectre XT TouchSmart Ultrabook now in full knowledge of its piffling flaws, you won't be disappointed - you'll just be ahead of the curve.