mercredi 10 octobre 2012

HP Envy Spectre XT review

Although we were fans of the HP Envy 14 Spectre, we thought that it was a bit chunky and heavy for an Ultrabook.

Fortunately, HP addresses both issues with its latest Ultrabook, the 13.3in Envy Spectre XT. We were on hand at the official launch in China to take a first look at this laptop.

Although the Envy 14 Spectre was a good-looking laptop, the new Spectre XT is by far the more attractive computer. With it's Chiclet-style keyboard and all-metal cases, comparisons to the 13-inch MacBook Air are inevitable. We think that HP has come close, but we slightly prefer the MacBook's long integrated hinge, rather than the dual-hinges of the Spectre XT.

The HP Envy Spectre XT is a good looking laptop and a lot thinner than the previous Ultrabook, the Envy Spectre 14.
We only had time to use the keyboard quickly, but our initial tappings showed that it's comfortable to type on. A large touchpad (or HP Imagepad if you want to use the company's vernacular) dominates the bottom of the laptop. It supports multi-touch gestures, although these aren't as smooth as on the MacBook Air due to Windows 7; Windows 8 should improve this when it's released later in the year. For standard desktop use, though, the touchpad felt accurate and responsive to us.
Measuring just 14.4mm deep, there's no denying that the Spectre XT is a slim laptop, but it's good to see that there's a full range of ports. Many Ultrabooks ditch the Ethernet port to save on space, relying on a USB adaptor instead, but HP hasn't. Instead, the Spectre XT has a fold-down Gigabit Ethernet port that expands when you need to plug in a cable, but closes up when you're travelling or using wireless.
Although it's only 14.4mm deep, there are full-size Ethernet, HDMI and USB ports.
In addition, the laptop also has a full-size USB ports for fast external storage, plus a full-size HDMI output for when you want to connect your laptop to an external display. There's also an SDXC card slot.
USB 3.0 and card reader slots complete the line-up of ports.
Beats Audio is built in and is supported over the laptop's quad-speakers and via the headphone output. We've not been impressed with Beats Audio before and the room we were in was too loud to accurately test the audio quality of this laptop, so we'll have to reserve final judgement until we have a Spectre XT in for review.
As you'd expect from a laptop that's this thin, weight has also been dramatically reduced from the Spectre 14's, down from 1.8kg to 1.395kg. For comparison, that's bang-on the same weight as the 13-inch MacBook Air.

The slim chassis means that the Envy Spectre XT is also just 1.4kg.
Our limited time with the laptop showed that the screen looked bright with very good viewing angles. It's a little disappointing that the Spectre XT will only be available with a screen resolution of 1,366x768. While this resolution feels fine on an 11in laptop, on a larger screen it doesn't look particularly sharp. It's a shame that there's no option to upgrade to a 1,600x900 or Full HD 1,920x1,080 screen.
It's good to see that new technology is being used inside, with Intel 3rd Generation Core (Ivy Bridge) processors standard inside. Storage is handled by an mSATA drive, with models up to 256GB available.