HP Spectre XT hands-on

HP's ditched the original Spectre's glass lid for its new Spectre XT Ultrabook - find out what we think of it, upon reflection

HP whisked us off to Shanghai for its Global Influencer Summit, where we got our hands on its latest shiny metal slab - the MacBook Air-baiting Spectre XT. How does it measure up? Read on.

HP Spectre XT - design and build

HP's newest Ultrabook, the Spectre XT, is a wedge of aluminium that could serve a dual purpose as an expensive doorstop - 14.5mm thin at its thickest point.

Unlike the Spectre's iPhone 4S-style glass lid, the Spectre XT has an all-aluminium design. On the plus side, that means it's not a fingerprint magnet - and it helps keep the weight down to a manageable 3.07lbs (1.39kg) at 327x221x14.5mm. On the downside, that does strip away one of the Spectre's most distinctive features, leaving it looking like just another MacBook Air clone.

Round the back, an angular clasp holds the 13.3in screen (1366x768) in place - bearing an etched Hewlett Packard logo, rather than the HP roundel, in a nice touch. A slightly raised glass trackpad, sporting a single rocker button, replaces the original Spectre's rather feeble effort. Naturally, it's multitouch and supports gesture recognition. We liked the Spectre XT's backlit chiclet keyboard which comes as standard.

HP Spectre XT - technical specs

Inside, the Spectre XT that we got our paws on came with a Core i7 Ivy Bridge processor - so, plenty of bang for your Ultrabook. It also packed in 4GB of RAM, though others had different configurations. The XP is fitted with a 128GB SSD as standard - so it should be able to get at your precious data in a hurry - though a 256GB SSD is available as an optional extra.

HP describes the Spectre XT's 13.3in screen as "HD," though it's keeping schtum on the exact resolution. The XT also comes with Intel's Rapid Start and Smart Connect, the former for quick boot and resume times - which we'll put to the test in a full review - the latter for updating e-mail while the laptop's in sleep mode. HP claims up to eight hours of battery life for the Spectre XT, though you'll have to wait for a full review before we can see how close that is to reality.

HP Spectre XT - Beats Audio

Like all of HP's trio of new lappys, the Spectre XT comes packing Beats Audio - with a more discreet logo than some of its recent efforts. The Spectre XT comes packing quad speakers tucked away behind a grille beneath the screen - though we didn't get a chance to hear them in action at the HP event. Not that we'd have been able to hear them in any case, HP having hired out a noisy metal shed for the occasion.

HP Spectre XT - connectivity

The Spectre XT comes packing a pair of USB 3.0 ports - one on each side - along with an HDMI out and an SD card slot. In order to keep its svelte profile, the Spectre XT's gigabit Ethernet port is partly covered by a little plastic flap - a nifty little touch, though we could see it snapping off if you handle it roughly.

HP Spectre XT - Software

HP's loaded the XT up with goodies - as well as Adobe Photoshop Elements and Premiere Elements 10, you also get two years' worth of Norton Internet Security, a year's worth of Absolute Data Protect and Intel Identity Protection. You also get access to HP's dedicated concierge service for Spectre users - shades of AppleCare there. All that tech, software and support doesn't come cheap, though - expect to pay a starting price of £900 when the Spectre XT hits the UK at the end of June.

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