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Published On: Thu, Nov 1st, 2012
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HP Envy Spectre XT review – high end laptop at budget price

Envy Spectre XT is a flagship product from HP and this is a premium ultrabook. Every Spectre product from HP is a high end laptop. I think XT might relate to Xtra Thin.

HP Envy Spectre XT is the second generation ultrabook from this manufacturer and it comes with a newer Intel Core i5 processor, 128 GB SSD and big buttonlessclickpad. For audiophiles, there is Beats sound system inside. There are other premium features onboard too like backlit keyboard (which should have been standard on all the ultrabooks across the market, but isn’t) and there is also full version of Adobe Premiere Elements 10 and Adobe Photoshop Elements 10.

HP Envy Spectre XT starts at $999 and there are upgrades offered for SSD and CPU. The pricing is quite reasonable considering that this is a flagship product. The price is on par with other products like Asus Zenbook UX31. If you have got a bigger wallet and are looking for something more expensive, then there is Acer Aspire S5 and Samsung Series 9 which is equally attractive. One feature that is missing here is higher resolution for the display.

The HP EnvySpectre XT is 14.5 mm thick and the looks are quite similar to other ultrabooks in the market right now like Dell XPS 13, Apple MacBook Air and HP Folio 13. All these laptops come with a 13.3 inches display. The body tapers a bit towards the front and lid comes with brushed metal finish which goes very well with the look of both the Pavilion and Envy laptops from the same manufacturer.

This laptop might look familiar and this is because it looks the same as HP Pavilion M6 which I reviewed some time ago. The M6 is a 15 inches laptop which is priced modestly and the design is the same as that of Spectre XT.

HP Envy Spectre XT Keyboard

Looking at this laptop, I got the feeling that the manufacturer is trying to give design of Envy at price of Pavilion. Some might be turned off to see the same design on the highest end laptops from HP. The previous generation HP Envy Spectre had a glass cover over it which made it look totally different and those looks were very different from any other laptop in the market.

Keyboard :

Physically speaking, the HP EnvySpectre XT is very user friendly, which is hard to see in other laptops these days. Keyboard of this laptop has island styled, flat topped buttons and the size is right considering that this is a 13 inches laptop keyboard. I typed this review on this laptop keyboard and the keys felt quiet and firm while typing. There is no obnoxious clackiness that is seen in other smaller laptops. There is backlighting for typing in the dark and the Backspace, Tab, and Shift buttons are large enough too.

The function buttons are reversed which means that you just need to press the Function buttons for adjusting screen brightness, audio, etc. You don’t need to press the Fn button along with the relevant function button.

Touchpad :

Touchpad of the HP EnvySpectre XT is buttonless and the look is different from other laptops like Apple, Dell, etc. It has a rectangular touch surface that is set in the middle of big depression in wrist rest. This look is seen in HP’s Envy laptops and Pavilion m6 but the latter comes with right and left mouse buttons. Matte surface gives you enough of resistance without being too sticky and 2 finger scrolling was much smoother than what I expected. The manufacturer has adjusted the multitouch sensitivity very well.

HP Envy Spectre XT Review HP Envy Spectre XT Laptop Review  HP Envy Spectre XT Laptop


HP EvnySpectre XT is 13.3 inches screen has a resolution of 1,366×768 pixels. This resolution is good for a 13 inches laptop but there are other products in this price range which give 1,600×900 or full HD 1,920×1,080 pixels. With 1,366×768 pixels, the HD video will not be displayed at its fullest potential and productivity doss and Web pages may feel a bit crowded.

Connections and ports

HP Envy Spectre XT connections and ports are good considering other Ultrabooks which are short shrift in this category. In the Spectre XT, you will find HDMI, Ethernet, and USB 3.0 port.

HP Envy Spectre XT Specs

Speakers :

Just like other HP laptops and all Envy notebooks, this one has Beats Audio sound system – you will find four small speakers here. The sound quality is decent enough but if you are a gamer or movie addict, then it is recommended that you get good quality headphones.


One thing I really liked about the HP Envy Spectre XT is that it has Adobe Premiere Elements 10 and Adobe Photoshop Elements 10. They aren’t full featured ones but are powerful enough for most of us.

HP Envy Spectre XT Battery HP Envy Spectre XT Features

HP Envy Spectre XT Touchpad

Upgrades :

HP Envy Spectre XT has couple of upgrades available in the form of SSD and CPU but they are all expensive and don’t give good value for money. Opting for a 256 GB SSD will cost you $200 more which is a lot of money.

Price :

HP Envy Spectre XT price is $999 which is good enough considering the features that it offers. My only gripe is that the screen resolution could have been better.

HP Envy Spectre XT Price

Processor :

My HP Envy Spectre XT had Intel Core i5 low voltage CPU which is the same that is seen on other 13 inches laptops. The numbers in the performance reflect this and the scores are similar to other laptops in different price range right from the cheaper laptops like Dell Inspiron 13z to the more expensive ones like Samsung Series 9. All these notebooks are fast enough for tasks like productivity, Web surfing, photo editing, HD video playback, etc.


HP Envy Spectre XT comes with basic Intel HD 4000 GPU and this isn’t good enough for heavy gaming. That said, this card can still handle basic gaming and in my test, I got 24.8 fps while playing Street Fighter IV and Just Cause 2 gave me 19.5 fps.  I played both the games on native resolution of 1,366×768 pixels.

Battery life

HP Envy Spectre XT review says that the battery life could have been better. My review model could run for four hours and 13 minutes in my battery drain tests. Compared to this, Dell Inspiron 13z could go for one hour more and Samsung Series 9 13 inches laptop ran for two hours and 40 minutes longer. You won’t be able to get an entire day of work on this laptop battery.

HP Envy Spectre XT

Services :

HP Envy Spectre XT comes with some premium services onboard. There is two years warranty offered along with premium level support over the phone. There is also 2 year free subscription of Norton Internet Security.

Conclusion :

HP Envy Spectre XT is a high end laptop offered at mainstream price. I loved the thin look of this laptop, it is very light and user friendly. But the design could have been better. This is a great laptop for working in coffee shop but the battery life could have been better.

My review system :

  • $999 price
  • 1.7GHz Intel Core i5-3317U chip
  • 4GB, 1,600Hz DDR3 memory
  • 128GB SSD storage
  • Intel HM77 chipset
  • Intel HD 4000 integrated graphics
  • Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit) OS
  • 12.4×8.8 inches width x depth
  • 0.7 inch height
  • 13.3 inches screen size (measured diagonally)
  • 4 pounds weight with power adapter

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