PROS / The large 15-inch touchscreen is a beautiful display that supports multi-touch gestures.
CONS / This system has a surprisingly short battery life, even with moderate use.
VERDICT / The HP Spectre XT TouchSmart ultrabook's beautiful, colorful touchscreen display pairs well with Windows 8 and is a powerful mobile-computing tool. But it is expensive.
Editor’s Note: This product has been removed from our side-by-side comparison because it is no longer available. You can still read our original review below, but Top Ten Reviews is no longer updating this product’s information.
If you are a fan of ultrabooks and love touchscreen technology, the HP Spectre XT TouchSmart is the best of both worlds. The screen has the same finish as many tablets, so you can expect responsive results without leaving smudges. The battery life on the Spectre is short enough that it's barely classified as an actual ultrabook, but with an i7 processor and 8GB of memory, this computer can run most software easily.
Many of the models we looked at feature an Intel Core i7 processor that has base speeds of 1.9GHz with Turbo Boost up to 3.0GHz. Pair this with the 8GB of memory, and you can easily run programs such Photoshop, and even mid-range video editing programs such as Sony Vegas. The system is responsive when it comes to swapping between open applications and switching between the Metro layout and the traditional Windows 7 layout.
Most models include configurable storage units that range from a 128GB SSD to a traditional 500GB SATA hard disk drive. With a solid-state drive, the system boots up in fewer than 10 seconds, which is on par with the best ultrabooks. With a moving HDD like the SATA drive, start-up time jumps up to just fewer than 30 seconds. You can opt for a 32GB secondary solid-state hard drive to house the operating system.
An Intel HD Graphics 4000 card is integrated with the CPU, so you won't be using one of these ultrathin laptops for any high-end gaming. Some 3D games work with this ultrabook, but you run the risk of overheating the unit if you play games like "Borderlands 2" or "BioShock Infinite." Even though the graphics fall short of the best ultrabooks for gaming on our lineup, the screen does not. This 15.6-inch IPS touchscreen has a resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels, and is one of the sharpest in our lineup. Movies and other media are crisp and colors are excellent, even with off-axis viewing. The drawback to the display is that it isn't as bright it could be, and the glossy finish can cause some glare in sunlight. However, the touchscreen responds perfectly to the touch and pairs well with Windows 8.
This HP ultrabook weighs fewer than five pounds, but with fewer than six hours of battery life, this is on the border of qualifying as an ultrabook. It is slim, though, at just .58 inches, so it won't take up much space at all when you take it on the road. The finish around the keyboard feels firm, as does the display housing, but the hinges feel a bit flimsy – almost breakable – although the device didn't break when we tested it.
There are three USB ports, two of which are 3.0 ports, along with a 1.3-megapixel webcam with a picture quality that looks good, even in low-light situations. There is even a Thunderbolt port. You can use the Thunderbolt port along with the HDMI port to connect several screens at once.
Should you need help with your device, you can contact customer service by phone, email and live chat. You can also visit the online FAQs section to see what others are asking and whether an answer to your question is already on the lineup.
The Spectre XT is an ultrabook with a large, top-of-the-line touchscreen display, but it takes a small hit due to performance issues. The system is great for working with low-end photo and video editing programs and even some games, but if you want something more powerful, you will have to look at our higher-ranked ultrabooks.