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HP Spectre XT TouchSmart is a sweet-looking, underpowered laptop in an Ultrabook’s clothing

Sarah Jacobsson Purewal | April 8, 2013
The brushed-aluminum look screams Ultrabook, and the bigger display is a nice bonus. But the weight, performance, and battery life make it better suited for living-room laptop duty.

General prettiness aside, this Spectre has some problems that I just cant overlook in an Ultrabook.

First of all, its got terrible battery life. In our lab tests, we managed to eke out two hours and 52 minutes worth of battery on HPs recommended settings. To put this into perspective, most of the Ultrabooks Ive seen get around five (or more) hours, while most of the desktop replacements Ive seen get around two and half hours.

Its not particularly fast, either. While the Spectre does perform fairly well for its class (it scored 61 out of 100 on WorldBench 8), its nowhere near desktop-replacement status.

The other real issue I noticed with the Spectre was its audio playback. HP has been working with Beats Audio for some time now to boost the quality of its laptop speakers. For the most part, this partnership has been yielding excellent results. Sound from the Spectres native speakers is tinny and grinding, however, with no bass to speak of. Its actually kind of painful to listen to, and theres clearly no Beats Audio enhancement at work. The Beats Audio is thereyoull hear it when you plug headphones into the laptop. But really, dont even think about playing audio over the laptops native speakers.

A not-quite-Ultrabook

HP is clearly marketing the HP Spectre XT TouchSmart to the Ultrabook-cool crowd, but it doesnt quite fit. It looks great when its sitting here on my deskhooked up to external speakers and a power blockbut its hardly something Id want to tote around with me on a regular basis. And it would definitely need to have better battery life, speaker quality, and weight before it could really be called an Ultrabook.


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