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back to article Review: HP Spectre XT TouchSmart

El Reg looked at HP's 13in Spectre XT Ultrabook in October last year and liked it a lot. What you're looking at here, then, is a meatier version with a bigger display, touchscreen support, more ports and the inevitable Windows 8. I like it a lot. HP Spectre XT TouchSmart 15-4000ea Ultrabook It looks absolutely nothing like an …

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Anonymous Coward

how much?!

did you say, 1200 quid?

p.s. 3 USB ports, right, how many of those USB 3.0

p.p.s. what about sd card slot?

p.p.p.s. does it come with a processor and RAM, you mention those, would you care to share the details?

p.p.p.p.s. I didn't ask about W8 v. W8 pro, but I guess I can look it up on the

p.p.p.p.p.s. presumably no wifi or 3G, let along good old LTE, cause you would have mentioned those in the review, right?

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Re: how much?!

Yes, indeedy. and only 1920 x 1080 too. Now while that is some sort of improvement on 1368x768, it's not good enough for a machine costing 1200 royal portraits. Not when the Nexus 10 tablet has 2560-by-1600 and comes in at a quarter of that price.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: how much?!

Oh FFS!

No mention of panel type either - so I suppose it's safe to presume some cheap-as-shit TN from AUO. What a magnificent investment of 1200 quideroonies. I'm a creative... wouldn't piss on it if it was on fire.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: how much?!

Since this is a review, I must have missed the bits where the reviewer carefully lists the CPU, graphics chipset, number of memory slots, and similar things, right?

...right?

Someone care to paste the offending bits at me, to prop up my clearly fading faculties?

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Facepalm

Re: how much?!

>"p.p.p.s. does it come with a processor and RAM, you mention those, would you care to share the details?"

Google is your friend. Amazing how much info you could have had with 2 mouse clicks:

Processor

Intel® Core™ i5-3317U (1.7 GHz, 3 MB L3 cache)

Processor technology

Intel® Rapid Start Technology; Intel® Smart Response Technology

Chipset

Intel HM77 Express

Special features

1 port with USB boost: charge devices while your Ultrabook is on, off, sleep or hibernating

Memory

Memory

4 GB DDR3

(1 x 4 GB)

Memory, maximum

Upgradeable to 8 GB DDR3

Memory slots

2 DIMM

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WTF?

Ethernet (not gigabit, unfortunately)

Really? What on earth were they thinking?

Leave it off for more space (not my preference, but not everyone wants an Ethernet port these days) or put in a gigabit port minimum. Especially on a 1200 machine!

That, lack of SSD and the sub par camera on a machine this expensive just seems like someone looking to make a failure!

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Re: Ethernet (not gigabit, unfortunately)

Actually, if you decide to go cheap and put in a spinning disk, then you can go cheaper again and go for plain ol' 100bT, as you won't fill it from a 5400rpm HD. They also went cheap with the webcam as well btw.

"Going cheap" is the HP fault here, and you're right to want more from £1200.

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Re: Ethernet (not gigabit, unfortunately)

According to the specs here http://h20386.www2.hp.com/UKStore/Merch/product.aspx?sel=PCNB&id=C1S38EA&opt=ABU

it has a 500GB Hard Drive AND a 32GB SSD

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Re: Ethernet (not gigabit, unfortunately)

It will definitely have some SSD as all ultrabooks have to have some. It will use Intel's caching system to move frequently accessed data onto the SSD.

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Flame

no competition breeds lukewarm products

Since many of HP's customers are locked in enterprise contracts, there is no need to make extraordinary products. They had to make a complementary product for users who would prefer something that is not a plastic brick. But still have a juicy margin.

Does HP even sell significantly to private persons? I.e. where people are willing to pay with their own "real" money. That would be interesting to know.

Same considerations for lenovo, dell, etc. If you're sure to get your customers through an enterprise contract you as a company won't care to do extraordinary things. IT department is also at fault here for not demanding more - how often do they measure not only failure rate but also productivity with a certain laptop?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: no competition breeds lukewarm products

HP have a fairly sturdy retail presence. I wouldnt say that their sales are primarily to corporates, thats more Dells thing.

I am surprised you put Lenovo in this category as well, Lenovo make some of the best quality laptops you can buy, i.e. the X1 Carbon Thinkpad.

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Headmaster

Re: no competition breeds lukewarm products

+1 for Lenovo here.

I bought a W700 with my very own beer tokens a few years ago and it's still going strong. 2 RAID0 HDDs, wacom tablet, hardware colour calibrator, anti-shock system, and plenty more besides. The only thing I didn't get was the 2nd screen.

I would struggle to find something more extraordinarily useful. I wish they hadn't stopped making them!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: no competition breeds lukewarm products

I admit, I put Lenovo half-heartedly. They make very good products, probably the most solid ones (except for the Panasonic rough laptops). Lenovo has unfortunately the blandest design, even though X1 is a step in the right direction. Don't get me wrong. In all my companies I preferred Lenovo to any other Windows-brand. Lenovo feels good, and you can't complain about the performance really.

I never visit the laptop shops (or only every couple of years), that's why I wouldn't know about HP's retail. But every couple of months my customers issue me a corporate laptop (I got HP more than once) - so that's my experience with all of them.

At the moment I would use only the Razor laptop in the Windows world. It's the only one that really innovated. But, as Apple, that's because it's being bought with "real" end-user money, not by corporate money.

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Re: no competition breeds lukewarm products

You say 'bland', I say "form follows function"

(if you're feeling arty, the designer was quoted as saying he was inspired by the Bento Box.)

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Meh

Re: no competition breeds lukewarm products

I have a nx6325 Compaq.

Seven years old, proper screen (i.e. 1400 x 1050).

Recently upgraded it to SSD (Crucial) and Windows 7. Now runs considerably faster than under Win XP.

Boots in 12 seconds. Returns from sleep in 2 seconds.

I am having a hard time finding anything that is actually better than this at a decent price.

Display is crucial, since I do so much editing work. Here, I have real problems – even 1600 x 900 is fewer pixels than I now have.

I can't remember what I paid seven years ago but I'm pretty sure it was considerably less than 1200 GBP at 2006 prices...

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Linux

Just spoke to HP about buying this without windows. It's not available with anything except W8. But they did say a Linux laptop would be announced in the next few weeks. We will wait and see....

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Re: Linux

It's already listed on their website - price to be £2995 by the look of things.

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Happy

Re: Linux

OK, you got me there!

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Linux again

OK, lads. what happened when you tried to boot Linux on it?

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Re: Linux again

I think all reviewers, not just here but magazines as well should always do this.

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Why do I feel so alienated by the PC manufacturers

There is nothing, absolutely nothing, that I can see about this machine that would encourage me to buy one to replace my current laptop. It's -

- Too expensive.

- Too big.

- Not the screen format I want.

- Has a mirror instead of a screen.

- Encourages people to touch the screen and leave greasy finger marks.

- Probably more powerful than I need.

- Comes with an OS that I neither want nor need.

The problem is that almost every company making laptops is aiming to produce the same type of machine, meaning that there is nothing made by anybody that I would consider.

Am I really that much different from mainstream users now?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Why do I feel so alienated by the PC manufacturers

Try looking at a Thinkpad, some models can be ordered with Win 7 if you have the 8 allergy. Matte displays are the norm on most models

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Re: Why do I feel so alienated by the PC manufacturers

So this particular laptop doesn't fit your usage. This is a laptop for the bosses who want to show their shiny laptops to other people

I recommend selecting a cheaper and less powerful, smaller laptop with proper aspect ratio/resolution on the matte non-touch display with an OS that is not Windows 8. Not that big of a deal.

HP et al. have a plethora of laptops catering to many tastes. Perhaps your requirements aren't mainstream.

BTW, HP's website lists Gigabit ethernet and mSSD Cache on the spec sheet.

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Re: Why do I feel so alienated by the PC manufacturers @AC 10:30.

If you look at my other posts, I've been a Thinkpad user for over 10 years.

What I would like would be something with the form factor of a T23, the 4x3, 1440x900 resolution of some of the T43 and T60 models, but a better processor than either of those.

I'll probably have to look for a second-hand T60 at some point, and see how long that will last me.

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Unhappy

@Sandtitz

..... only there aren't any. List me a current laptop that has a 4x3 screen that fills the entire lid of the the laptop. I've tried to find one, and I can't.

It's funny that 7 years ago, my needs were quite mainstream. My requirements have evolved (faster processor, more memory, bigger disk, better graphics adapter), but the manufacturers have moved in a completely different direction (shiny, wide-screen aspect ratio, no optical media, bigger or smaller form-factor).

So in order to remain mainstream, I have to change, right?

I'll go back to my cave now, as it seems like I belong with the Dinosaurs.

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Linux

Re: Why do I feel so alienated by the PC manufacturers

Oh, maybe HP wasn't thinking of you specifically when they botched this together in the shed?

You know, you might find it easier to comment on a laptop that is the right size, budget, screen format, screen material, power & OS rather than bothering to comment on laptops that don't suit your needs in any way shape or form.

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@Peter G.

There are no new 4:3 laptops AFAIK.

But the rest you can have easily. There are plenty of laptops that take 32GB's, up to 3 HDD's, heavy duty CAD graphics and so forth.

This Spectre laptop isn't mainstream even in business world, HP's most mainstream line is sold in supermarkets and those laptops are called Pavilions.

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Numerical keypad

I suppose it depends on how you type, but I dislike having numerical keypads on laptops. Not because I don't like numerical keypads, but because when the manufacturers fit them they offset the rest of the keyboard, such that the centre of the normal typing area does not line up with the centre of the screen. So I find either my head or spine twisted in a way that all the OH&S stuff says is bad, and which is actually uncomfortable after a long time too.

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Re: Numerical keypad

I wonder- has any laptop ever tried placed the numeric below the alpha keys and to to the right of the touchpad? With the exception of some Lenovo laptops that put a Wacom digitiser there, that space is not usually used.

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PM.

Re: Numerical keypad

This keyboard layout is ideal ( at least for me) , Home, PgUp,PgDn,End - to the right - and no numeric block.

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Re: Numerical keypad

>I wonder- has any laptop ever tried placed the numeric below the alpha keys and to to the right of the touchpad?

Someone downvoted a question... okaay. I did make a grammatical mistake, but a comment along the lines of "That's a stupid idea because: ..." would be more useful than a downvote.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Numerical keypad

Are you really that pathetic to even care?

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re. Gloss screen

Sighs. I suppose you could stick a matte screen protector on it, as I do with my phones. Apart from the 'speckle' finish on bright areas they work well and you get used to the 'speckle'. (For a 15" screen, putting it on without getting several particles of dust under it would be an exercise in hope and swearing.)

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Anonymous Coward

> Otherwise, the 13in and 15.6in models are fitted with the same processor and RAM.

£1,200 for an i5 with 4gb ram, integrated GFX and no SSD? That dog won't hunt, monsignor....

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Did you really just say

Ethernet (sadly not gigabit).

Reaaaallly?

See, this is the entire problem. These Ultrabooks repeatedly are not ultra. They tend to just be thin, compromised, horrible systems. I bet for £1200 you get... intergrated graphics.

So what you are offering me is a thin version of a business notebook from 7 years ago, with some decent proc and ram and mediocre HD space. Thanks. Oh, and its £1200 notes.

Intel and whoever at intel made these 'Ultra' bullcrap models and ideas need a serious kicking. Its little wonder that people are observing that instead of this they will buy a tablet for down to a tenth of the price.

Shipping any pc in 2013 that does not have decent GPU and other kit is unforgivable. And its serious time that this got drilled into the industry, reviewers, and the rest. Its pretty dire at the low end, but at the £1200 price mark its a complete joke.

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Re: Did you really just say

>Shipping any pc in 2013 that does not have decent GPU is unforgivable.

It is decent enough for most users- check the reviews and benchmarks. It isn't top-notch, but it is decent enough for most games at medium settings, very good at media transcoding, and will happily output 1080 video across a couple of monitors, so really it is only the serious gamers, CAD and CUDA users who will want more. Generally speaking, they are aware of what their needs are and will buy accordingly.

This isn't a machine I would buy, but don't judge it for not being a gaming laptop or mobile workstation. Peoples usage varies.

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Unhappy

No nVidea == no use to me

Me is CUDA user.

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I know you work with daftly high res images, so I'd assumed you'd want a higher res screen than this offers.

Down the line we can look forward to more things like this, for when you return to the desk: http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/pci-express-graphics-thunderbolt,3263-8.html

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Anonymous Coward

Unfortunately it's made by HP...

And I don't trust them any more.

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HP website claims it has gigabit ethernet....

http://www.shopping.hp.com/en_US/home-office/-/products/Laptops/HP-Spectre/A9G16AV?HP-Spectre-XT-TouchSmart-Ultrabook-15t-4000

Also according to that, 2 USB ports are USB 3.0, audio is a mic/headphone combo jack, which means you need a stupid adapter if you want to use a normal microphone with it, and it DOES have a digital media card slot - looks like an SD card slot, though curiously the specs neglect to mention it.

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Re: HP website claims it has gigabit ethernet....

UK spec does mention the SD Card

http://h20386.www2.hp.com/UKStore/Merch/product.aspx?sel=PCNB&id=C1S38EA&opt=ABU

Although that then doesn't mention Gigabit (which the chipset supports). How HP can't get a full spec list together for all their sites is beyond me

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Re: HP website claims it has gigabit ethernet....

Its not a good idea (and is unnecessary) for all of your USB ports to be USB 3.0 - it can cause you headaches if you want to install a different OS. Can't speak for Linux, but Win 7 doesn't like it. The installer will run from a USB 3.0-connected DVD drive, but once it wants to copy across files it starts asking for a driver disk.

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Stop

Screen res

I'd like to find a small/light notebook with a decent screen res for less than £600. 1366x768 is everywhere and it sucks. I had an Asus Z71VP beast 8 years ago with 1680x1050 resolution.

Surely a manufacturer somewhere can stick a screen with a similar resolution, i5 processor and 4GB of memory into some sort of ultrabook battery life/size/weight bracket. And sell it for £500-600.

I am the only person looking for an average/budget laptop spec but a higher-res screen?

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Re: Screen res

this one is x1080, but as someone said up there^ 1080 is not enough when we have tablets at far better resolutions. And x1080 is a kick in the nuts at 1200 quid.

Yes, for the last few years we have been treated like mugs by the makers who have been using cheap TV screens in expensive computers. Expensive for someone, anywa. I've not bought one.

I'm very tempted by some of the chrombook/nexus hardware, and am thinking of putting Linux on them if that works.

Meanwhile how about an Android dongler for yer tv? I discovered this morning that by using a FWSE for "hdmi android adaptor tv" there are dozens of 60 or 70 quid things out there that will turn yer TV into a giant tablet-like thingy, needing only a wireless mouse.

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Re: Screen res

>1080 is not enough when we have tablets at far better resolutions.

It would be nice to be able to use these high-res tablets as dumb monitors.

>Meanwhile how about an Android dongler for yer tv?

A mate got one the other day, sits inline the HDMI cable, haven't had in-depth feedback, but he seems happy enough with it. However, a £25 gadget will give 1080 media playback. If you need to browse the web in your living room, then maybe a tablet or second-hand Thinkpad are better options for your £75, so your OH can continue watching the TV.

Generally speaking, set-top boxes can do Youtube, Netflicks and iPlayer, and Android devices with HDMI-out and a Flash capable browser can do the more <cough> esoteric streaming sites.

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Re: Screen res

>>1080 is not enough when we have tablets at far better resolutions.

>It would be nice to be able to use these high-res tablets as dumb monitors.

Indeed. Perhaps one day someone might even find a way to hollow out the crud from the lids of these ûber-expensive "ultrabooks" and install a nice panel from a tablety device.

>I'm very tempted by some of the chrombook/nexus hardware, and am thinking of putting Linux on them if that works.

Likewise. I understand it does: http://www.phoronix.com/scan.php?page=article&item=samsung_chrome_a15&num=1 and the couple of hardware hiccups (touchpad?) have been resolved with recent kernel patches from the chocolate factory.

Might be worth waiting a little bit longer though... http://www.theregister.co.uk/2013/02/11/chromebook_pixel_could_be_real/

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Re: The marketers released pictures without shots of the OS

And if someone uses the machine to watch movies, they really don't give a flying fornication about what OS it uses- though reliable Flash hardware acceleration and clients for popular movie streaming services might help.`

Stop abusing the Boffin icon, Eadon - you've not convinced anybody you're qualified to use it.

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"HP is not copying Apple and the look-and-feel of the Spectre XT TouchSmart is nothing like that of a MacBook Pro."

LOL.

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And dolphins 'copied' sharks? Mimicry isn't the mechanism.

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