Customer Review

67 of 70 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Nice Ultrabook for the Traveler or Student, October 22, 2012
This review is from: HP ENVY 13-2150nr Spectre XT 13.3" Ultrabook (Silver) (Personal Computers)
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This is my first experience with Ultrabooks. Up to this point I have worked with laptops that are designed to be desktop replacement systems or family entertainment systems, so the journey into the land of Ultrabooks is a new one for me. So far, I have mixed feelings about this system, mostly due to HP's recovery media creation tool, but my overall impression is a good one so far.

In terms of size, this is a very thin and dainty notebook computer, roughly the size of a fat magazine. This gives it a very small footprint and it is relatively lightweight, making it good for stuffing in a briefcase or carry-on bag (though there are better cases for this kind of thing). I set it up on the kitchen table and as soon as my wife saw it she exclaimed "It's so cute!" Indeed, it's an attractive machine.

One of the things that caught my attention when reading the specifications on this machine is that there was no mention at all of a DVD drive. The packing materials even state "no optical drive". Sure enough, there is none so loading up software will require a USB DVD drive or a properly loaded thumb drive. This is not a huge deal but it is something that must be kept in mind - not everyone will appreciate having to get an additional drive just to load up software. I am not sure if HP offers a DVD R/W drive as an accessory kit.

There are exactly two USB ports on this notebook - one USB 2.0 port and one USB 3.0 port. For the traveler working on a plane or a student taking notes in a class, this does not matter. However, when working at a desk and getting synchronized with the office computer having only two USB ports may be problematic. This can be overcome by using a hub, but again this requires extra hardware. It all depends on the usage - two ports may be plenty. In my case and for my purposes, two is usually sufficient.

There is also an HDMI port, an Ethernet jack and an audio output jack. As is typical with most laptops, this one has an SD card reader. What this notebook does not have, though, is a VGA or DVI output. This is not necessarily a problem as this is a notebook made for someone on the go, but it does mean that connecting to a projector requires using another method.
This notebook is Bluetooth capable. This is a good thing for a lot of people. For me, though, it is less important as I have no Bluetooth accessories. I do appreciate the availability though so that I can connect accessories to it in the future.

Screen type is important to many people - glossy, matte, anti-glare... This particular system has a very bright and clear glossy screen which is fine for me but may disagree with others who dislike the reflections that occur and the glare from lights. Keep this in mind.

Pleasantly, there is not a huge amount of "bloatware" on this system. Looking through the list of installed software, HP has not overly cluttered the drive with extra stuff that you won't need (though there is some stuff that I know I will never, ever use). MS Office is preloaded as is Norton Internet Security - these are simple to uninstall if there is no need for them. That said, HP and Symantec have arranged a two-year license on Norton Internet Security which is outstanding for a new system right out of the box - every system I have seen up to this point came with only 60-90 days of updates for the bundled internet security suite.

My first order of business when I brought the system up was to launch the recovery media creation tool. I plugged in my DVD drive, kicked off the process, and burned 9 DVDs on the way to making a set of 5 recovery DVDs. The process errored out repeatedly, complaining of errors though the DVD media I have has been reliable. I am not sure if there is a weakness in the creation tool, the DVD drive or the platters, but the process took a lot longer than it should have taken. Regardless, there is something else about the process that is even more troublesome - HP allows you to make ONE and only one copy of the recovery media. If one of the five DVDs goes bad, then it's all over. This is specific to HP - Sony and Asus both allow you to make multiple copies, and my other HP laptop enforced the same limit of one copy.

I dug into the performance measurement tool and the system reports a Windows Experience number of 5.6, driven by the graphics chipset (and it was the desktop graphics, not the gaming graphics, that was low). The highest number was actually the SS hard drive at 8.1, even outscoring the CPU and memory! This is a snappy little system and while it's not built for heavy gaming it has enough horsepower to handle many games.

Relating to performance - because of the solid-state drive, power-on to operational time is less than 10 seconds. I absolutely love how fast this machine boots up!

I am no fan of touchpads and to be honest I find the touchpad on this notebook worse than average. It is raised which makes it too easy to inadvertently tap it while typing, and because of the way it is raised it's too easy to get stuff in the crevices around it.

As far as traveling with this notebook, it should be said that there are smaller, more portable machines out there. This one has a 13.3" screen but I have seen much smaller systems. Then again, these smaller systems usually have less power and are less capable. It comes down to whether you prefer more compactness at the expense of power or more power at the expense of compactness.

This system comes preloaded with Windows 8. In a nutshell I find it to resemble a cross between Windows 7 and MS Zune. I am not going to go into a full review of Windows 8 but I will very briefly summarize - though it's best suited for tablets, it actually works nicely on this notebook and though there is a learning curve it's not bad.

Finally, I should mention the speaker system. My very first HP laptop came with Altec Lansing speakers built in to the unit. This system comes with Beats audio, and I have found them to be roughly equivalent. Sound quality is very good, especially coming from such a small machine.

HP has put together a very nice system in this Ultrabook. It is small, fast and powerful. I do not like the way it builds recovery media (and restricts you to a single copy), and I am a little bit concerned by not having more than 2 USB ports, but when considering that this machine is built for the traveler or student, this is a very nice system that's worth a look.
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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Feb 13, 2013 1:07:09 AM PST
Please what can you say about the battery life of this PC?

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 13, 2013 7:53:06 PM PST
Good question. The battery seems to be good for about 4 hours, if you're doing things like surfing the web, editing documents and that sort of thing. Do something graphic- or math-intensive and the run time drops quite a bit.
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