Customer Review

30 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If You Are In The Market For a Tablet..., October 30, 2012
This review is from: HP ENVY 13-2150nr Spectre XT 13.3" Ultrabook (Silver) (Personal Computers)
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...consider this first.

This is my first experience with an ultrabook, and many of my friends will tell you that their first experience with an ultrabook is me coming up to them and saying, "check out this amazing new ultrabook"! The HP Envy Spectre XT is an outstanding choice for your SECOND computer. It is sleek, light, easy to work with, and really fast.

As I said, this is a great choice for your second computer. If you are looking for a primary computer, this is probably not going to work for you. I hate to start describing this wonderful little PC with its drawbacks, but here are the limitations. First, there is no optical drive. No CDs, DVDs, BluRay, etc. If you want to watch the occasional movie on disk, this isn't for you. Second, the hard drive is tiny. How tiny? Well at 128 GB, it is only twice the size of the largest iPhone for storage. While most iOS apps are designed to be under 1GB in size, most PC programs aren't. The OS and pre-installed software leaves you with about 90GB of usable space. That is really small. Again, not a solution for your primary PC. Finally, the GPU is not very powerful, so while the i5 processor is very speedy, the graphics aren't sufficient for most gaming. This is why I compared this to a tablet.

If you're still reading, I'll assume you have another desktop or laptop to use for your main PC, and that you are in the market for a super portable workhorse. If that's the case, look no further!

The HP Envy Spectre XT boots up faster than any other computer I have ever used. About 10 seconds! Nevertheless, you won't be booting this up often, since as an ultrabook with Windows 8, you never have to re-boot. That means it is always ready for you. You hit the power button and it is ready to work in moments. Just like an iPad, but a second or two longer. It is able to do this because Windows 8, combined with a SSD (the "hard drive" is actually flash RAM) allows it to stay suspended using almost zero power, but still be ready to go in no time. Programs load so quickly you don't even notice them loading. I keep comparing this to iOS devices, but this really isn't like any other computer you've ever used.

Once open, you are faced with the Windows 8 Metro screen. This isn't intended to be a Windows 8 review, but some parts of Windows 8 are integral to the ultrabook. For example, the glide pad, with multi-touch, makes navigating Windows 8 so easy. Another nice aspect is that you don't really have to "close" programs like you have done with previous versions of Windows. All you do is hit the Windows key and you're back to Metro. I have had every program on this PC "running" at the same time, and there was zero lag. Apparently, Windows 8 handles app switching much like iOS does. Less for the user to think about, more just getting to work.

As for getting to work, in Windows 8 you have the "App Store," just like you do with iOS. This means that the fact that you do not have an optical drive isn't a huge deal. Many of the programs you will use, you can just download from the Windows store. Netflix, Office, Angry Birds, etc. are all available as downloads. There is a great deal of XBOX integration here too, and XBOX Glass is a cool interface. For comparison (and simply because it is one of my favorite games) I downloaded Zen Pinball FX2. I then re-purchased all the Marvel themed tables. This way, I could compare them with their counterparts on my iPhone and on the XBOX 360. The tables looked exactly like their XBOX counterparts, but this is where the GPU showed its weakness. The ball movement visibly lags here, where it is fluid on the XBOX and iPhone 4S. Nevertheless, the game is very playable and well worth the purchase. Despite the integration of the Windows 8 Store, you can sideload software, but it takes a little know-how. I am able to copy the installation files from my software to another of my PCs, then I can install the software to the ultrabook. Finally, in the case of games, many require the DVD to be inserted whenever you play. Obviously, this is impossible here, but if you can find a "NOCD" patch for you game, you will be up and running. For most people, this won't be an issue, however, because you just don't have the drive space or GPU for the typical game that would require this type of work-around.
On the topic of user interface, the HP Envy Spectre shines. The keyboard is backlit for non-optimal room lighting situations, yet it doesn't appear to hit the battery life too badly for the feature. The glidepad is as good as a glidepad gets, but they are all difficult at best. The surface of the glidepad is smooth and responsive. There aren't separate buttons for right and left click. Instead, the whole glidepad responds to touch and to press. Windows 8 uses these touches differently, so it is a required feature of the glidepad. Unfortunately, due to the nature of a touch/click glidepad, I often find my cursor jumping up or down (mostly up) a half inch when I try to click. It takes a little getting used to, but it is worth it.

Finally, the ultrabook stays cool on your lap. Gone is the exhaust fan and the feeling that your pants are going to catch fire after a half hour of working. There is no need for a lap-desk to use with this ultrabook.

Small, fast, sleek, and light (I know it lists as 3 pounds, but it feels lighter), this is just the solution for portable work. As I began, if you are thinking about a tablet, you should consider this as an alternative. You get full Windows 8, full Microsoft Office (separate purchase), full printing capabilities, full Internet Explorer (or whatever other browser you like), and a full keyboard. The battery life is extraordinary, but still not what you get from an iPad. So, if you just want to surf the web and check your email, get a Chromebook. If you want a large iPhone, get an iPad. If you want a workhorse, get the HP Envy Spectre XT. You won't regret it!
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Showing 1-7 of 7 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Feb 21, 2013 8:48:55 PM PST
Very informative really. Totally can see the impartial approach about all the up and downs of an ultra book, specifically this hp ultrabook. And for people who have problems with the touchpad , hp has a feature where you tap on the top left of the touchpad and it turns it off. it should have a small square diagram stamped right on the upper left of the trackpad.

Posted on Jul 12, 2013 3:45:24 PM PDT
Paul says:
Excellent review...One question...What's the average battery life you get out of this system? I too am getting this for a second laptop, and considering tablets. :)

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 12, 2013 3:56:13 PM PDT
John Keitz says:
Depends on what I'm doing. Web browsing, music, video, I get 4.5-5.5 hours. Watching ESPN online, I get 3.5-4 hours. Need for Speed runs for just over an hour before dying. Standby time is amazing though. It uses almost zero battery while in standby. Also, I do keep my screen pretty bright. For a laptop it's great, but my iPad lasts over twice as long doing the same things.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 12, 2013 4:08:00 PM PDT
Paul says:
So do you prefer your iPad as opposed to the ultrabook for media consumption?

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 12, 2013 4:40:12 PM PDT
John Keitz says:
Yes, if I have headphones. If not, the sound on this HP Envy blows away the sound on the iPad.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 12, 2013 4:44:00 PM PDT
Paul says:
Okay, well i'm looking for an ultraportable device which has great battery life (5+ hours), but can handle multimedia like youtube, web browsing, light gaming, etc. What would you recommend?

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 12, 2013 4:56:57 PM PDT
John Keitz says:
I definitely recommend, but the battery life is at your bare minimum requirement.
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