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January 16th 2014 5:46 am

How would you change HP's Envy Spectre XT?

We've always prided ourselves on having a crack team of laptop reviewers, who run the rule over almost every mobile computer available. One that earned a measure of praise was HP's Envy Spectre XT, which addressed plenty of our complaints that we'd lodged against the original Envy 14 Spectre. The only things that remained stuck in our collective craw were the unimpressive battery life and poor audio, but otherwise it received a clean bill of health from us. But now that you've had some time to spend with this hardware, you can share with us what it's been like to live with it on a daily basis.

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5 replies

Agree, battery life is not spectacular. Other than that, being able to upgrade the memory would have been nice, having it soldered on was a mistake in my opinion.
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Screen to be 1600x900 instead of 1366x768, or better yet 1080p but at least 1600x900.

I'm not sure how they can increase battery life without changing everything else. Other than that it's pretty good. USB3 check. SSD check. Windows7 Check! Backlit keyboard (now we're talkin!) check!
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IPS screen. Non IPS screens are awful, should be phased out from the market. No wonder PC market slumped.

And put full size arrow keys instead of the kiddie ones. Can't even type right in those weird arrows.
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My Spectre XT has been my daily driver for about 16 months now. I really couldn't be happier with it. It originally came with Win 7, and I gave around $700 for it. It's the i3 version.

This thing is so thin and light that it gets lost my my computer backpack.

I'm retired now, so I seldom need to use it all day long. I generally plug it in at night, and run it until it needs charging. I don't remember the last time I needed to top it off during the day. The battery is starting to show it's age, and does not last as long as it did when new. A new battery will be on the shopping list later this year. Changing the battery does not look like a big deal according to the service manual.

I would have liked a high-res IPS screen, but there's nothing I can't do with the current panel. The sound is just OK, but if I'm listening to something important I generally grab headphones.

The fan can get noisy if it needs to wind up to high speed, but that doesn't happen very much for me. If you are doing lots of CPU intensive tasks it might become an issue.

I upgraded to Windows 8.1, and am still learning to deal with it. It is fast and reliable. The touch panel enables some of Windows' touch features. The keyboard layout is different enough from standard to require some concentration.

My biggest gripe: the non-standard power connector. The metal coaxial plug is standard, but it is recessed deeply into the chassis, and requires a long, thin plastic body to make contact. I ended up buying a second power adapter from HP, cutting off the connector, and splicing the connector onto my automobile adapter.

All in all, I'm very happy with my Spectre XT.
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Screen resolution is a bit on the downside (I switched from a full HD laptop) but the portability is fantastic.

My previous laptop had a 1hr battery life so the 4hr I get from this is fine but I can see why it bothers people.

My biggest problem with this laptop so far is the quality control. Maybe they were rushing it off the production line (I got it a few weeks upon release) and the laptop consistently overheated and would crash frequently (while doing mediocre tasks such as youtubing) but once I got my laptop back to be serviced, it worked just fine.

Another problem is the screen assembly/housing which I find as a slightly stupid design. The hinge the connects the keyboard to the screen is attached to the black plastic bit which is glued to the metal laptop cover which means that after a while, the force that you apply to open the laptop cover will pull the screen assembly apart. Nothing a bit of super-glue can't fix but at first it was a very sscary sight and not something I'd expect seeing from such a premium device.

But otherwise I am completely satisfied. I can do the odd gaming on it, photo/video editing works completely fine even when I connect the laptop to a full HD monitor/screen, the cooling-fans create relatively low noise and the device itself is a thing of beauty.
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