HP's ENVY Spectre XT: The Ultrabook to beat this year

Shanghai, China — It's tough being an Ultrabook right now. You're either a MacBook Air clone or a confused laptop masquerading as a new breed of mobile notebook. In a sea of wedge-shaped Ultrabooks, the HP Sceptre XT feels like the first one that really stands on its own without coming off as a copycat laptop.

In a perfect world, HP's $1400 14-inch ENVY Spectre Ultrabook would have crushed the MacBook Air, but alas, it didn't.

The ENVY Sceptre XT is a little closer to duking it out with the MacBook Air. It's thinner, lighter, faster and most importantly — cheaper. HP will sell the 13.3-inch (1366x768 resolution), 3.07 pound, 17.8mm thick Spectre XT for $1,000.

Put up against Apple's $1,000 MacBook Air, Spectre XT users get a larger display (13.3-inch vs. 11.6-inch), minimum 128GB of SSD vs. the Air's 64GB SSD, Beats audio with quad-speakers, a Gigagbit ethernet port, WiDi (Wireless Display), HDMI port, twin USB ports, SD card slot, full-sized chiclet keyboard, 4GB of RAM, an Intel Ivy Bridge processor and eight hours of battery life.

That's a lot of Ultrabook computing for such a thin and light computer.

From our brief hands-on, we can confirm that the more wedge-shaped profile of the Spectre XT is a huge improvement over the original Spectre. The keyboard is very spacious and the speakers are almost too loud for its own good. HP's finally improved the erratic glass trackpad bringing it up to responsive levels usually reserved for the MacBook Air and Pro notebook computers and the viewing angles on the display are just fantastic.

We can't make any decisions on the actual battery life of the Spectre XT, but we think HP has a real winner in its hands. You'll definitely want to touch this one before you pull the trigger on it.

Interested shoppers: the Spectre XT comes out on June 8.

All photos taken by Raymond Wong for DVICE. Posted on location at the Shanghai New International Expo Centre in China.

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