Meet HP’s MacBook Air fighter, the Envy Spectre XT

HP Envy Spectre XT

While Asus, Acer, and a slew over other competitors were rolling out MacBook Air lookalikes under the Ultrabook moniker back in the fall, HP put its first foot into the arena with the Folio 13 – a more business-centric take on the Ultrabook concept. We liked it then and we like it now, but the lack of a flagship consumer Ultrabook under HP’s banner was a notable omission. It should come as little surprise, then, that the company’s latest armada of notebooks puts forth a contender with the Envy Spectre XT.

Gone are the gleaming, glittering (and potentially fragile) glass features that defined the original Spectre announced at CES 2012. The 13.3-inch Envy Spectre XT adopts brushed aluminum and a forward-slanting stance that will feel familiar to anyone acquainted with the MacBook Air – or the slew of aforementioned imitators, for that matter. (Not that HP embraces that comparison. According to design guru Stacy Wolff, the beefed-up rear is more a necessity of hardware design than a stylistic choice, and silver is… well, silver. Apple “doesn’t own it.”)

HP Spectre XT

Like every new HP Ultrabook unveiled in Shanghai on Wednesday, the Envy Spectre XT has a large multitouch trackpad that stands above the surrounding decklid, though this model doesn’t have the distinctive ridged surface of the standard Envy Ultrabooks. As expected, the whole package feels tight and well put together, though we could do without the black plastic screen bezel – an area bound to receive plenty of handling. The whole package measures 14.5 mm thick and weighs 3.07 pounds.

HP Envy Spectre XT viewed from the side

Inside, the Spectre XT will boast the usual slate of Core Series processors and a 128GB SSD – nothing to gawk at here. Seemingly aware of the Spectre XT’s overwhelming sameness, HP has veered off course and slid in a few accoutrements to set it apart, including Beats Audio via quad speakers, dedicated Envy concierge service for technical support, and two years of free Norton antivirus (we’re still not sure if this is a gift or a curse). Perhaps of more interest to media gurus, it will also come preinstalled with free full versions of Adobe Photoshop Elements 10 and Premiere Elements 10.

HP Envy Spectre side viewWhile the 13.3-inch Spectre XT is far from a revolutionary Ultrabook – the original Spectre was really more of a departure – it does give HP a foothold in a size and price segment that it will need to have a well-rounded portfolio of Ultrabooks – a vanilla to join its existing mint and chocolate flavors. The HP Envy Spectre XT will go on sale June 8 starting at $999.