The idea of a touchscreen shoehorned into a traditional laptop form factor still seems a bit strange, but like it or not, they're coming. And as such, HP's Spectre XT Touchsmart is a pretty good way of doing it if it has to be done. Instead of using some cheap display panel, the company opted for a 15.6-inch bonded IPS panel, ensuring a screen that's as responsive as it is vibrant.
As for the rest of the laptop, the company offers the latest Ivy Bridge Core i5 and Core i7 chipsets, up to eight gigabytes of RAM and the choice between a 500 gigabyte HDD (with a 32 gig flash cache), or a 256 gigabyte SSD. And along with the usual array of USB 3.0, HDMI and gigabit ethernet, the Spectre XT Touchsmart has Thunderbolt. A first for HP and a rarity among PCs.
As for the build, it's plenty slim at 17.9 millimetes and fairly light at 4.77 pounds. The aluminum body is pretty solid, but the only gripe is with the trackpad, which is raised up from the surface and has a sharp, uncomfortable edge. Trying to pull off a side swipe gesture using the trackpad in Windows 8 kinda sucks. But otherwise, the laptop looks like it could be a decent entry from HP.
The company also announced a cheaper touched enabled laptop—the Envy Touchsmart Ultrabook 4. It has a 14-inch, touch-friendly LCD, 8 hours of battery life, and the option of an Intel Core i3, i5 or i7 chipset with up to 8 gigs of RAM and the same storage options as the Spectre XT Touchsmart. Release date isn't final yet, but the price will likely fall somewhere in the $800-$900 range.
The Spectre XT Touchsmart will be available in December starting at $1400. [HP]