Windows 8 is scarcely two months away, and brings with it an entirely new approach to navigating around our PCs. But we aren't all going to run out and buy tablets; the Spectre XT TouchSmart offers another approach, taking familiar hardware — in this case, the premium Spectre XT — and adding a multitouch display. Our first impressions of the 13.3-inch Spectre XT were pleasant, and the TouchSmart variant retains the comfortable keyboard, while adding an accurate glass trackpad that handles Windows 8's multitouch gestures amicably. The new model also sports a 15.6-inch projective capacitive touchscreen — hence the TouchSmart moniker. A multi-touch IPS display is a boon for Windows 8, and gestures worked rather smoothly during our time tapping at the screen. The edge-to-edge glass is also an attractive touch, though fingerprints remain a concern. Viewing angles were fairly generous, and while we did notice some problems with reflections when standing off to the side, the screen held up rather well in spite of the venue's aggressive fluorescent lighting.
The Spectre XT's attractive aluminum body makes a return, though touch-support and the larger screen adds a bit of girth. The XT TouchSmart is .7-inches thick (17.9mm) and weighs 4.7 pounds — a few millimeters thicker, and just shy of two pounds heavier than the Spectre XT. The XT Touchsmart also adds a Thunderbolt port (HP's first laptop to include one) and includes USB 3.0 sockets and a full-sized HDMI port. The PC will be powered by Intel Ivy Bridge processors, and pairs traditional hard drives with mSATA SSDs. Also bundled in to the deal are Adobe Photoshop Elements and Adobe Premiere Elements, which could be an appreciable value add for the budding auteur. The Envy Spectre XT TouchSmart will start shipping in December, and will start at $1,399.
HP has also announced the Envy TouchSmart Ultrabook 4, though there are decidedly fewer details. There's no price or release date, but we do know that it weighs 4.7 pounds, and is .9-inches (23mm) thick. It will also offer an optional AMD graphics card, though there's no word on what model.