HP Pavilion TouchSmart 15 Sleekbook review
A likeable touchscreen laptop, but we've seen other budget touchscreen laptops with better battery life and performance
Review Date: 10 Aug 2013
Price when reviewed: £427
Reviewed By: Katharine Byrne
The Pavilion Touchsmart 15 Sleekbook is one of HP’s budget AMD-powered touchscreen laptops. Weighing a hefty 2.1kg and measuring 24mm thick, its glossy, black plastic chassis won’t appeal to everyone, but its smooth, rounded corners make it look much more stylish than other cheap laptops.
What really sets the Pavilion Touchsmart 15 apart from other laptops in this price range, though, is its 15.6in touchscreen. We’ve seen cheap touchscreen laptops before, such as the great value Budget Buy-winning Asus VivoBook S200, but few offer touchscreens this large with 10-point touch support for under £500. It isn’t particularly bright, but it’s very responsive and its 1,366x768 resolution is well-suited to touch controls.
We were also pleased with its overall image quality. Blacks were a little grey and whites were a little dimmer than we’d like, but its glossy finish helped bring out the vibrancy in our solid reds, greens and blues. Its contrast levels were also excellent, as we were able to see a high level of detail in the light and dark areas of all our test photos without colours looking too drained and washed out. We had to contend with a few reflections, but we could tilt the screen by a good amount and could always see the screen clearly thanks to its surprisingly wide viewing angles.
The Pavilion Touchsmart 15’s keyboard made was very comfortable. The flat Chiclet-style keys could have done with a little more travel between them, but there was still enough tactile feedback to be able to work on it for long periods of time. They’re all sensibly spaced, too, providing enough room for a full-sized number pad.
Its touchpad was a little more frustrating. It supports Windows 8 shortcuts, but it often failed to register multitouch gestures. We had particular trouble with two finger scrolling, but were a little more successful with pinch-zooming, thanks in part to the grip provided by its textured surface. However, even this was a little temperamental. We didn’t have any problem using it to navigate the desktop, though, and we could open files and folders accurately with its dedicated buttons without our cursor accidentally shooting up the screen.
Sadly, the Pavilion Touchsmart 15’s lacks a good amount of raw processing processing power. It comes with a dual-core 1.9GHz AMD A4-4335M processor and 4GB of RAM, but it only scored 14 overall in our multimedia benchmarks. This puts it nearly 15 points behind the Intel Core i3-based Asus VivoBook S200, and a score such as this puts it on a more equal footing with processors such as the Intel Celeron or Pentium. As such, it’s really only suited to basic computing tasks such as web-browsing and word processing, as it will struggle with anything more demanding such as image or video encoding.
The AMD A4-4335M has a built-in graphics processor, the Radeon HD 7400G. We’ve been impressed by the A-series’ built-in graphics processors many times before but, disappointingly, the Pavilion Touchsmart 15 failed our Dirt Showdown test. We had to set the graphics quality settings to Ultra Low and disable anti-aliasing to get anywhere near a playable frame rate at a 1,280x720 resolution, and even then we only managed 22.5fps. Needless to say, you’re better off sticking with less demanding 2D titles from the Windows Store if you want to play games on the Pavilion Touchsmart 15.
It doesn’t have the widest range of ports either, but its three USB ports (two of which are USB3), HDMI output, SD card reader and Gigabit Ethernet port should be enough for most users. There’s also a combined headphone and microphone jack, but its integrated Altec Lansing speakers were much better than typical laptop speakers. Our test tracks still sounded a little tinny at times, but we could hear a good level of bass in each track and didn’t feel the need to reach for our headphones.
Another weak point is its battery life. We only managed 4 hours and 5 minutes in our light use tests with the screen set to half brightness, which is quite poor, even for a budget laptop. We expected a longer life given how dim the screen is normally, but the battery life shouldn't be too much of a concern if you're planning on using this on the mains only.
The HP Pavilion Touchsmart 15 Sleekbook is a good budget touchscreen laptop, but it can’t match the similarly priced Dell Inspiron 15 when it comes to power. You can buy a Core i5 version of the Inspiron 15 with a touchscreen and a dedicated graphics chip for not much more than the Pavilion Touchsmart 15, making it much better value. The Pavilion Touchsmart 15 isn’t terrible, but you should stretch your budget to the Inspiron 15 if you can.
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