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HP Pavilion 15z Sleekbook
What's Hot: Slim and light for a 15" laptop (especially at this low price), very good Altec Lansing speakers.
What's Not: Shiny plastic loves fingerprints, weak battery life, mushy keyboard.
Reviewed May 16, 2013 by Lisa Gade, Editor
in Chief (twitter: @lisagade)
We often cover high end laptops and chic Ultrabooks, but today we take a look at a very budget friendly notebook in a mainstream 15.6" size: the HP Pavilion 15 Sleekbook. Specifically, this is the 15z Sleekbook with an AMD APU and an affordable price tag that starts at $479. Our test model sells for $550 and it has a 1.6GHz AMD A8-4555M with Turbo to 2.4GHz, a 1366 x 768 display, 4 gigs of RAM and a 500 gig, 5400 RPM hard drive. Since it's a Sleekbook, it's relatively slim and light at 0.83" and 4.6 pounds. The machine is available in black with a subtle visual sparkly effect, and red and blue are optional for a $25 upcharge.
The display is a decent TN panel for the price, but it's not a touch screen, which makes using the pre-loaded Windows 8 64 bit a little tedious. HP does sell a touchscreen counterpart, the Pavilion TouchSmart 15z Skeekbook (is that enough names for you?) for a bit more money. The HP has wired 10/100 Ethernet, single band WiFi 802.11n and optional Bluetooth. It has two USB 3.0 ports and one USB 2.0 port, but all are black colored, so you have to look at the symbol next to the port to tell the 3.0 from the 2.0 port. The Pavilion 15z Sleekbook has a full size HDMI port, a combo audio jack and an SD card reader. The laptop does not have an optical drive, but you can purchase an USB DVD drive separately.
This is a budget machine and you get a budget TN panel with the usual narrow viewing angles. The glossy panel was surprisingly short on contrast, which makes photos and videos look a bit washed out and text less sharp. Color saturation is average for the price class, and you’ll get 62% color gamut. The 1366 x 768 resolution is typical of 13” to 15” laptops in terms of resolution. Though resolution isn’t high, as a consolation text and icons are plenty large enough to easily see when in the desktop UI.
The 1.6GHz AMD A8 in our machine is a quad core, but it's an ultra low voltage CPU that's meant for lower end laptops and netbooks, so it's no performance demon. AMD combines their Radeon 7500G graphics in the APU (AMD's term for a combined CPU and GPU package, and it handles HD video playback very well and casual games, but it's not meant to be a gaming machine by a long shot. You can order the Pavilion 15z Sleekbook with 4, 6 or 8 gigs of DDR3 RAM and there are higher capacity hard drives available but no SSD option since this is a budget machine.
15" notebooks, unless they're super-sleek Ultrabooks, are generally upgradable. Not in this case: it takes quite a bit of disassembly including removing the main board to access internals. Order or buy the Pavilion 15z Sleekbook with the amount of RAM and hard drive space you think you’ll need, because you likely won't upgrade it yourself.