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 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.
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. The HP has wired 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.
Despite the ULV CPU with low end graphics, the machine only lasted us 3.5 hours on a charge, largely due to the relatively small 2550 mAh, 4 cell battery (which is removable). Audio is better than average for a machine in this price range, and the Altec Lansing speakers put out load, clear audio.
Here's our HP Pavilion 15z Sleekbook video review. Our full written review will follow.