One thing we're seeing more and more of is Windows 8 touch-screen laptops that manage to hit very reasonable prices. Joining the crowd is HP's new Pavilion TouchSmart Sleekbook, a 15.6-inch almost-ultrabook that starts at $649.
Before the new Windows 8 era, where touch screens quickly became standard equipment for many laptops, having a touch screen was an expensive option found on only a handful of specialty systems. Even the very first Windows 8 laptops we managed to get our hands on were all in the $1,000-plus category.
The holiday 2012 season brought touch to midprice systems, such as the Acer Aspire V5 and M5, which cost under $600. For just a little more, the Pavilion TouchSmart Sleekbook looks like a solid entry point for mainstream consumers, who may still prefer a desk-friendly 15-inch display to all the 11-inch and 13-inch ultrabooks out there right now.
HP's Sleekbook line is a proprietary name (and frankly, a rather silly one) for slim, lightweight laptops that for whatever reason, don't meet Intel's official specs for its ultrabook designation -- most often because of a platter HDD or an AMD CPU. Compared with under-$1,000 laptops from just a couple of years ago, what HP has been able to make available in the $600-$900 category as Pavilion and Envy Sleekbooks has been pretty impressive.
The designs, including this one, are still on the plastic side, compared with the all-metal designs you'll find for more money, but there's enough crossover from HP's higher-end Envy products to make this look like a laptop that costs more than $650.
That default configuration includes and AMD A6-4455M processor, 6GB of RAM, and a 750GB HDD. The only disappointing spec is the 1,366x768-pixel screen resolution, which feels dated for a 15-inch laptop.
The HP Pavilion Touchsmart Sleekbook will be available from February 3. Available starting January 13 will be a non-touch-screen version, called the HP Pavilion Sleekbook, from $479.