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HP Pavilion Touchsmart Sleekbook joins the low-cost touch-screen crowd

One of HP's only CES 2013 laptops is a mainstream touch-screen laptop that should help budget shoppers get the most out of Windows 8.

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Dan Ackerman
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Dan Ackerman Editorial Director / Computers and Gaming

Dan Ackerman leads CNET's coverage of computers and gaming hardware. A New York native and former radio DJ, he's also a regular TV talking head and the author of "The Tetris Effect" (Hachette/PublicAffairs), a non-fiction gaming and business history book that has earned rave reviews from the New York Times, Fortune, LA Review of Books, and many other publications. "Upends the standard Silicon Valley, Steve Jobs/Mark Zuckerberg technology-creation myth... the story shines." -- The New York Times

2 min read

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.

Dan Ackerman/CNET

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.

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