HP's touch Sleekbook cheaper alternative to ultrabooks

Starting at $699, HP says its first touchscreen Sleekbook laptop with AMD chips is "most affordable"

Hewlett-Packard has priced its new Pavilion Touchsmart Sleekbook laptop at $699, claiming it's the most affordable device in its category.

HP Pavilion Touchsmart Sleekbook laptop
HP's Pavilion TouchSmart Sleekbook starts at $699

The laptop has a 15.6-inch touchscreen, and uses Advanced Micro Devices' latest processors code-named Trinity, said Kevin Wentzel, technical marketing manager at HP.

The laptop includes an AMD A8 processor, 6GB of RAM and a 750GB hard drive. The Sleekbook is about the same size and weight as thin-and-light ultrabooks, which have Intel Core processors and are on average more expensive. Benchmarks have shown those Intel chips are somewhat faster than AMD's Trinity chips on CPU performance, but lagging in graphics performance.

"We provide our Sleekbooks as an alternative to consumers. Some consumers simply don't want the performance or some features available on ultrabooks and aren't willing to pay the price," Wentzel said.

The entry price for 15.6-inch touch ultrabooks dipped to roughly $750 late last year. But most touch-based ultrabooks are still above $800, and in some cases above $1,000, with HP's Spectre XT Touchsmart Ultrabook 15 priced at $1,399.

The Touchsmart Sleekbook has the same chassis as ultrabooks, but the difference is in the internal components. Using AMD chips gives designers the flexibility to leave out features considered standard in ultrabooks as per Intel's design rules. But as a result, buyers opting for AMD-based Sleekbooks will miss some features available on ultrabooks.

For example, ultrabooks boot up faster with solid-state drive cache on motherboards, and such features can be excluded in AMD-based touch Sleekbook, Wentzel said. SSD cache has to be included in ultrabooks, but the flexibility to skip that in the Sleekbook provides helps reduce component cost and price the laptop lower.

The touchscreen displays images at a 1366-by-768 pixel resolution. The laptop's touchpad recognizes gestures to navigate Windows 8.

The new Sleekbook joins a line of laptops with AMD and Intel chips introduced last year. HP also announced a non-touch Pavilion Sleekbook starting at $499 with a 15.6-inch, an AMD A6 CPU, 4GB of RAM and 500GB of hard-drive storage.

The price difference between touch laptops with non-touch laptops is about $200 or more depending on configuration, Wentzel said.

Agam Shah covers PCs, tablets, servers, chips and semiconductors for IDG News Service. Follow Agam on Twitter at @agamsh. Agam's e-mail address is agam_shah@idg.com

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