The HP Pavilion Sleekbook 15z-b000 is designed to provide Ultrabook sleekness without the sticker shock. This $474 notebook ($554 MSRP) has an AMD quad-core processor, compact keyboard like the Lenovo G Series G550M Keyboard , 4GB of RAM and an AMD GPU, giving you everything you need for surfing the Web, watching video and keeping up with Facebook and Twitter. Should bargain hunters put this system on their short list, or step up to a bona fide Ultrabook?
Measuring a svelte 15.9 x 10.2 x 0.83 inches and weighing 4.6 pounds, the 15z is slim and light for a notebook in this price range. The ASUS S56CA ( Asus Keyboard Cover ) is thinner but heavier, and the Acer Aspire V5-571-6869( Acer Keyboard Cover ) is thicker and heavier.
The 15z's chassis is made entirely of plastic, but doesn't look cheap. The glossy, sparkling black finish gives the notebook a look reminiscent of a granite countertop. The keyboard deck and palm rest also sport the granite look. The Sleekbook 15z is also available in ruby red and winter white for those looking for a splash of color.
A large, raised rectangular panel sits in the middle of the of the lid, creating a slight plateau. The raised panel accentuates the lid's gentle slopes and rounded corners. The trademark HP logo rests in the bottom left corner of the panel.
The sides are lined in a thin, glossy black plastic strip that extends to the rear of the deck, creating a graceful upward slope along the rear of the deck. A black speaker grille runs nearly the entire length of the deck, with a dark gray power button embedded on the left.
The 15z's 15.6-inch, 1366 x 768 display delivers vibrant color and sharp text, but isn't very bright. The screen registered 142 lux on our light meter. That fails to meet the mainstream 228 lux average, but is slightly brighter than the Aspire V5's 139 lux display. The S56CA's display outshone both notebooks -- but not by much -- with its 159 lux screen.
We could see the individual hairs on the best in show affenpinscher in an article on the Westminster Kennel Club dog show. Watching the 1080p "Iron Man 3" trailer, we saw the intricate scratches on Iron Man's armor as well as the frosted tips in Tony Stark's hair. However, the display's dimness affected color throughout the trailer, making the red and gold suit look dingy, while normally blue skies appeared washed out.
Viewing angles were nice and wide and could comfortably fit three people.
The large Altec Lansing speaker on the Sleekbook 15z filled our test room with loud audio when playing The Lumineers' "Ho Hey." Despite some harshness at max volume, overall the sound is fairly good for the price. Users can toggle between Music, Movies and Voice settings in the Dolby Advanced Audio v2 control panel and many other compatible parts .
The 15z has a fairly large, island-style keyboard complete with a full number pad like the Lenovo G Series G550M Keyboard . The flat, black keys are generously spaced, and they provide a nice bounce, but we found them somewhat stiff. We also could have used a larger space bar. However, that didn't stop us from notching 53 wpm with a 0-percent error rate on the Ten Thumbs Typing test. That's close to our usual 55 wpm/1 percent error rate.
The 3.8 x 2.8-inch Synaptics touchpad consists of a number of small, raised dots, and the resulting textured surface felt good on our fingers. Navigating documents and websites was fairly smooth. Multi-touch gestures such as two-finger scroll and rotate, and three-finger flick and press were responsive and fluid.
We had a tougher time executing the one-finger gestures for Windows 8, such as the Charms Menu and the Recent Apps bar. Sometimes they worked fine, and other times we had to repeatedly perform the gestures to register a response.
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