HP Pavilion TouchSmart 15 review

HP Pavilion TouchSmart 15 review

The Pavilion laptops have traditionally been HP's affordable ‘everyday computing' range. But the new HP Pavilion TouchSmart 15 shows signs of starting to move upmarket a bit. Here's our full HP Pavilion TouchSmart 15 review.

Last year's model is still on sale for around £475 with an AMD A10 processor. However, this new model – so new that it hadn't been added to HP's web site at the time of writing – jumps up to a more mid-range £699 with a Haswell-generation Intel Core i5 processor running at 1.6 GHz, 8 GB of memory, 750 GB hard disk. For graphics it adds an nVidia GeForce GT 740M to the Intel CPU's integrated HD Graphics 4400. See also See also: Best laptop of 2014.

That's the only configuration currently available for the 15-inch model, although there's a 14-inch version also available for a reasonable £449 – albeit without the nVidia graphics and just 4 GB of memory. Take a look at what's the best laptop for under £1,000?

It's not particularly exciting too look at, with a plain matt-black keyboard panel and a few bits of silvery trim here and there. However, it's solidly built with a firm, comfortable keyboard and large trackpad (110 x 53mm).

The downside of that sturdy build is that the TouchSmart 15 weighs a full 2.6 kg, which is heavy even for a 15-inch laptop such as this with a built-in DVD drive. It may not be the sort of thing you'd want to carry around in a backpack too often, so it's probably more suited to life at home or in an office.

As the TouchSmart name implies, the screen is touch-sensitive, and it provides a bright, colourful image with good viewing angles. However, the resolution is only 1366 x 768 pixels, which might have been acceptable in one of its more affordable predecessors but is a sign of corner cutting at this price.

The screen is also very glossy, and throws off a lot of glare and reflection whenever the sun comes peaking out between the winter clouds.

The speakers work well – they're a little tinny on higher frequencies, but they produce a pleasantly full sound so that you can listen to some music without demanding headphones or external speakers.

Performance is quite respectable too. Admittedly, a score of 2860 points on the PCMark 7 benchmark isn't going to win any awards, but it's not at all bad for a laptop that uses an ageing 5400 rpm hard disk.

The Core i5 processor provides enough horsepower to handle Microsoft Office and web browsing with ease, while that 8 GB of memory ensures that it can tackle more demanding tasks such as video-editing as well. One place  you'll really notice the sluggish hard drive is when you perform a cold Windows boot, which involves about 45 seconds of warming up followed by another 15 seconds of cursor-spinning before the laptop fully comes to life. Using the Windows 8 ‘fast start' option – another name for sleep hibernation – cut boot time down to a more respectable 15 seconds.

And, of course, there's that nVidia GeForce GT 740M graphics card. This allowed the TouchSmart 15 to hit 60 fps when running our Stalker test at the laptop's native 1366 x 768 resolution. And if you can live without the DirectX 11 eye-candy effects it can run the more demanding Batman: Arkham City at a playable 30 fps as well, so it's certainly capable of some casual gaming action when the need arises.

Battery life isn't too bad. Switching to the integrated HD 4400 graphics allowed the HP TouchSmart 15 to run 5 hours and 45 minutes of streaming video via Wi-Fi.

HP Pavilion TouchSmart 15 review: Specs

  • 15.6-inch (1366 x 768) touch-sensitive LCD
  • 1.6 GHz Intel i5-4200U (2.6GHz Turbo)
  • Windows 8.1 (64-bit)
  • 8 GB DDR3 SDRAM
  • 750 GB hard drive (5400 rpm)
  • 802.11b/g/n
  • 1x HDMI
  • 2x USB 3.0, 1x USB 2.0
  • SDXC card slot
  • 10/100 ethernet
  • 720p webcam/microphone
  • SuperMulti DVD burner
  • headphone socket
  • 41 Whr lithium-ion battery
  • 386 x 258 x 24.7 mm
  • 2.6
  • 15.6-inch (1366 x 768) touch-sensitive LCD
  • 1.6 GHz Intel i5-4200U (2.6GHz Turbo)
  • Windows 8.1 (64-bit)
  • 8 GB DDR3 SDRAM
  • 750 GB hard drive (5400 rpm)
  • 802.11b/g/n
  • 1x HDMI
  • 2x USB 3.0, 1x USB 2.0
  • SDXC card slot
  • 10/100 ethernet
  • 720p webcam/microphone
  • SuperMulti DVD burner
  • headphone socket
  • 41 Whr lithium-ion battery
  • 386 x 258 x 24.7 mm
  • 2.6

OUR VERDICT

The lack of decent screen resolution is disappointing in a laptop costing Almost £700, but the Pavilion TouchSmart 15 is a solid workhorse of a laptop with a reasonable mid-range price tag. It's not particularly portable, but it'll be a choice for people who want a fairly powerful all-round Windows laptop that can be used as a desktop-replacement PC at home.

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