HP is filling out its homemade "Sleekbook" brand (read: not quite an ultrabook) with a couple of new 15.6-inch models here at CES. The headline act is the Pavilion TouchSmart Sleekbook, which, as the name belies, is equipped with a touchscreen for Windows 8. The specifications of the machine aren't terribly impressive, but that's because the price of the base configuration is $649.99. That doesn't make it the cheapest touchscreen Windows 8 clamshell laptop we've seen — there are smaller ones like Asus' $499 Vivobook and plenty of touchscreen convertible tablets with weaker Intel Clover Trail processors — but the TouchSmart Sleekbook does stack up well price-wise with rivals like the Acer V5 and the Sony T13. Unlike either of those, however, HP's machine opts for an AMD A8 APU instead of an Intel processor. The rest of the base specs are rounded out with 6GB of RAM, a 750GB hard drive, as well as an HDMI, USB 3.0, and USB 2.0 port. There's no optical drive and we're told it will weigh about five pounds.
We had the opportunity to use the machine at a recent press event, and there's no doubt that there's a marked drop-off in build quality compared to the Envy models. The Sleekbook is completely wrapped in plastic, and it hardly has a reassuring feel. The model we used was "early pre-production," but we hope that HP addresses the laptop's hinge: the all-plastic design was loose, and the display wiggled as we inputted touch commands. The screen is also disappointingly washed-out — and that's not to mention the skimpy 1366 x 768 resolution filling out the 15.6-inch display. Unfortunately there won't be an option to bump up that resolution. If you're not interested in touch, HP is also announcing an (otherwise identical) non-touch version called the Pavilion Sleekbook, which costs $479.99 and comes with an AMD A6 APU, 4GB of RAM, and a 500GB hard drive. It'll be available on January 13th, while the TouchSmart will hit shelves on February 15th.