HP Pavilion Sleekbook 15z-b000 Review

By  |  0 Comments

The HP Pavilion Sleekbook 15z-b000 is a decent “round the house” ultraportable laptop, but please keep the AC adapter handy if you surf the Web unplugged.

(3.5 out of 5)

Pros

  • Good price
  • Clear, bright screen
  • Numeric keypad
  • Removable battery
  • HDMI and Ethernet ports

Cons

  • Keyboard feels mediocre
  • No touch screen
  • Short battery life
  • USB 3.0 ports are black

The HP Pavilion Sleekbook 15z-b000 ($554.99 direct) is a configure-to-order ultraportable laptop that starts at $479.99 base, though our review unit came with an upgraded AMD A8 processor that added a $75 premium. The 15z-b000 is sufficient for the non-demanding user, giving them a quad-core processor, competitive 3D graphics, and a good-sized hard drive for storage. Shining spots include a really nice screen and a removable battery (important if you think that sealed batteries speed up planned obsolescence). This system is ultimately held back by its short battery life, so-so performance, and better-featured competitors with the same price or better.

Design and Features
The Sleekbook 15z-b000 is ultrabook-thin at 0.83 by 16 by 10 inches (HWD), with a shiny “sparkling black” finish all around. It weighs 4.56 pounds, which is average for the 15-inch ultraportable class. You can also order the 15z-b000 in blue or red for an additional $25. The blue or red color covers the keyboard deck and lid, but in all three cases the bezel around the screen remains black. The system comes with a chiclet-style keyboard with a full numeric keypad to the right. The keys don’t feel quite as solid as they do on the keyboard on the entry-level ultrabook Editors’ Choice Asus VivoBook S400CA-UH51 ($699), but they get the job done.

It looks like HP shifted its money to the 15z-b000′s 15.6-inch screen. It is bright, with smooth visuals on its 1,366-by-768-resolution display. Videos, pictures, and Websites look very good on the display, better than you’d expect from a budget system. The screen doesn’t have touch capabilities, which is becoming an almost must have feature for Windows 8, but it’s understandable considering the system’s sub-$600 price.

You get a decent set of components for the price, including a 500GB hard drive, and 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi. The system comes with a pair of USB 3.0 ports, SD card reader, a single USB 2.0 port, HDMI, and Ethernet ports. Unfortunately the USB 3.0 ports are black, like the single USB 2.0 port, so you have to be carful you’re not plugging a speedy USB 3.0 drive in the slower USB 2.0 port. HDMI and full-size Ethernet is a nice touch and comes in useful if you need to connect to a wired router or HDTV, which is one reason to get this system over a more compact tablet with keyboard dock like the Dell XPS 10 ($679). The XPS 10 is a Windows RT tablet, which means it trades legacy Windows program compatibility for phenomenal battery life (over 20 hours). The 15z-b000 has Altec Lansing speakers with Dolby optimization, but they’re not really suited for more than simple sounds from your programs or from the web. You’re better off listening to music or movies on headphones or external speakers.

There’s a large amount of pre-loaded software. Granted, most of the software is beneficial, particularly if you already subscribe to some of the services, but it still takes up a lot of space on the Start screen and in desktop mode. The 15z-b000 comes with Solitaire, HP Games, Mahjong Solitaire, HP Connected Photo (Snapfish), HP+ (shopping), Kindle, Skype, iheartradio, Norton Internet Security, Netflix, eBay, Microsoft Office, HP Connected Music (by Meridian), and HP utilities like MyRoom 2 and HP Support.

The system does come with a Getting Started pane on the Start screen, which links to Windows 8 help files and videos. You’ll need them to learn all the tricks for Windows 8, particularly because the 15z-b000 doesn’t have a touch screen. The multi-touch trackpad supports Windows 8 gestures, but it’s no substitute for using a touch screen like the one on the similarly priced (but physically smaller) Asus VivoBook X202E-DH31T ($549). You can turn the textured trackpad off with a simple double touch on an embedded button, in case you’re using an external mouse, or are going to be typing for a while.

Performance
The 15z-b000 comes with a quad-core AMD A8 processor with integrated graphics. The integrated graphics are competitive with the Intel HD Graphics 4000 found in some competing laptops and ultrabooks, but the A8 is a quite a bit slower on the other benchmark tests. Suffice to say that you might be waiting a while if you like to edit videos or photos as a hobby. The 15z-b000 is fast enough to display 1080p HD video (scaled down to the 1,366-by-768 screen) with nary a hiccup or skipped frame. Web surfing is also sufficiently fast, though the system’s PCMark 7 becnhmark score lagged its competition.

Performance Chart

Speaking of lagging the competition, the 15z-b000 returned a low 3 hours 20 minutes on our battery rundown test, behind the Asus X202E (3:50), Asus S400CA (4:18) and the budget ultraportable EC Acer Aspire V5-571-6891 ($500) (4:07). The 15z-b000′s low battery score is tempered by the removable battery (you can replace a discharged one with a fully charged spare), but you’ll have to plan ahead to take advantage of that situation. It’s best to keep the system near its AC adapter and a power plug.

The HP Pavilion Sleekbook 15z-b000 is a tractable, utilitarian ultraportable, with a good feature set. It’s going to serve a general user well, particularly if you’re limited to a sub-$600 budget and need a full keyboard. However, the Asus VivoBook X202E is a slightly better choice for learning Windows 8 on account of its touch screen, and the Editor’s Choice Acer Aspire V5 is a better overall choice if you really don’t want to bother with a touch screen.

By Joel Santo Domingo, PCMag

Specifications

  • Processor Name: AMD A8-4555M
  • Processor Speed: 1.7 GHz
  • Operating System: Microsoft Windows 8
  • RAM: 4 GB
  • Weight: 4.56 lb
  • Screen Size: 15.6 inches
  • Screen Type: Widescreen
  • Touchscreen: No
  • Graphics Card: AMD Radeon HD 7500G
  • Storage Capacity (as Tested): 500 GB
  • Networking Options: 802.11n

Leave a Reply