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HP Pavilion Sleekbook 14 – A Quick Review

12 November, 2012

I mentioned a couple of posts ago that I’d recently bought a new laptop, one just to be used for work purposes. Although I don’t usually go into much detail about new gadgets I’ve acquired (and there are a fair few gadgets floating around this house!), I thought now might be a good time to review this particular laptop – it’s only been on the market for a few weeks, and I had to take a bit of a gamble in buying it because I couldn’t find any online reviews. So, in order to help those who have been considering buying this machine – the HP Pavilion Sleekbook 14 – here are my thoughts.

Aesthetics: The Sleekbook is, as you’d expect given its name, fairly sleek. It’s thin, with attractively rounded edges that make it a bit different to the majority of similar laptops and ultrabooks I looked at. However, the glossy surfaces on both the laptop’s interior and exterior aren’t without issues: they pick up fingerprints quite easily, and attract dust as surely as a magnet attracts iron filings. Still, there’s a lot to like otherwise, in what’s generally a classy and understated design (although it would have been rather less understated if I’d managed to get the red version, which doesn’t seem to be available in the UK yet).

Screen: I dithered over screen sizes for a long time before buying this laptop, being unsure whether 14″ would make the machine too bulky. In actual fact though, it’s a very usable size – plenty large enough for a word processor or web browser not to look cramped, whilst keeping the laptop portable. The screen on the Sleekbook is also very clear and bright – amazingly so, when compared to my much larger desktop monitor. (When reading reviews, new laptops not coming with full HD screens seems to be a major bone of contention for many buyers. In my case, it made zero difference, as I’m pretty unconcerned about video quality and this is solely a work/writing machine anyway.)

Performance: The slightly better specs of the Sleekbook compared with similarly priced and sized laptops was one of the main reasons I bought it. With an Intel i3 processor and in-built SSD storage alongside a larger standard hard drive, it’s a reasonably fast and responsive machine, and stands up well against my more powerful (but older) gaming PC when browsing the web or writing. In layman’s terms, if you’re planning to use the Sleekbook for, say, blogging, making spreadsheets and listening to music, it’s plenty fast enough. If you’re planning to game or edit video, you might want to look elsewhere.

Battery life: It seems to be that, when considering a laptop manufacturer’s estimated battery life for any machine, you need to reduce it by about a third. The same seems to hold true for the Sleekbook – about 5 hours seems to be its average life, when running Scrivener, Spotify and Firefox at once, and with the screen brightness at about 50%. As a nice aside, this laptop has a removable battery, so if it starts to show its age and needs replacing, or if you just want to carry a fully-charged spare, your options are open. No sending the Sleekbook back to HP for a battery replacement, as you’d need to do with many modern laptops!

Keyboard: The quality of the keyboard was a big factor for me when choosing a laptop. Whilst I do sometimes miss the slight curve (which makes an amazing difference to how easy it is to use the the left-shift and number 2 with one hand – for speech marks on a UK keyboard) and more solid keys of my desktop keyboard, the Sleekbook stands up well. The keys are responsive, you can feel them depress when you hit them (the same can’t be said for some laptops I tested) and everything is both nicely spaced and not too small. My only complaint is the position of ‘delete’: small and right in the top corner!

Trackpad: I’ve been less impressed with the trackpad. Although the two distinct buttons work fine, I’ve found the pad itself tends to be either too sensitive, or completely ignores my touch. I’ll admit I’m slowly growing more used to it – and that I generally dislike laptop trackpads in general so was never inclined to be kind! – but I’ll still be buying a small mouse to carry when I’m taking the Sleekbook away from home.

Portability: I’ve covered size and battery life – both of which make the Sleekbook reasonably portable – which just leaves weight. I’ll admit, it’s heavier than I anticipated, but I suspect that’s because all the laptop reviews I’ve read have been American, weighing their machines in pounds (which I only use when baking!), so I really didn’t have anything to compare this laptop to. Suffice to say, I think you could quite easily carry the Sleekbook around with you for the day, but you might notice its weight after an hour or two (which I imagine is the same for all laptops, no matter how slim and light they claim to be).

Windows 8: This, unfortunately, is where the Sleekbook falls down for me. I always knew that buying a Windows 8 machine was a gamble, and it’s only half paid off. It’s clear that Win 8 is designed for touchscreens – without one, everything feels a bit spread out and inaccessible. Additionally, though a traditional desktop can be used, there’s no start menu, and I really do miss it. I have no doubt there’ll soon be a third-party add-on to provide a start menu, though, meaning the desktop will be much like Windows 7 (which I rather like), and the ‘Metro’ interface with its big, bright tiles will be more of a glorified screensaver (although admittedly one that shows you news, weather and handy email notifications). Also, there will hopefully soon be fixes to get Windows 8 to play better with Flash, which when not working, I’ve discovered, seems to crash half the webpages I visit!

Final notes: There’s a more complete list of specifications over at the John Lewis website, which seems to be one of very few places offering the Sleekbook in the UK at the moment. Incidentally, I bought the laptop in a John Lewis store, and was very impressed with the service there – quick, knowledgeable (the member of staff mentioned, as a comparison, the exact same Lenovo laptop I’d also been considering), with no attempt to get me to buy any expensive ‘added extras’ or extended warranties. Well done, John Lewis!

So, there’s my ‘short’ (yeah… not sure what happened there) review of the HP Pavilion Sleekbook 14. It’s certainly not comprehensive, but it covers everything I was concerned about when buying this laptop, and I hope it’ll help a few prospective buyers, too.

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9 Comments
  1. 31 December, 2012 10:53 am

    I’ve just been hunting for HP Pavilion Sleekbook reviews, and as you suggested there aren’t that many, so this review was invaluable. Thanks for going into such detail, much appreciated.

    • 31 December, 2012 4:27 pm

      Glad the review was useful for you, Stuart. I’d imagined more reviews would be starting to appear by now, but judging by how many hits I get on this one, maybe not!

  2. Duke permalink
    4 January, 2013 5:34 am

    Hi Amy. Thanks for the much useful reviewI still have some concerns before buying one:
    – The battery is only 4-cell. How long does it last with surfing multiple tabs, some music and some more excel?
    – Hows the heat ̣̣̣(with aforementioned tasks)? HP laptop is notorious for overheating.
    -Is it sturdy enough? I mean build quality. I know it’s all plastic but Id like to hear your opinion

    Thanks in advanced

    • 5 January, 2013 10:41 am

      Hi Duke,
      I’d say the battery life seems to be in the 4-5 hours region when running a few things at once. That’s not quite as much as I was hoping for, but all the laptops I looked at with better battery life are a lot more expensive.
      It does run very cool though. I mostly sit with the laptop on my knee, and it really doesn’t feel to give out much heat at all, even after a couple of hours.
      I’d say the build quality is very reasonable for a plastic laptop. There’s not a lot of flex in the plastic, and although it’s not as strong as an expensive ultrabook, the hinges and casing feel like they’re going to last.
      Hope that helps!

  3. 11 January, 2013 7:48 pm

    Hi Amy! I´m from Brazil and I’ll buy this sleekbook next week. Your review was very, very useful for me. Thanks!

    • 16 January, 2013 3:10 pm

      Glad I could help, Eugenio. 🙂

  4. 17 January, 2013 10:05 am

    Hello again

    Just thought I’d follow up my previous post and say that I ended up buying a HP Sleekbook from John Lewis in the end.

    For the first 24 hours it was a disaster- the screen displayed completely the wrong colours, the interference was terrible, you could barely see what you were doing. Luckily I was able to take it straight back to John Lewis who swapped it for a different new one, and that time around it actually had a working monitor, so all was well.

    After that initial blip, I’ve been very happy with it so far. Yes it’s a little plasticky compared to laptops that are twice the price, but the battery life so far has seemed excellent, it’s fast enough for normal use, it boots very quickly… does everything I need.

    Thanks again for the helpful review.

    • 17 January, 2013 10:44 am

      It’s a shame you had just a disastrous first attempt with the Sleekbook, Stuart, but good on John Lewis for sorting it out quickly. I’ve been very impressed with them recently – and the Sleekbook, which I’m writing on now!

      • 17 January, 2013 10:55 am

        Agreed about John Lewis. I would’ve been willing to pay a bit extra to get the laptop I wanted at John Lewis, instead of buying it from a different store. And of course, the first HP’s faulty screen was no fault of John Lewis, and it was all sorted within half an hour. They even let me unwrap and boot up the second laptop within the store to double-check that the screen was better this time, before I took it home.

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