Pressure from Apple's MacBook Air has sent the PC industry into a spiral of thin-and-light craziness. HP's getting in on the action too, with a new skinny machine called the HP Envy Sleekbook. Powered by AMD and coming in 14 and 15.6-inch sizes, I've been hands-on with the Sleekbook ahead of its launch. Read on for my first impressions.
The HP Envy Sleekbook will be available in the UK from July, with prices kicking off at £549. Expect the cost to jump up if you opt for the 15.6-inch version. The images above are of the 15.6-inch edition, but check out our hands-on with the 14-inch HP Envy Ultrabook for an idea of what the smaller version looks like.
Sleekbook? Is that like an ultrabook?
The Sleekbook is exactly like an ultrabook -- in fact this machine is visually identical to the HP Envy Ultrabook, which also comes in 14- and 15.6-inch options and was announced at the same time. But Intel owns the 'ultrabook' name, and since these PCs are powered by AMD chips, HP has cunningly gone with 'Sleekbook'.
Crafty. But the Sleekbook has a starting price £100 lower than the HP Envy Ultrabook, making this a potentially more tempting proposition.
To be brutally honest, using the terms 'ultrabook' or 'sleekbook' to describe this laptop is slightly misleading, as while it's reasonably thin at 19.8mm, the Sleekbooks are nowhere near as skinny or classy as the wedge-shaped MacBook Air, or even HP's own Envy Spectre XT.
Take heart though -- the Sleekbook is still reasonably slim, and for a mid-range laptop it feels decently portable. Having a mildly bulkier chassis also makes room for more ports, which are detailed further down.
The rectangular styling Sleekbook looks decent enough, though the plastic chassis doesn't exactly ooze class. There's a brushed metal effect on the lid and keyboard surround, which clashes with the black gloss that surrounds the display. The screen itself packs a respectable 1,366x768 pixels.
The version in the photos above is red and black, though a silver version was also on show -- fingers crossed a selection of hues make it to the UK.
Like other HP laptops, the Sleekbook has speakers provided by Beats Audio. As such, there's a small lower-case 'b' sitting on the speaker grille.
Keyboard and trackpad
The keyboard sits within a recessed part of the chassis, with a healthy space between keys that should keep typing errors to a minimum. Helpfully, it's also backlit, which means you can keep on writing once the lights go out.
The trackpad has a psychedelic, swirled metal look, that I wouldn't exactly describe as demure, but at least it's different to most trackpads. Unfortunately, HP is still making the click buttons part of the touch-sensitive surface, which means you'll likely end up nudging the cursor by accident when you try to click on things.
Ports and hardware
There's a hearty port selection on show here. The left side plays host to an Ethernet port, HDMI out, two USB ports and an SD card slot -- handy for yanking photos off your digital camera.
Spin the laptop around and along the right you'll find two 3.5mm sockets for a microphone and headphones and another USB port, which makes three in total -- one of which is USB 3.0.
There's 500GB of storage on an HDD hard drive with 32GB of SSD cache on the 15.6-inch version, while the 14-inch model has a 320GB HDD. Hybrid mechanical and solid state hard drives will be an option, or you can upgrade to an SSD drive. Expect that to make the Sleekbook more expensive -- although it might be worth the extra pennies. Solid state drives are better because they're faster than their mechanical counterparts, and lack moving parts, so are less susceptible to knocks.
I'm excited to see what performance the AMD chips inside the Sleekbook can deliver -- we'll know for sure once we get this PC into our testing lab, so stay tuned.
The design of the Sleekbook doesn't exactly feel all that sleek, but I'm intrigued by the price. Starting at £549, if performance and battery life are up to scratch, this could be a great value machine.
Editors' note: Luke Westaway saw the HP Envy Sleekbook at an HP event in Shanghai. His flight and accommodation were paid for
by HP, but the company had no input into the content of this