September 20, 2012, 12:06 AM — Hewlett-Packard on Thursday announced new Pavilion Sleekbooks, which the company is pitching as laptops that are cheaper than ultrabooks but competitive in weight and thickness.
The new Pavilion Sleekbooks will come in two models. The Sleekbook 14 has a 14-inch screen and a starting price of US$499.99, and the Sleekbook 15 has a 15.6-inch screen and a starting price of $559.99.
The laptops will ship in the U.S. on Oct. 26 with Microsoft's Windows 8 OS, which is due to start shipping around the same time. The Sleekbook 14 will have Advanced Micro Devices A-series processors code-named Trinity, while the Sleekbook 15 will have Intel Core processors based on the Ivy Bridge microarchitecture. HP could not talk about worldwide availability for the laptops.
In May, HP announced Envy Sleekbooks with similar screen sizes and with prices starting at $699. The prices of those laptops have already dropped by about $100.
At 21 millimeters thick and under 1.8 kilograms, the new Pavilion Sleekbooks have received a similar downsizing treatment to ultrabooks but are less expensive, said Kevin Wentzel, technical marketing manager at HP.
Ultrabooks start at around $600 and have to be designed to strict requirements set by Intel. For example, ultrabooks can use only Core processors and cannot be more than 21 millimeters thick.
"I always talk about Sleekbooks as a kind of superset of Ultrabook, where Ultrabook has strict requirements in terms of size, technology, weight, all of that. Sleekbooks expand that and give us a few more options," Wentzel said.
For example, Sleekbooks allow the company to offer AMD chips, multiple graphics processor options and more storage, Wentzel said. The Sleekbooks come with the option of Nvidia graphics processors, up to 8GB of RAM and 1TB of hard-drive storage.
"Lots of people like the ultraportability and thinness, but were probably waiting for a price point they can afford. We feel like we're getting that market now," Wentzel said.
Wentzel couldn't say if the Sleekbooks already on sale have done well so far. Many ultrabooks have also been shown with detachable touchscreens to function as tablets, and Wentzel couldn't comment on the future of Sleekbooks. However, Advanced Micro Devices has demonstrated a thin and light laptop from Compal with a detachable touchscreen that doubles as a tablet.