HP announces more Sleekbooks as cheaper ultrabook alternatives

HP's Pavilion Sleekbooks start at $499.99 and are as thin and light as ultrabooks

Hewlett-Packard has 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.

HP also announced a new HP Notebook 3125 laptop, which is the successor to the popular Pavilion DM1Z laptop. The 3125 laptop, which looks more like a netbook than a laptop, has an 11.6-inch screen and AMD's low-power E2 processor, which puts a CPU and graphics cores in a single chip. HP did not disclose the price for the laptop. The DM1Z had AMD's older E1 chips, and the new E2 chips provide a performance and graphics boost.

HP also announced new ProBook 4445s, 4446s and 4546s laptops with 14-inch and 15.6-inch screens. The business laptops, which are priced starting at $499, will have AMD's latest A-series processors and optional Radeon graphics cards. The 4445s and 4446s will be available only in Asia-Pacific, while the 4546s will be available worldwide.

Agam Shah covers PCs, tablets, servers, chips and semiconductors for IDG News Service. Follow Agam on Twitter at @agamsh. Agam's e-mail address is agam_shah@idg.com

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