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2 Windows 8 touch-screen laptops for tight budgets

Brian Nadel | Aug. 16, 2013
If you don't want to spend much on a new laptop, but need a touch screen, try one of these under-$600 systems.

Test results

With a PassMark PerformanceTest score of 915.9, the VivoBook outperformed the TouchSmart by a little under 10%. It fell short on graphics, though, with a Cinebench graphics score of 6.95 fps compared to the TouchSmart's 12.78 fps. Its Cinebench processor score of 1.33 was also slightly behind that of the TouchSmart.

At a Glance

Asus VivoBook V400CA

AsusPrice:$540 - $590 (retail)Pros: Hybrid storage drive, good overall performance, accidental damage warranty, lightweightCons: Older processor, mediocre battery life

The VivoBook was able to play a continuous series of HD videos from a USB drive for 3 hours and 39 minutes, about than an hour less than the TouchSmart. With some judicious power conservation, it should be good enough for a school day, but if it's not, you can't swap the battery.

Thanks in part to the system's hybrid storage system, it took just 4.9 seconds for the VivoBook to wake up from hibernation mode. By contrast, the TouchSmart took 19.0 seconds.

Like the TouchSmart, the VivoBook comes with Windows 8 and the usual mix of software, including a one-month subscription to Trend Micro Titanium Internet Security.

There's also a neat utility: Tap the "<>" key in the upper right corner and the VivoBook interface comes up, which shows how much RAM and storage remains and provides access to Asus' online Cloud Storage and a variety of configuration options.

The system's one-year warranty includes accidental damage, including spills, drops, power surges and fire damage. A warranty extension to three years of coverage adds $129.

Bottom line

It may cost a little more than the TouchSmart and use some older technology, but the Asus VivoBook V400CA provides a lot of entry-level notebook for the money, including accidental damage coverage. For most students, it should be more than enough computer for schoolwork.

HP Pavilion TouchSmart 14z-f000 Sleekbook

The watchword for HP's Pavilion TouchSmart 14z is economy, but ironically, its $450 price might actually be a bit too low — it leaves out some must-have items, like Bluetooth.

HP Pavilion TouchSmart 14z Sleekbook

At 4.7 lb., the TouchSmart is more than half a pound heavier than the 4.1-lb. VivoBook. Although the laptop still easily fits into a backpack, its traditional AC adapter (with a three-prong plug) adds another 1.1 lb. to the weight.

With a footprint of 13.6 x 9.4 in., the system is a fraction of an inch wider than the VivoBook. Its height of 0.9 in. is about as slim as it gets for a budget machine these days.

The silver and black plastic case has rounded corners with sophisticated silver edging. HP also sells a similar model in white that costs $10 extra.


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