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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.

Inside is AMD's quad-core A4-5000 processor, which has 2MB of cache and a clock speed of 1.5GHz. HP also sells a version of the system with a 2GHz clock speed for an extra $30.

The system includes 4GB of RAM and can handle up to 8GB. It comes with a 500GB hard drive; HP offers 5GB of online storage through Box.

Like the VivoBook, the TouchSmart's 14-in. display offers a 1366 x 768 resolution. It uses AMD's Radeon 8330 graphics accelerator, which comes with a generous 512MB of dedicated video memory.

The TouchSmart's screen has a wide bezel around it which is slightly raised from the display, which makes some touch maneuvers near the display's edge a bit awkward — it could be hard to get into the corner of the screen to pull out the menus. In testing, the screen could respond to up to 10 independent finger inputs and worked well with two-finger gestures as well as a Wacom Bamboo stylus.

The system's hinge stops at a 45-degree angle and wobbled too much when tapped. In day-to-day use, I frequently found myself bracing it with my left hand while working with my right.

A responsive keyboard offers 19.0mm keys; however, they seemed to disappear into the black background, particularly when I was trying to work in the dark. The textured touchpad measures 3.9 x 1.8 in. and felt slightly cramped compared to the larger one on the VivoBook.

Above the screen is a webcam that can capture 0.9-megapixel video, along with a dual-microphone array that was able to cancel out some background hum and extraneous noises. The system has DTS+ digital audio enhancement, but the two speakers just above the keyboard tended to sound hollow and weren't as loud as the VivoBook's.

The TouchSmart comes with an HDMI port, one USB 2.0 port and two USB 3.0 ports. There's also an SD card slot. If you're planning to use it with older monitors or projectors, be aware that the TouchSmart lacks a VGA port.

The system comes with both an Ethernet port and 802.11n Wi-Fi built in. However, if you want Bluetooth, that's a $15 option.

Test results

The TouchSmart is a good performer in terms of graphics. The system's PerformanceTest 8.0 score of 823.7 makes it 8% slower than the VivoBook in terms of general tasks and overall performance. It makes up for that with a 12.78 fps score on the Cinebench 11.5 graphics benchmark, blowing away the VivoBook's 6.95 fps score.

At a Glance

HP Pavilion TouchSmart 14z-f000 Sleekbook

Hewlett-PackardPrice: $450Pros: Inexpensive, good battery life with a swappable battery, quad-core processor, good graphics performanceCons: Bluetooth an extra, heavier than usual


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