The HP 15-b129wm Sparkling Black is a 15.6-inch thin-class touchscreen laptop belonging to the Pavilion TouchSmart Sleekbook budget consumer series. It will be on sale on 2013 Black Friday (Thanksgiving evening 8PM more precisely) for $388, down from $488.
The 15-b129wm follows the traditional laptop format, but is thinner than many other low-cost 15.6-inch notebooks and doesn’t have a built-in DVD burner. It’s 0.95″ thin when looking from a side, but it’s weight or 5.6 pounds is hefty for a laptop with no DVD. Main computing relies on the AMD A6-4455M dual-core processor from last year’s AMD Piledriver family. This chip is designed for use in thin systems. It is optimized to have a low power consumption and run cool, at the expense of a somewhat slower computing speed. With it’s PassMark benchmark score of 1,314 points, the A6-4455M is far behind the Intel Core i3-3217U (2,269 points) used in similar systems, let alone the newest i5-4200U for mid-range laptops, scoring 3,364. The Radeon HD 7500M graphics unit integrated into it is faster than the comparable Intel integrated solutions, but it still isn’t a gaming-class GPU by no means. However, it’s more than sufficient to manage the 1366-by-768 display panel and does play full HD 1080p videos with no lag.
The chassis is done up in glossy black plastics, which has a metallic “sparkling” look. Besides the glossy multit-touch display, the interior is dominated by a spacious chiclet keyboard with numeric pad on the right side and a trackpad with physical buttons, whereas the sides house three USBs, HDMI, a multi-format card reader, and Ethernet LAN network jack. For wireless networking, the 15-b129wm sports built-in Wi-Fi, while video chats are supported via a 720p webcam. For sound, HP has incldued a pair of embedded stereo speakers, enhanced by Dolby Advanced audio technology.
According to the manufacturer, the battery life on this model is up to 3 hours and 45 minutes.
To conclude, Walmart’s HP Sparkling Black 15.6″ Pavilion TouchSmart 15-b129wm is a cheap way to experience touch functionality on Windows, but the price of $388 isn’t so attractive if you compare it to similar 15.6″ touch notebooks on the market, even without price reductions. Some examples are the aluminum Asus S500CA, selling right now for $400 and up and the 400-dollar Toshiba C55DT-A5307 with built-in DVD. Both of them have faster CPUs than the one in the 15-b129wm. On the other hand, if you don’t mind having a slightly smaller screen, you can go for the 14″ HP 14-b109wm from the same laptop family and with similar CPU speed. Its great advantage is the Black Friday discount price of only $278, $110 less expensive than the 15.6-incher.
Note: The first image shows an HP 15 Pavilion TouchSmart Sleekbook model with an European keyboard, while the 15-b129wm normally has a US keyboard. Otherwise, both look the same.
HP 15-b129wm Specifications
- 15.6″-diagonal multitouch screen, 1366-by-768-pixel resolution, glossy coating
- AMD A6-4455M “Piledriver” dual-core, 2.1GHZ default speed, up to 2.6GHz in Turbo mode, 2MB cache
- AMD Radeon HD 7500G integrated graphics
- 4GB DDR3 memory, 2 user-accessible slots, 1 occupied
- 500GB HDD at 5,400rpm, no optical drive
- 720p HP TrueVision webcam
- Altec Lansing stereo speakers, Dolby Advanced audio
- Network: 802.11b/g/n Wireless-N, Ethernet LAN
- Input: chiclet-style keyboard with numeric pad, multitouch trackpad with physical buttons
- Ports and slots: 2 x USB 3.0; 1 x USB 2.0, 1 x HDMI, 1 x multiformat media card reader
- Battery: 4-cell 37WHr lithium-ion; 3.75 hours
- Dimensions: 0.95″ x 15.19″ x 10.2″
- Weight: 5.6 pounds
- OS: Windows 8
- Warranty: 1-year
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