HP Pavilion TouchSmart (15-p067ca) Laptop Review

Rating:

*Note from Staples* We do not carry this product anymore but please check out this alternative HP product called HP Pavilion (15-p187ca) TouchSmart Notebook.

Many low-priced laptops these days have shifted to screens smaller than 13 inches and ditched the DVD drive in order to keep costs down and deliver a PC that won’t weigh your bag down too much when you’re toting it around.

But that’s not the best option for everyone. A larger-screen laptop means less squinting during those long hours of studying (or when you’re just kicking back and streaming some video). And a larger laptop makes space for a keyboard that’s roomy and therefore much more comfortable to type on. If a fairly large screen and an optical drive are important, and you’re looking for a modern laptop that prioritizes comfortable use over fancy features like a fold-over hinge or a detachable screen, the $599 HP Pavilion (15-p067ca) TouchSmart is a decent choice.

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The laptop’s AMD processor isn’t as speedy in most common tasks as an Intel-based system with a Core i5 or higher processor, and battery life is a bit short. But the TouchSmart has a roomy (if not speedy) 750 gigabyte hard drive, a DVD drive, 6GB of RAM (plenty for Web browsing and mainstream productivity) and a comfortable, roomy keyboard and touchpad.

The TouchSmart, as you might have guessed by its name, is also equipped with a 15.6-inch touchscreen. A touchscreen isn’t essential, but it does make Windows 8.1 a lot more intuitive. So if you’re moving from an older PC with Windows 7 or XP, a touchscreen will reduce the amount of frustration you may feel when getting used to a very different (in some ways, at least) version of Windows. Once you get used to reaching out and touching your laptop screen, you may be surprised how often you do so to click a link or launch a program or app.

Design

At about an inch thick and 2.55 kilograms, the TouchSmart 15-p067ca is definitely no premium ultraportable laptop. But its silver shell, with its textured, ridged top, doesn’t feel cheap, and isn’t prone to picking up fingerprints.

Lifting up the lid, the keyboard tray has an attractive brushed-metal look, with a roomy 4.75-inch (diagonal) trackpad that sits flush with the wrist area, which is helpful when executing Windows 8 gestures (like swiping in from the side to bring up the Charms bar or cycle through running apps). This area does pick up fingerprints and grease smears, but it’s easy to wipe down.

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The Beats-branded speakers, which sit above the keyboard and below the screen, are quite good for a mainstream laptop. They get reasonably loud, without sounding noticeably distorted, even at maximum volume. There isn’t as much discernable bass as I’d like, but there are plenty of laptops on the market that cost more and sound worse.

Port selection should suffice for most students and mainstream users. The left edge houses the power jack, Ethernet, HDMI, and two USB 3.0 ports. Also on the left edge: a handy full-size SD card slot for grabbing files off a camera or other device. On the right edge you’ll find a lock slot, the tray-loading DVD drive, a USB 2.0 port, and the headphone/mic jack.

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The TouchSmart’s keyboard isn’t the best I’ve used (Lenovo’s ThinkPads and Dell’s business laptops are generally among the best for typing), but the keys here are large, generally well laid out, and have a nice matte finish, rather than the glossy keys of some notebooks. The keyboard overall also feels reasonably solid, with only a little noticeable keyboard flex when you press on the keys.

Most of the keys are full size, although the top function row is squished down to half normal height. HP also chose to compress the up and down arrow keys into a single key space and wedge them between the left and right arrow keys. That will take a little getting used to. Those who input lots of numbers will be happy to hear there’s a full number pad here, something that you generally don’t get in a laptop much smaller than 14 inches.

Backlight keys would be nice to have for typing in low light. But that’s a feature you really can’t expect from a laptop in this price range. Overall, the typing experience feels comfortable and not at all cramped. A smaller laptop may be more portable, but if you do a lot of typing your hands will definitely appreciate the extra room here.

Display

The TouchSmart’s 1,366×768-resolution screen is one area where it shows some of its budget-class roots. Aside from being glossy (which is par for the course for touchscreen laptops), the screen gets reasonably bright and looks good from a direct angle. But unlike premium screens in higher-end laptops, colours look a little washed out (especially in sunlight). Additionally, Contrast and colours shift if you tip the screen up or down several degrees, or look at it from off center. This isn’t a great screen for watching a movie with a few friends, but it’s also not the worst LCD panel I’ve seen in a laptop in this price range, either.

One other thing to consider if you’re planning on using your laptop for more than a couple years: The TouchSmart 15-p067ca has a removable battery, unlike most convertibles and higher-end slim laptops. After a couple years of heavy use, battery life often gets shorter and shorter as the cells inside wear out. On this system, you can press a couple buttons on the bottom, pop the battery out, and put a new one in, or buy an extra battery to carry around if you need more time away from the wall plug. And because HP sells a lot of laptops, a replacement battery should be easy to find. With many other laptops, which have sealed batteries, you’ll have to send them in to have the battery replaced (and likely pay for the service and shipping if it’s out of warranty).

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Performance

The quad-core AMD A6-6310 processor, 6GB of RAM, and 750GB hard drive in the Touchsmart 15-p067ca deliver enough performance to handle media playback, Web browsing, and mainstream productivity tasks (things like Office and image editing) quite well. I ran a handful of benchmarks, including PCMark 8 (to test overall performance), Cinebench (which tests CPU ability), and 3DMark (which measures gaming performance). In general, the TouchSmart 15-p067ca performs similarly in most tasks to what you’ll get from a system running a recent Intel Core i3-3227U CPU, like the one in Acer’s competing (and less-expensive) Aspire V5-571P-6631.

But if you’re planning on doing things like video editing, serious media creation, or more than light (mostly casual) gaming, you should look for a more powerful (and expensive) machine with an AMD A10 processor or an Intel-based Core i5 or i7 machine with a dedicated graphics chip.

The TouchSmart 15-p067ca can also feel a bit sluggish when launching programs, especially if you’re used to using a recent higher-end laptop or desktop. Out of the box, the TouchSmart boots reasonably quickly (under 20 seconds). But if you want a laptop that really feels responsive, you’ll want to pay extra for a system that has either a solid-state drive, or an SSD cache drive that’s paired with a standard hard drive. A fast solid-state drive will, in general, do more to make a computer “feel” fast and responsive than a more powerful processor. Still, while the storage here isn’t exactly fast, there’s a fair amount of space, with 750GB. Many laptops in this price range ship with smaller hard drives.

The TouchSmart 15-p067ca’s battery life also isn’t exactly stellar. When looping a 1080p video file, with the screen at 50 percent brightness and earbuds plugged in, playing back at 50 percent max volume, the laptop lasted 3 hours and 22 minutes before shutting down. You can expect somewhat longer battery life if you’re just writing emails or doing light Web browsing. But many modern laptops (most of them Intel-based) can last much longer before needing to be recharged. Acer’s V5-473P-6610, for instance, boasts a battery life rating of up to 8 hours, although that system does cost more.

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Conclusion

Battery life could be better, and the screen is average, but otherwise, the HP Pavilion Touchsmart 15-p067ca is a solid choice in a mainstream laptop—especially if you want a larger screen than many of the smaller models (which also do away with the DVD drive).

Its roomy keyboard and touchpad make this laptop a good fit for students or other users who plan on doing lots of typing. And the 750GB hard drive is large enough to store lots of files. Those looking to play modern high-end games or do CPU-taxing tasks like video editing or high-end content creation should look to a machine with a more powerful CPU and graphics chip. But for basic tasks or students looking for a solid back to school companion, this system is well equipped.

Included in the Box:

Laptop
Power cable
Basic setup papers

Summary
Review Date
Reviewed Item
HP Pavilion TouchSmart (15-p067ca) Laptop
Author Rating
4
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Matt Safford

Matt Safford spends his days testing gadgets and writing about technology. He has written for Popular Science, Smithsonian, Consumer Reports, and Wired.

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