The Pavilion 15 TouchSmart cost £700 when HP originally launched it at the end of 2013. But it has recently come down in price and now represents something of a bargain at just £500.
It's not, admittedly, the most portable of budget laptops – we weighed it at 2.6 kg, rather than the 2.5 kg quoted by HP, and it measures 24.7 mm thick. That's now big and heavy even for a 15.6-inch screen model with built-in DVD drive, so the Pavilion 15 TouchSmart may be better suited to spending more of its time at home or in the office.
It's well equipped for both work and entertainment, though. The 1366 x 768 resolution of the touch-sensitive screen would be below par if the Pavilion still cost £700, but it's more acceptable on a £500 budget. And the bright, colourful screen provides good all-round viewing angles. It'll certainly work well for watching streaming video, and the DVD drive means that you can plough through the latest Game Of Thrones box set without having to wait for it to appear on Netflix.
The speakers lack bass and sound tinny, but they're fairly loud so you can watch a film or listen to some music without needing to use headphones or external speakers. However, it's a bit odd that the Pavilion doesn't include Bluetooth, so if you want to use a set of Bluetooth speakers you'll need to buy a separate Bluetooth adaptor.
If you need to get some work done you'll find that the keyboard is firm and comfortable, and there's also a numeric keyboard for number-crunching in the office. The Pavilion 15 TouchSmart can handle a wide range of applications, thanks to an Intel Core i5 processor running at 1.6 GHz, 8 GB of memory and 750 GB of hard disk space.
That combination helped the Pavilion along to a score of 2874 points when running the PCMark 7 benchtest – which is about as good as you'll get from a laptop with a hard drive. It'll certainly be able to handle web browsing and Microsoft Office, as well as more demanding tasks such as photo or video-editing
The Pavilion 15 TouchSmart can even turn its hand to some 3D gaming, thanks to the inclusion of an nVidia GeForce GT 740M graphics card. You're not going to get a serious gaming laptop for £500, but the Pavilion managed a comfortable 50 fps when running our Stalker gaming test, which is perfectly adequate for the occasional spot of casual gaming. Battery life is good too, as the Haswell-generation Core i5 processor assisted this laptop's way to 5 hours and 45 minutes in our streaming video tests.
The size and weight of the Pavilion 15 TouchSmart suggest that it's more intended as a desktop replacement system for use at home or in the office. However, its all-round performance, combined with an attractive screen and optical drive, provide very good value for money, and ensure that the Pavilion 15 TouchSmart will appeal to most users on a tight budget.