HP Pavilion 11 TouchSmart Review
- Excellent battery life
- Well built
- Good display with consistent touchscreen response
- Comfortable keyboard
- Multi-tasking performance is average
- Glossy display
The logical successor to the Pavilion dm1, the Pavilion TouchSmart 11 is a most attractive buy at its price. The excellent battery life and the responsive 11.6-inch touchscreen add to the compact and very portable design. This is a perfect laptop for someone buying one for the first time, or for someone who cares only about good battery life and doesn't mind a smaller screen.
When you are looking at an affordable laptop within a strict budget, usually, the compromise is a tad too much. However, the HP Pavilion 11 TouchSmart does not feel or perform like a compromise would. Powered by the AMD A4 APU, this machine is the logical successor to the hugely popular Pavilion dm1, which also offered an AMD APU solution in its time.
Build & Design: Compact beauty
Straight out of the box, the Pavilion TouchSmart 11 has a silver plastic lid with a smooth, non-shiny finish. The chrome HP logo sits in the centre, but isn’t illuminated. Open the lid, and the black matte finish on the keyboard deck delivers a rather neat contrast. The only glossy element on the machine really is the keyboard bed, which has a glossy black finish. The side spines get the silver colour as well, where all the connectivity options are spread. The base again reverts to the black matte colour. For a laptop this size, the thick and rounded hinge design really does stand out, and for all the show, it delivers on solidity. The display will not rock about when the machine is in use. While the machine has no aluminum, the plastic used is very good quality and the finish is top quality. Clearly, no corners have been cut while putting the Pavilion 11 TouchSmart together, and surely the potential buyer would appreciate it.
The lid hinge adds extra solidity to the laptop.
The port placement on the Pavilion 11 TouchSmart.
With the 11.6-inch display, the Pavilion TouchSmart 11 measures 11.4 x 8.5 x 0.86 inches and weighs 1.5 kg. All in all, it’s a fairly light machine in terms of sheer numbers, but for a machine with an 11.6-inch display, we would have hoped for it to be lighter.
But as it is, the Pavilion TouchSmart 11 is a machine that feels and looks like a laptop that could have been a lot more expensive than it actually is. The materials used are of very good quality, and HP must be complemented for not letting the affordable price hamper the looks. It’s important to point out that even the older Pavilion dm1 was also similarly very well built. However, while the dm1 had a glossy black finish, the matte dual colour finish on the Pavilion 11 seem totally worth the affection.
Performance: Not for multi-tasking
With a 1-GHz dual-core AMD A4-1250 processor, 4GB of DDR3 RAM and a 5,400 rpm 320GB hard drive, it would be unfair to expect blistering performance from the TouchSmart 11. While these specs are certainly enough to drive Windows 8, and offer a basic level of performance that gets most tasks done quickly, don't expect to multitask beyond a level. Open five tabs in Chrome, have iTunes playing some tunes in the background and then try to open Microsoft Word 2013, and you’ll notice the inordinate amount of time it takes to do so.
Synthetic benchmarks, such as the general performance test PCMark 7, verifies the reality that this machine will not multi-task. The TouchSmart 11 scored 1360 in this test, not even coming close to the 2613 which was delivered by the AMD Quad-Core A8-4500M processor in the HP Pavilion G6-2301ax, a machine that costs only Rs. 2,000 more. Surely, the TouchSmart 11 deserves an upgrade to the quad core AMD APU in the near future.
Graphics: Casual games only
The Radeon HD 8210 GPU is meant only for a very casual gaming experience. Basic games will play okay, but anything heavier will be playable only at the very lowest settings. Interestingly, the HP still managed to score better than the Intel HD 4000 in the Asus VivoBook F202e. This machine scored 859 in the 3D Mark 11 test, while the VivoBook F202e scored 611 in the same test. It does not mean much, but will serve as a reference for those who really love comparisons!
Keyboard: Excellent. No other word does justice
The keyboard design and layout is exactly the same as the ones on the much bigger ENVY notebooks, and offers the same “MacBook-ish” precision and experience. It’s by far the best among all the affordable notebooks, and that says a lot. To fit the keyboard within the small dimensions of the laptop, the key size is smaller than on the bigger TouchSmart ultrabooks and laptops, but the key spacing and the sharp response and travel is exactly as good as in the bigger versions. An adequate palm-rest area, assisted by the centre aligned touchpad, means typing out long documents will not be a problem at all, and the great touchpad is an additional bonus - it is big enough for multi-finger gestures and the separate right and left click keys make usability a lot smoother.
The Pavilion 11 TouchSmart has an excellent keyboard.
Display: Glossy, but works most of the time
The 11.6-inch touchscreen display is pretty much at par with the F202e in terms of crispness and colour reproduction. However, the depth in black levels was better in the latter, something that shows up on the TouchSmart 11’s display when you turn up the brightness above 60%, and the blacks begin to look like dark greys. The reflectiveness of the Pavilion 11’s display is also an issue and causes problems when the screen is viewed from different angles.
Battery Life: Almost ultrabook-ish
However, where the TouchSmart 11 really needs to be praised is when it comes to its battery life. In our battery tests, this machine clocked 248 minutes. This easily translates into the ultrabook-ish 6 hours of battery life under most usage scenarios, with the Wi-Fi connected throughout and brightness around 30%. Overall, a rather impressive package at an affordable price tag.
Bottomline: Totally worth it!
For what is the logical successor to the Pavilion dm1, the HP Pavilion 11 TouchSmart make a good overall impression. The keyboard is excellent, the display works as long as you get used to its glossy nature, the battery life is unbelievably good and the build quality is something that would be at home on a much more expensive machine. Overall, at around Rs. 8,000 lesser than the Asus VivoBook, the Pavilion 11 TouchSmart is a neat alternative that you can consider.