The HP 15 is a fairly competent laptop, at a very affordable price tag. Meant for someone who wants a machine for basic tasks, with a very good battery life. The 15.6-inch screen is one of the best in the category. Featuring a good keyboard and excellent build quality, this laptop surely doesn't betray its affordable price tag - a good deal overall. You must consider it if you are on a strict budget for your next laptop purchase.
Affordable laptops, we have said time and again, are usually a bundle of compromise. But, they really don’t have to be. Some of the recent affordable laptops we have tested have been working towards the right path. The Dell Inspiron 11 and the HP Touchsmart 11 are some examples. Now, the HP 15 follows up on the same path.
Build & Design
It is good to see that a laptop priced at less than Rs 30,000 comes with the kind of build quality that does not betray any “affordable” roots. Materials used are of a good quality, and more importantly, the way the laptop has been put together is top notch. Yes, there is the odd flex on the underside, and the keyboard deck dips a little when pressed hard, but none of this is to an extent that would disappoint. Incidentally, we have tested some more expensive laptops recently, that came with a shockingly build quality.
The ports are spread on the two side spines. The right side has the optical drive, and the two USB ports. The left side spine has one more USB port, HDMI out, ethernet port and the 3.5mm headphone jack.
Unfortunately, the glossy finish is back. The lid and the keyboard deck are adorned with the shiny black finish, the one that is extremely happy catching dust, fingerprints and scratches. In a solid shift from what most rivals offer, the bezel around the screen isn’t shiny though, and that is helpful when you may be watching a movie with less than perfect lighting around - things reflecting off the frame around the screen can be extremely distracting. We suggest that you better keep a cloth in the laptop bag, to keep this machine clean!
The HP 15-d008TU is powered by the Intel Pentium N3510 processor, clocking at 2GHz. This is paired with 2GB of RAM, and HP has preloaded this machine with Windows 8.1 (64-bit). Before we proceed to discuss the performance, it is important to talk a bit more about the processor. The N3510 is a Pentium chip from the Bay Trail family, offering significant improvement over the Atom line-up. It has a 22nm architecture, and the 7.5W TDP is perhaps the biggest indicator that this chip is meant for power efficiency, which should be helpful in improving battery life. The Intel HD graphics are based on the Intel HD 4000 (Ivy Bridge) series, but with lower clock speeds. Needless to say, gaming will not really be something this machine will be good at. But then again, it isn’t meant to be!
However, the PC Mark 8 score of 1645 is by no means a bad score and indicates that while this laptop isn’t the fastest around, it is no slouch either. In terms of what we have experienced in a real world usage, the performance is consistent. There is a bottleneck posed by just 2GB of RAM, but within that, you can still open multiple apps simultaneously before a slowdown is witnessed. For example, with 5 tabs open in Chrome, iTunes playing music in the background and a word document open, there was still enough headroom to open another app quite quickly. But open up more, and you really need to consider a RAM upgrade to at least 4GB.
Display & Keyboard
Two of the most critical elements, that make or break the experience of using a laptop are its display and keyboard. And that stands true for any laptop. From the outset, you are on solid ground, with the HP 15. The display is slightly reflective, but the good native brightness means that at 50% brightness (and upwards), the screen’s reflective tendencies are substantially masked. Text readability is excellent throughout, and the colors look much better than what most rivals’ have been able to come up with. We do wish to see similarly good panels in affordable laptops from other laptop makers as well.
The keyboard is pretty close to being perfect. Once you get used to the key size and spacing, typing quick is a breeze. The response is consistent, and the sharp feel of each key-press is very helpful while typing. Sometimes, the keyboard does feel a tad harsh on the fingers, but again, nothing significant that could break this deal.
In our very stressful battery tests, the HP 15’s battery lasted 4 hours and 20 minutes on a single charge. Considering the fact that you will not be stressing the laptop constantly to the level we did for the battery test, it would not be wrong to expect 6 hours of battery backup, under most usage cases. And this is pretty unheard of, in a price segment where laptops usually make do with battery guzzling old processors rejigged for the newer usage environments.
To buy or not to buy?
The HP 15 is a fairly competent laptop, at a very competitive price tag. Meant for someone who wants a machine for basic tasks, with a very good battery life. It is a good deal for travelers as well. The 15.6-inch screen is one of the best in the category. Featuring a very good keyboard and excellent build quality, the HP 15 surely that does not betray the affordable price tag - a good deal overall. Must consider, if you are on a strict budget for your next laptop purchase.