HP announces two affordable thin-and-lights, including one with a touchscreen

Geez Louise, folks. HP's notebook lineup is starting to get confusing. So confusing, in fact, that we feel compelled to offer a little primer before we get to what it is the company announced today. Rewinding to sometime last year, the company came out with its first Ultrabooks. Then it unveiled so-called Sleekbooks, which basically hold the same promise as Ultrabooks, except that for whatever reason (AMD processors, a too-thick chassis) they don't meet Intel's official Ultrabook requirements. Still with us? Alrighty. Well, since then HP has released Sleekbooks under its mid-range Envy brand, and also its lower-cost Pavilion line. That's a lot of thin-and-light laptops that aren't technically Ultrabooks.

Anyway, flash back to the present and we've got two new Pavilion Sleekbooks, one of which has a touchscreen. They're officially called the Pavilion TouchSmart Sleekbook and the Pavilion Sleekbook and, well, you can guess which is which. Regardless of the model, some key features remain the same: both have 15.6-inch (1,366 x 768) displays, replaceable batteries and numpads, along with trackpads that support Windows 8 gestures (that's true of most new laptops, actually). Both make use of the company's CoolSense technology, which we can easily vouch for by now, having tested so many HP notebooks. As for design, these look more or less like the Pavilion Sleekbooks announced back in September, with three color choices and HP's Imprint finish, whose in-laid pattern does a good job hiding fingerprints.

It's in the spec department that these two laptops start to differ. Though both models will be offered with AMD Trinity processors only, the TouchSmart starts with an AMD A8 chip and 6GB of RAM, while the non-touch version starts with an A6 APU and four gigs of memory. The hard drive capacity varies, too: the non-touch one starts with 500GB of space, while the TouchSmart has 750GB. As you can imagine, the touchscreen version is thicker, but only slightly: it measures 23mm thick, versus 21mm. Look for the non-touch Sleekbook to go on sale this month, starting at $499. The TouchSmart will land in February, priced from $699. In the meantime, we've got hands-on shots of both waiting for you after the break.

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Edgar Alvarez contributed to this report.