If you're looking for a straightforward laptop on a tight budget, the Pavilion 15 does more than its pricing might suggest. You won't be playing the latest games on it, and anything that is too processor-intensive is going to take a while, but it's not a bad little machine at all.
Brilliant battery life
Large hard drive
Rattling optical drive
Poor core performance
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- Update: For the 2015 HP Pavilion, click here.
The management behind HP may have hit the headlines a few times in the last few years, but the fact that it is releasing budget laptops once again, under recognisable names, does go some way to showing that it means business once again. Business in an area that it understands and that end users can potentially benefit from.
The HP Pavilion 15 is a straight up proposition - it's a budget machine designed for everyday computing - that most straightforward of offerings. There is a little bit of a problem here though, as the market for such generic machines is awash with everything from tablets (of all guises) through to Chromebooks and netbooks (which are set to make a comeback), with a big healthy chunk of budget laptops, just like this, jostling for position as well.
The benefits that the likes of the HP Pavilion 15 and the likes of the recently reviewed Lenovo G505 offer over the alternatives is the fact that they run Windows 8 and therefore you can use all the applications that you are used to. And unlike something like HP's own Pavilion 14 Chromebook or any of the Windows RT tablets, you're not limited to a tiny subset of apps either, here you can run everything from MS Office through to Photoshop and other high-end tools.
This is budget orientated laptop from the ground up though, and as such sacrifices have had to be made. It certainly isn't a single machine that will answer every single one of your computer needs. Even so, if you're looking for a general machine for the home, then there's nothing wrong with such a goal in the first place.
Before we get on to the details of the specification, it's worth working out what you need from a general purpose machine like this in the first. What do you need more than anything else? Do you want to be able to play games? To take the machine with you on a commute? Playback HD video? Render movies or 3D scenes? Edit your photographs? Simply surf a bit? Work out what is most important and then you'll be able to see whether a budget system has what you need.