HP 15t Touch Review

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Editors' rating:
The Pros

Excellent keyboard; Stylish color options; Decent battery life; Touch screen for cheap

The Cons

Inconsistent touchpad; Tons of bloatware

Verdict

The HP 15t Touch sports an attractive design, snappy keyboard and solid battery life but comes with too much bloatware.

The HP 15t Touch is a notebook built to catch your eye, both with its colorful design as well as its inviting price tag. This entry-level laptop sports a 15.6-inch HD touch screen, a supersnappy keyboard and enough battery life to get you through your afternoon classes. However, less-than-stellar Core i3 performance and annoying bloatware hold this system back.

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Design

Credit: Jeremy LipsThe HP 15t Touch certainly knows how to grab your attention, but it loses some of its allure when you get up close. A cool blue coat of paint (which will run you $10 more than the black model) covers the notebook's lid and keyboard deck, the latter of which sports a subtle hash pattern and a touchpad unlike any other I've seen.

Credit: Jeremy LipsThe notebook's touchpad is borderless, with nothing but a small indent and its two click buttons to separate it from the rest of the plastic deck. While this creates a seamless and unique look, it isn't always intuitive (more on that later), and its glossy makeup is highly susceptible to fingerprints.  

The laptop's exterior is nicely textured, but feels cheap -- I was able to squish the lid downward just by pushing lightly on it. The 15t Touch's blue aesthetic is offset by some attractively rounded black edges, which host the machine's Ethernet port, HDMI port and USB inputs on the left, as well as an SD card, an optical drive and an additional USB port on the right.

The 15t isn't exactly a featherweight at 4.8 pounds, but I found it easier to carry than the 5.11-pound Dell Inspiron 15 5000 and 5.29-pound Toshiba Satellite C55Dt. The 15t's edges are 0.97 inches thin, which is just barely thicker than the Inspiron 15 (0.94 inches) and the Satellite (0.96 inches).

Display and Audio

The 15t's 15.6-inch, 1366 x 768 display isn't the brightest or sharpest in its price range, but it gets the job done for everyday entertainment.

The notebook did a fine job handling the Star Wars: The Force Awakens trailer -- while some extra-bright scenes looked blown out, many key details, such as Captain Phasma's shiny Stormtrooper armor and Finn's debris-covered face, were preserved well. 

Credit: Jeremy LipsIt's not the brightest entry-level notebook out there, though. The 15t registered 162 nits on our brightness test, which is just behind the Inspiron 15 (167 nits) and notably dimmer than the Toshiba Satellite (195 nits) as well as our 192-nit average for sub-$400 notebooks. HP's laptop produced 61.5 of the sRGB color gamut, which is a bit below our 64.2 budget average.

You might not need a touch screen on a nonconvertible laptop, but the 15t's works well. Pinching to zoom in and out of websites was a breeze, as was performing Windows touch functions such as swiping in apps from the left side of the screen. The screen did come in handy for playing touch-friendly games, such as Cut the Rope.

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My review system came with Windows 8.1, and after upgrading it to Windows 10, the touch screen no longer worked. HP says that this issue should have only affected a very small number of users who happened to update to Windows 10 during a small time period. Those who purchased the HP 15t with Windows 10 already installed, or are planning to upgrade to Windows 10, should not have this problem.

While not quite thunderous, the 15t's stereo speakers packed enough oomph to fill a small meeting room with music. When rocking a few tracks from The Gaslight Anthem, frontman Brian Fallon's signature gruff crooning came through clearly. I would have liked to hear the bass and rhythm guitars better, but I was able to enjoy the music nonetheless.

Keyboard, Touchpad and Webcam

As I mentioned, the 15t's chameleonlike touchpad is visually stunning, but not very practical. The touchpad is in a slight depression and has the same glossy makeup as the rest of the keyboard deck, both of which made it difficult to navigate precisely.

Pinching to zoom was harder than I expected, and I was unable to perform common Windows gestures such as swiping from the left to switch apps -- fortunately, the latter is no longer an issue with Windows 10. It didn't help that the two click buttons felt stiff and cheap.

Credit: Jeremy LipsFortunately, my frustration with the 15t's touchpad was offset a bit by its excellent keyboard. The notebook's black island keys are wonderfully snappy, and include a full number pad as well as handy function buttons for volume and brightness control. On the Key Hero typing test, I chopped away at a fast 85 words per minute with 96.6 percent accuracy (compared to about 80 wpm and 95 percent accuracy on my usual keyboard), and never felt a bit of discomfort.

It probably won't top your smartphone selfies, but the 15t's webcam takes perfectly serviceable photos. The snapshots I took were a little blurry and had a bit of an orange glow to them, but there was nothing that would make my Skype friends think I've turned into a pixelated monster.

Performance

Powered by a 1.7-GHz Intel Core i3-4005U with 4GB of RAM, the 15t offers decent performance -- as long as you don't put too heavy a load on it. I had no issues when surfing a few Web pages or working on a Google Doc, but when I loaded up a dozen Chrome tabs while simultaneously streaming video from Twitch and YouTube, I experienced occasional moments of lag.

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It's not that the 15t Touch can't multitask. It took the notebook 39 seconds to open a 69MB Word document while a 1080p video played in the background. That's faster than the Inspiron 15 5000 (41 seconds), the Satellite (48.1 seconds) and our 52-second budget average.

The system performed admirably on our spreadsheet test, which tasks a PC with matching 20,000 names to their addresses in OpenOffice. The 15t got the job done in 7 minutes and 59 seconds, beating out the Satellite (15:04) and our 9-minute average while falling a bit behind the Inspiron 15 (7:06).

Battery Life and Heat

It might not have an all-day battery, but HP's notebook gives you a respectable amount of juice for the price. The 15t endured 5 hours and 24 minutes on our battery test (Web surfing over Wi-Fi), outlasting the Inspiron (4:46), the Satellite (4:47) and our 5:10 average. However, the Asus X555LA lasted an even longer with 5:55.

It also stays cool enough for comfort. After 15 minutes of streaming HD video, the laptop's underside, touchpad and keyboard registered 85, 86 and 88 degrees, respectively, all of which are below our 95-degree comfort threshold.

Software

Sadly, the 15t's apps section is more crowded than a supermarket on Thanksgiving morning. The notebook's glut of bloatware includes roughly two-dozen throwaway games (my apologies to fans of Barn Yarn Collector's Edition), as well as the WildTangent client for finding more titles you probably don't need.

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There are a handful of CyberLink media apps for editing photos, videos and burning DVDs, as well as Snapfish, which lets you order prints of your digital photos. On the first-party front, you get HP Connected Drive for sharing content across your laptop and mobile devices, as well as Connected Music for playing local tunes and streaming live radio. However, with more widely used apps such as Google Drive, Dropbox and Spotify out there, HP's offerings don't seem all that useful.

You might find something useful out of the dozens of extra apps loaded onto the 15t, but I personally was overwhelmed with the amount of clutter.

Bottom Line

The HP 15t Touch offers an excellent keyboard, a responsive HD touch screen and dependable battery life for a budget price, but some flaws weigh it down. Its slippery touchpad may make you reach for a mouse, and its seemingly endless swath of bloatware makes it hard to figure out which of its preinstalled apps are actually useful.

Dell's Inspiron 15 5000 ($449) offers a sturdier design, better performance and more colorful display, albeit with less battery life. However, if you prefer a touch screen, the 15t Touch is a pretty good option.

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CPU 1.7-GHz Intel Core i3-4005U
Operating System Windows 10
RAM 4GB
RAM Upgradable to
Hard Drive Size 750GB
Hard Drive Speed 5,400rpm
Hard Drive Type
Secondary Hard Drive Size
Secondary Hard Drive Speed
Secondary Hard Drive Type
Display Size 15.6
Native Resolution 1366x768
Optical Drive DVD SuperMultiDrive
Optical Drive Speed
Graphics Card Intel HD Graphics 4400
Video Memory
Wi-Fi 802.11b/g/n
Wi-Fi Model
Bluetooth
Mobile Broadband
Touchpad Size
Ports (excluding USB) Ethernet
Ports (excluding USB) HDMI
Ports (excluding USB) USB 2.0
USB Ports
Card Slots 2-1 card reader
Warranty/Support
Size
Weight 4.8 pounds
Company Website www.hp.com
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2 comments
  • Helen M Corino Says:

    my HP 15_F387WM is awful- goes to 400+% magnification then zooms down to 30%. Then it moves around when typing, my typing can end up in another sentence or on another page. be turned offthe TOUCH (an example of what this machine does on its own)Sentence should read: might the 'touch' be turned off or maybe just replaced?

  • SIMONEGA Says:

    Review for HP Pavilion 15t Non- Touch Laptop 2016

    I researched for over a month and looked at hundreds of laptops to find the one that fit my needs and budget. It was very important for me to get the perfect computer because I spent about four years dealing with a horrible Toshiba satellite laptop and I did not want to relive that. I also did not have money to get another one if I got a used or refurbished laptop that did not have a warranty and did not work. I also did not have the time to wait to get another one. So after much searching and headache I decided to go with HP. I ordered my HP Pavilion 15t non touch laptop on Feb 22, 2016 and it was delivered on March 3, 2016, so the delivery time was ok but it did not ship in the standard 3-6 business days like it was stated. It was also stated that HP laptops are made in America, which is not true, they are made in China, which adds to delivery time. I customized my laptop with blizzard white, 8 Gb Memory, 15.6-inch diagonal Full HD WLED-backlit Display (1920x1080), 802.11b/g/n WLAN and Bluetooth(R) [1x1]. I wish the blizzard white looked more white rather than looking like a light silver/gray color. I love the design of the laptop, it is very smooth and sleek. The keyboard is perfect but the mouse does not click that great, HP should have made 2 separate bumps so it could be easier to distinguish the sections. I like the placement and look of the speakers and the sound is decent but its nothing special like was advertised. The camera is good. The DVD/CD drive has to be the cheapest I’ve ever seen! They really could have done better with that. The screen size is 13 ½ inches instead of 15.6”. It’s not that big of a deal for me but it’s false advertising. It could have been the advertised size if the black framing was cut back. The weight of the laptop is good. It does not feel cheap at all, it’s not too light and it’s not too heavy. Battery life is not good; it charges fast but I only get about 2 to 2 ½ hours unplugged. Most laptop batteries last a lot less then they advertise, which does not make it ok but it’s something I noticed. Lucky for me it’s not that big of a deal to be plugged in but if it was I would be very upset! HP’s customer service is a joke! I tried to use the online chat to ask a question and I never got anybody! When I called them I had to wait a very long time and when I finally did speak to somebody I had to deal with a guy with a thick Indian accent that I could barely understand and he did not know the answers to most of my questions! When he transferred me to another department (and had to wait long again) I was disconnected! HP needs to work on their customer service ASAP!!!! There are some other features that I have not checked out yet but so far so good. So would I recommend this laptop? Yes, I would! There are a few things I don’t like and some false advertising going on but besides that I am happy with my laptop! I love the color choices they have. It has almost everything I wanted for the best price compared to the rest! HP really needs to do a lot better with their customer service and stop false advertising but if this computer holds up they will have a long time customer. The HP Pavilion 15t non touch laptop gets 4 out of 5 stars from me!

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