Meet 'Sleekbooks': HP's cheaper and less powerful Ultrabooks

Shanghai, China — Intel and its PC partners have been busy flooding the market with "Ultrabooks" since last fall and now HP is bringing another contender into the ring: the Sleekbook. A what? HP is pioneering yet another category of mobile PCs. Here's what a Sleekbook is, plain and simple.

During a press session discussing the design and thought-process behind "thin and light" mobile computers, HP offered four key pillars for its vision of the Sleekbook:

1. Hard Drive Storage

First, storage on a Sleekbook will be hard drive-based. It feels like a backwards move when you think about how most PCs and Ultrabooks have migrated to quick loading solid state disks (although, there are PC makers who are blurring the line with hybrid HD/SSD Ultrabook options), but sure enough, HP still thinks traditional platter-based hard drives have a place in mobile computers.

For example, HP's new 14-inch ENVY Sleekbook comes with a 500GB mSATA hard drive and its 15.6-inch ENVY Sleekbook packs a 320GB hard drive.

2. Non-premium Materials

Second, Sleekbooks will be built from cheaper materials. HP believes Ultrabooks will continue to be constructed with a "premium" design — mainly out of metals — aluminum, magnesium, etc, but Sleekbooks will be made out of plastic and faux brushed metals. It's pretty obvious that the shortage of metals used to build Ultrabooks and MacBook Airs is squeezing HP thin, forcing it to reconsider chintzier materials. Blech.

3. Last-gen Intel Processors or AMD Processors

Third, HP's Sleekbook family will pack older processors than their Ultrabook cousins. Whereas all new Ultrabooks coming out of the pipe will pack third-gen Ivy Bridge processors, Sleekbooks will either have Sandybridge processors or AMD Trinity chip processors.

HP will ship the 14-inch ENVY Sleekbook with Intel processors starting from $700 and the 15.6-inch ENVY Sleekbook with AMD processors starting from $600. HP execs also threw around the idea of Pentium-branded processors making their way onto Sleekbooks.

4. Less Security Features, But Long Lasting Battery

Lastly, in terms of security, HP told a roomful of press that Sleekbooks will not come with the full suite of security features that Ultrabooks ship with. Is that really a feature? Say it ain't so!

Battery life for Sleekboks will be on par with today's best Ultrabooks. The machines should get about eight to nine hours on a full charge.

Stifled By A Trademark

By now, you're probably thinking, well, gee, these Sleekbooks sound a lot like slightly thicker Ultrabooks that start at $600. And you'd be right.

In a nutshell, Sleekbooks are Ultrabooks, with the exception that they can't be badged as such because some models don't come with Intel processors, but AMD ones instead. Sleekbooks are thicker, heavier and basically don't fit into Intel's definition of what an Ultrabook is.

To get around the legal issues, HP invented the Sleekbook. It's designed to make regular slim notebooks that don't have quite the svelteness of an Ultrabook appear more attractive.

Look ma! A new name for a fatter Ultrabook slimmer laptop notebook computer!

Is HP's marketing stunt deceptive? Confusing? A complete brainwashing for non-tech-savvy computer shoppers? You better believe it. Will we see other Ultrabook makers follow the route of the Sleekbook? You can count on it happening.

What HP's done right now is totally destroy the definition of a notebook/laptop for the sake of trying to revitalize declining PC sales and poor reception of the Ultrabook.

My point is, we need to cut all the Ultrabook/Sleekbook/Whateverbook naming shenanigans. Laptops are laptops. Notebooks are notebooks. It was only natural that laptops would become super thin wedge-shaped computers. PC makers need to stop coming up with silly names to call notebooks and laptops. Sure, "Sleekbooks" are going to be several hundred dollars cheaper than most Ultrabooks, but then doesn't it just come full circle and become a regular pre-Ultrabook laptop again? Ai yai yai!

All photos taken by Raymond Wong for DVICE. Posted on location at the Shanghai New International Expo Centre in China.

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