Saturday, June 18, 2011

HP Pavilion dm1z

The new HP Pavilion dm1 (also called the Pavilion dm1z) is an 11-inch notebook that uses the latest AMD Fusion technology to combine a fast dual-core processor and powerful graphics inside a budget-priced netbook alternative. Is this the best new notebook for 2011? Keep reading to find out.

Our HP Pavilion dm1 (dm1z) features the following specifications:

* AMD E-350 with AMD Radeon HD 6310 Graphics (dual-core CPU at 1.6 GHz and dual DX-11 SIMDs at 500 MHz)
* 11.6-inch 1366 x 768 HD glossy display with LED backlighting
* Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit)
* 3 GB DDR3 memory
* 320 GB, 7200 rpm HDD (Hitachi Travelstar 7K500)
* Gigabit Ethernet and 802.11b/g/n wireless
* Bluetooth 3.0 (Ralink Motorola BC8)
* 6-cell Li-ion battery (51Wh)
* Dimensions: 11.45 (L) x 8.45 (W) x 0.9 - 1.25 (H) inches
* Weight: 3.53 pounds
* MSRP: $449.99

Build and Design
The new HP Pavilion dm1 is an evolutionary update to last year's Pavilion dm1z and the dv2 from 2009. Stylistically, the dm1 has more in common with the dm3. In fact, if you place the new dm1 side by side with last year's dm3, you'll see that this 11-inch notebook is basically a smaller version of the dm3. At first glance it's easy to mistake the dm1z for one of the dozens of HP netbooks that have shown up over the last few years. Fortunately, the Pavilion dm1 has a lot more to offer than those low-performance netbooks.

Build quality is on par with what we've seen from the rest of the HP Pavilion Ultraportable notebooks and HP mini netbooks. The plastics used in the chassis are durable and thick enough to prevent flex or cracking under pressure. The plastic screen lid provides adequate protection for the screen but the middle of the lid does bend inward under firm pressure (be careful jamming this into overhead compartments on your next flight). The lid also features an attractive matte black paint job with black pinstriping done in glossy paint. This makes fingerprint smudges far less visible than what we see on laptop lids with glossy paint jobs. Opening up the screen, the hinges have enough tension to hold the screen in place when it's motionless but not enough tension to hold the screen in place when you're carrying it around. The rest of the body of the notebook seems to be well designed with minimal chassis flex and no obvious creaks from the plastics.

One area of the design that will probably get a mixed reception is the bottom of the notebook. HP decided to give the new dm1 a clean look with a single massive bottom plate secured by screws that are hidden beneath the foot pads. At first glance there is no expansion bay access panel here and no way to quickly upgrade the RAM or replace the hard drive. Granted, the overwhelming majority of people who buy a $450 laptop will never open it up to make upgrades. However, if you remove the battery, slide the battery release switch again and pull forward on the bottom plate, the entire bottom of the notebook will slide forward giving you access to the RAM, hard drive and wireless cards. I just wish this was a little more obvious for owners who want to upgrade the notebook themselves.
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