- Compact netbook alternative with good performance
- Nice keyboard and touchpad
- Reasonable gaming capabilities
- Good battery life
- Modest update to previous dm1
- No USB 3.0
- Beats Audio might not make much difference
The latest HP Pavilion dm1 (dm1z) makes a good choice for people looking for an affordable, compact laptop with good overall performance.
If you’re trying to find a travel laptop with decent multimedia performance and good battery life that won’t take up much room in a carry-on bag then the latest HP Pavilion dm1 (dm1z) might be just what you need.
Build and Design
The new HP Pavilion dm1-4010us ($480) is a simple and straightforward update to the dm1 series laptops from early 2011. You get an 11-inch netbook with a traditional rounded clamshell design. The biggest design change here is that the new generation of dm1z laptops feature mostly black plastics with silver accents rather than mostly silver with black accents.
Build quality is on par with other HP Pavilion notebooks and HP mini netbooks … meaning slightly above average for a budget laptop. 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 features a plain matte black paint job which keeps the outward appearance clean and professional. Opening up the screen, the silver-painted hinges have enough tension to hold the screen in place, but the plastics surrounding the hinges “float” around the actual metal hinges themselves. This was probably done so that the hinges won’t sustain a sharp impact if the laptop is dropped with the screen in the open position. However, the flexing plastics around the hinges don’t inspire the same confidence in build quality as the rest of the laptop.
The bottom of the notebook has a clean look with no screws in sight. If you want to upgrade the RAM, replace the hard drive or the wireless card, all you have to do is remove the battery and push the battery release switch all the way to the left as you pull forward on the bottom of the notebook. The entire bottom half of the laptop comes off and you have access to two RAM slots, the hard drive, the wireless card and even the fan and heatsink.
Ports and Features
Port selection on the new dm1-4010us is virtually identical to the older dm1z we reviewed in early 2011. HP gives you three USB 2.0 ports, HDMI-out, VGA, Gigabit LAN, a headphone jack and a microphone jack. It also features a SDHC-card slot for loading images off your camera while traveling or expanding your available storage. The only difference between this model and previous versions of the dm1 series is that the old dm1 models have a single headset jack that works for a headset, headphones or microphone and the Ethernet jack on earlier versions was covered by a rubber door. The dm1-4010us still lacks a Super Speed USB 3.0 port for fast data transfers. Most consumer notebooks now have at least one USB 3.0 port so there’s no excuse for the lack of one here.