Screen and Speakers
The 11.6-inch LED-backlit screen on the HP Pavilion dm1z is like most glossy screens we’ve seen on 11-inch notebooks and netbook alternatives. The 1366 x 768 resolution is fine for browsing the web, editing photos, or even watching 720p HD movies. Color and contrast are average thanks to the glossy surface and LED backlighting. We recorded a real-world contrast ratio of 216:1 in our lab and a maximum screen brightness of 226 nits; bright enough for indoor use under almost any artificial lights and bright enough for outdoor use (as long as the unfiltered sun isn’t shining directly on your screen and creating reflections). If you tilt the screen forward or back, the colors start to look dim or very washed out. Horizontal viewing angles were better; staying visible until roughly 60 degrees.
The onboard speakers are located on the front edge of the notebook and push sound forward toward the user (and down toward your lap). These speakers carry the Beats Audio logo. The dm1 also features Beats Audio signal processing software for “high-quality entertainment on the go” according to the HP marketing materials. Overall the sound quality is good for a pair of small stereo speakers, but we said the same thing about the Altec-Lansing branded speakers on the old dm1z.
HP officially says “Beats Audio offers users playing music or audio through headphones or external speakers the optimal sound experience – the way the artist intended it.” However, none of our editor were able to tell the difference between audio played from the headphone jack on the dm1-4010us and the audio coming from the headphone jack on a Toshiba laptop. The Beats Audio output was clear and free of any obvious distortion but the sound quality didn’t blow away our editors.
Keyboard and Touchpad
The Chiclet-style keyboard on the Pavilion dm1 is nearly full-size and identical to the keyboard on the previous model except for the all-black color. Typing is comfortable with each key delivering the perfect amount of feedback with quiet, cushioned clicks. There is plenty of space between each key to help prevent excessive typos. The keyboard support structure is quite good with no noticeable flex or “bounce” from the pressure of your fingertips. The keys themselves have a soft matte finish on top which helps increase fingertip traction but might be prone to collecting skin oils over time.
The touchpad on the new dm1z is a Synaptics model that sits flush with the palm rests. The touchpad delivers adequate sensitivity at the default settings with minimal lag. One particularly nice improvement with the new dm1 is the use of separate touchpad buttons rather than integrated buttons that are part of the touchpad surface. These traditional touchpad buttons give the dm1-4010us a much better touchpad experience than the old dm1z.