- Great build quality
- Very good thermal performance
- Excellent keyboard
- Touchpad design could have been better
- Some possible driver-related glitches
The HP Pavilion dm3t offers plenty of options no matter if you want a basic configuration or a model with a fast processor and dedicated graphics.
The Pavilion dm3 is a CULV thin and light notebook series from HP that includes both the AMD-based dm3z and Intel-based dm3t. This notebook packs a 13.3-inch screen, optional integrated WWAN, an optional matching external optical drive, and a wide range of processor options. In this review, we take a look at the Pavilion dm3t powered by an Intel SU7300 CULV processor, and includes 3GB of DDR3 memory and Intel X4500 integrated graphics.
Our HP Pavilion dm3t Specifications:
- Intel Core 2 Duo CULV SU7300 (1.3GHz, 800MHz, 3MB)
- Windows 7 Premium (64-bit)
- 3GB Shared Dual Channel DDR3 at 1066MHz
- 320GB 5400rpm Seagate 5400.6 HDD
- Intel Graphics Media Accelerator X4500HD
- 13.3-inch LED-backlit WXGA Display
- External 8x CD/DVD burner (DVD/-RW/R) with Dual-Layer
- Atheros AR5009 802.11a/g/n Wi-Fi , Bluetooth
- 6-cell Lithium-ion battery (57 WHr)
- Dimensions: 12.83 x 9.06 x 0.96 inches
- Weight: 4.17 pounds
- Price as configured: $939 (With 7200RPM drive instead of 5400RPM)
Build and Design
The HP Pavilion dm3t offers an attractive and durable brushed metal finish on its screen cover that resists smudges and scratches. The perimeter-trim is chromed plastic to accent the gunmetal-gray brushed finish that extends inside the notebook for the palmrest and keyboard surround. The screen trim is a glossy black, which blends in with the LCD when the screen is off. The bottom of the notebook is painted with a matte-black finish.
Build quality is above average with the brushed metal finish helping to give some strength to the top of the notebook. The screen only has some flex under moderate pressure and the cover protects the LCD from most impacts. The quality of the materials used is above average on most areas of the notebook; although the chromed plastic might be at risk to chipping over time if you are not careful with transporting it. The one area that stood out to us as needing improvement is the touchpad finish, which out of the box had some mild scuffing. HP uses a polished-matte finish that doesn’t seem to hold up to mild abrasion as nicely as their older painted glossy touchpads. The bottom cover was a big surprise, since unlike other consumer notebooks that only use plastic bottom covers, HP goes all out with a durable alloy body that adds a nice look and feel when holding the notebook.
Users looking to upgrade their dm3-series notebook will find it easy to access user-serviceable components. The bottom has three compartments, one of which is the battery. The two that contain serviceable parts are clearly labeled with symbols showing what parts are underneath. One bay houses the hard drive and WWAN-slot while the other has the system memory and Wi-Fi card. Our model, which didn’t include WWAN, still came with the slot soldered in place. No antennas were visible, but at least an upgrade would be possible down the road.
Screen and Speakers
The screen on the dm3-series is a 13.3-inch LED-backlit panel with above average color and contrast. Colors from the screen are bright and vibrant with a cooler or blue hue. Screen brightness is more the adequate for brightly lit rooms with a peak brightness measured at 212nit. We found screen brightness set at 70% was perfect for viewing indoors. Outdoor viewing with the glossy panel would only be possible in a shaded area away from sun glare. Viewing angles were average with colors starting to invert or wash out when the screen is tilted 15-20 degrees forward or back. Horizontal viewing angles were better with the screen staying visible to about 60-degrees off center where it started to dim noticeably.
The speakers on the dm3-series are lap-firing, located near the front edge of the palmrest. Sound quality is above average for a notebook this size with clear upper-midrange and high notes. Low frequency audio is still lacking, but it is hard to get this from even larger notebooks unless you have a dedicated subwoofer.
Keyboard and Touchpad
The keyboard is an island-style variant that is very similar to the look and feel of most Apple MacBooks. The keys are painted with a semi-gloss black paint and feel very solid to the fingertips. The lettering is very bright and visible even in dark lighting. Key movement is precise with little wobble with side to side movement. Individual key presses are smooth and require very little pressure to fully trigger. If you like the look and feel of the Chiclet-style keyboards, you will be impressed with the Pavilion dm3t.
The touchpad is a glossy ALPS model with some support for multitouch gestures. The touchpad on average is responsive with very little lag. On a rare occasion the touchpad did become entirely unresponsive and required a reboot before it started to work again. It is unclear if this was a driver conflict or a problem with the touchpad itself. The touchpad buttons are easy to press with the side of your thumb and give off a small click when pressed. They have shallow feedback and require moderate pressure to activate.
Ports and Features
Port selection on the Pavilion dm3t was great with HP making use of nearly all usable space around the perimeter of the notebook. The system featured four USB 2.0 ports, HDMI and VGA-out, LAN, audio jacks and a Kensington lock slot. Other features included a SDHC-card slot and wireless-on/off switch. One unique item on the dm3-series that caused a bit of confusion when it was first taken out of the box was the power button’s location. It is located on the right side next to the wireless-on/off button as a small slider-switch.