HP's 11.6-inch Pavilion dm1 isn't a netbook, which is great; but it isn't an ultrabook either.
The AMD-powered laptop is an exercise in "just enough", offering a quite decent experience. It's not really a production machine — you don't want to be doing any heavy graphics, audio or video work on it — but by and large it's perfectly fine for web browsing and consumption tasks. Even 1080p Flash video works fine in YouTube, so long as you play it full screen.
The keyboard and touch pad show that HP mastered the small form factor a long time ago, thanks to its professional netbook experience. The 1366x768 screen isn't great though; a washed out affair with limited vertical viewing angles. HP has also managed to cram in Beats Audio into yet another of its devices, but don't expect miracles — rather just passable sound for the size of the laptop.
It's fully featured, though; three USB 2.0 ports, HDMI and VGA out, an SD card reader, headphone and microphone jacks, gigabit Ethernet, Bluetooth 4.0 and 802.11n meaning you should stay well connected.
Our review unit (the 4108AU) came with an AMD E-450 1.65GHz CPU paired with a Radeon HD 6320. It easily trounces any netbook, but is by no measures a gaming machine. While it ran our gaming benchmarks, the scores were low enough to be discarded.
It also featured a 320GB hard drive and 2GB RAM. HP makes another version of the dm1, sub-model 4100, which includes a 500GB hard drive and 4GB RAM; however, at the time of writing, it seems to only be listed on its own website, rather than being sold anywhere.
The end user can upgrade their own RAM as a spare slot is free; however, getting the base off is a pain, requiring finger nails to pull the bottom panel down and away from the battery — there's no easy access slot.
Handbrake encoding test (in seconds)
Apple MacBook Air 11 (Core i5 2467M @ 1.6GHz, 4GB RAM)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
To get a handle on performance, we've included both a netbook and ultrabooks in our comparison. The Gigabyte S1080, despite being a tablet is a netbook analog, featuring an Atom processor. The MacBook Air 11 and ZenBook UX21, meanwhile, are indicative of what performance an ultrabook can gain you. For the most part, ponying up the extra cash for an ultrabook is highly worth it if you intend to do more than just word processing, web browsing and video watching on your machine.
Battery life (time)
- Heavy battery test
- Light battery test
- 5h 57m
- HP Pavilion dm1 (E-450 @ 1.6GHz, 2GB RAM)
- 3h 21m
- Asus ZenBook UX21 (Core i7 2677 @ 1.8GHz, 4GB RAM)
- 3h 19m
- Gigabyte S1080 (Atom N750 @ 1.66GHz, 2GB RAM)
- 3h 2m
- Apple MacBook Air 11 (Core i5 2467M @ 1.6GHz, 4GB RAM)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
The dm1 at least does well on battery, approaching the same sort of battery life you'd expect from a 13-inch ultrabook.
The dm1 is attempting to occupy a price point, and hold on to it to the best of its ability. If you don't want the bulk of a 15.6-inch budget machine yet can't afford an ultrabook, don't stoop down to the netbook level: get this instead.