HP Pavilion DM1-4027ea review

HP Pavilion DM1-4027ea(HP)
The best of both worlds, combining netbook portability with real PC power.
What is it?
HP says it has "the power of a laptop and the size of a netbook".
What's great?
Good performance and battery life, and a compact design for less than £350.
What's not?
No built-in DVD drive, and the trackpad's a bit small.
Bottom line:
The best of both worlds, combining netbook portability with real PC power.
Review
Netbooks went from being the next big thing to yesterday's news in barely the blink of an eye. However, HP is attempting to breathe some life back into the category with the DM1, which combines the compact design of a netbook with the more powerful features of a proper laptop.
The black-and-silver design of the DM1 looks smart and measures just 3.2cm thick (1.25 inches) when folded flat, so it's really easy just to slip it into a backpack or briefcase when you're travelling.
It's a little heavier than we'd expected, weighing in at 1.6kg even though it has only an 11.6-inch screen and no DVD drive. Even so, it's still light enough to pick up with one hand and is quite sturdily built, so it'll cope with the occasional bump as you're dashing around town. The keyboard is quite comfortable to use, despite the compact design, although the trackpad and buttons are a bit small and fiddly.
The DM1 also has all the additional features that you'd expect from a proper laptop, including three USB ports, an HDMI interface for connecting it to your HD TV, and a VGA port for a computer monitor.
It has both wireless and wired (Ethernet) networking, a built-in webcam, memory card slot and headphone socket. But, as we've already mentioned, there's no built-in DVD drive, so if you want to play DVD films or install software off disk then you'll have to fork out some extra cash for a separate DVD drive.
However, the main features that set the DM1 apart from a conventional netbook are its processor and graphics chip. Most netbooks use Intel's Atom processor, which provides good battery life but lacks the power of a proper laptop PC. The DM1 ditches the Atom and is instead equipped with a dual-core AMD E-450 processor that runs at 1.65GHz. That's not terribly fast when compared to the 2GHz-plus processors in larger, more expensive laptops, but it's fine for routine tasks such as browsing the web, word-processing and email.
The DM1 also gets a bit of a boost from its AMD Radeon graphics chip, which handles video very well. It coped with the HD version of the Doctor Who Christmas Special streaming off the BBC iPlayer with no problems at all, and the 1366 x 768 screen resolution provided a bright, sharp image.
The small speakers aren't terribly loud, but the Dr Dre Beats Audio system provides good sound quality for music and video playback. Just don't expect to play the latest 3D games, as the DM1 doesn't quite have the raw horsepower for that.
Battery life is good too - we got four hours and forty minutes out of the DM1 when using its built-in wi-fi to stream full-screen video off the BBC iPlayer, and you could probably push that to six hours for lighter tasks.
It might not be powerful enough to replace a desktop PC, but the DM1 provides good multimedia features in a compact and affordable design, and is well suited to surfing the web while you hide from the winter winds in a nice, warm coffee shop.
Essential info
Price: £336 URL: HP Screen: 11.6-inch, 1366 x 768 resolution Processor: dual-core AMD E-450 at 1.65GHz Memory: 4GB Hard disk: 320GB Weight: 1.6kg
Also consider
Samsung Series 9 - even lighter at just 1.3kg, and with a 13.3-inch screen - but it's about three times the price. Dell Inspiron 14z - has a larger screen than the HP DM1, and a built-in DVD too - but its inch-thick design is still really portable.
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