Netbooks aren’t for everyone. The small screen size can be frustrating while the even smaller keyboard can drive you nuts, not to mention the lack of processing power. HP’s Pavilion dm1 sits comfortably in size between a notebook and netbook. Officially it’s a small-and-light notebook, which means not just a bigger keyboard and screen, but also better processing power than a netbook.
As a ultra-portable notebook the Pavilion dm1 is one of the smallest we’ve ever reviewed. Its small size is partly due to a lack of a DVD drive and the fact that it only carries an 11.6” screen (backlit via LED), falling inbetween the 10.1” found on the Asus EeePC Seashell
netbook, and the 13.3” found on the extremely smart Lenovo X301
thin-and-light. It weighs just under 1.5 kg, so you’re really not packing the farm when you carry this one around. Apart from its small size, the biggest benefit of the dm1 is an above average battery life. HP reckons you'll get 10 hours, but we clocked in the region of five to seven hours with average usage.
Keyboard and trackpad
The difference in size between the dm1 and a netbook becomes more apparent when it comes to keyboard size. The dm1 basically affords you a decent sized keyboard (92% full size), which is very easy to work on, except maybe for the F keys that are a tad small and a very tiny delete key. While the keyboard itself is metallic grey, secondary functions on the F keys, such as brightness and volume, are only printed in a slight darker shade, making the correct key extremely difficult to find if you want to, for example, adjust sound while playing music.
The trackpad is only so-so, since it’s extremely smooth, very sensitive and also not that big. It's situated almost directly below the space bar, so a lazy thumb accidentally hitting the trackpad will see you typing in the wrong place. It also doesn't allow for the multi-touch gestures that we're seeing on recent notebooks. Although not much of a hindrance, the palm rests next to the trackpad heats up when the netbook is plugged in.
The Pavilion dm1 we received for review runs on an Intel U4100 processor at 1.30 GHz, which isn’t the fastest processor we’ve come across, but gives far better performance than the Atom processors usually found in netbooks. HP adds a very generous 3GB of RAM, with the benefit to this being that you’re able to multitask without having to worry about programs hanging or too much reduction in processing speed. A nice 250 GB hard disk completes the configuration on the model that was sent to us.
As far as ports are concerned the HP provides amply, since on the side you’ll find three USB ports, your VGA port, a 5-in-1 memory card reader and as a extra bonus a HDMI port to connect your PC up to HD displays. Just like most netbooks though, you won’t find a DVD drive- a small sacrifice we think for the size of this device. Sitting at the front of the device just below the trackpad is the dm1's Altec Lansing speakers, offering very decent sound for movies and music, adding to the dm1's multimedia appeal.
If you can't quite live with a netbook due to a small keyboard and restrictive processing power, but still want something extremely portable, the HP Pavilion dm1 needs some serious looking into. With a close to full size keyboard, an HDMI connection, good sound and a lovely battery life, HP's dm1 packs a very portable punch. Its lack of DVD drive is a small sacrifice we think for its ultra-portability. HP couldn't provide us with a retail price for this model since it will only arrive in SA beginning of May.