Review: HP Pavilion dm1-1010ef

Our score: 4/5
Reviewed: December 29, 2009 11:00 PM
 
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Published: December 29, 2009 11:00 PM
By Fabien Pionneau

The Pavilion range is usually associated with notebooks. In spite of this and the dm1-1010ef's configuration, we've decided to put it in our netbook product survey. This low-budget model uses exactly the same chassis as the Compaq Mini 311c and usage also confirms placement as a luxury netbook. It is equipped with a dual-core processor, no less than 3 GB of RAM and works with Windows 7 Family Premium. In other words, it conserves a certain level of performance, is ultra mobile and yet remains very reasonably priced.

Handling, design and build

Line for line, the HP Pavilion dm1 resembles the Compaq Mini 311c that we tested a few weeks ago. Physically identical, both these machines are well finished, slim and nice to look at. There's still too much glossy plastic on the inside and outside, with plenty marks and prints showing up. Reflections are also omnipresent, especially as the panel is as glossy as the plastic on the machine. Thankfully, a nice grey silver covers the keyboard area, so you don't have to continually wipe off finger marks.

Compaq Mini 311c keyboard

The wide keyboard comes with wide keys (16 mm). Keying is agreeable, comfortable and quiet.

The touchpad is a really wide. Unfortunately glide and precision are not up to the mark - disappointing when you think of the potential of such a large area. You need to avoid moving your finger too much as, depending on the sensitivity chosen, you can find yourself sliding the cursor right across the screen without taking your finger off the touchpad. The same glossy plastic is used as on the lid. It's nice to the touch and would have been great with improved precision and fluidity.

HP Pavilion dm1 webcamThe webcam is mediocre. It lacks fluidity and sharpness. The contrast is also weak, as are the colours (lacking punch).

Like the Compaq Mini 311c, the HP Pavilion dm1 is rather noisy. The fan is on all the time, which indicates a design fault. The situation is worsened by the fact that the Celeron Dual Core consumes more energy than the Mini 311c's Atom (TDP of 10 Watts against 2.5). The frequent acceleration of the fan is, then, hardly surprising.

The connectors are ideally placed on the thickest parts of the netbook, closer to the screen than the front. Indeed, this machine is far thinner towrards the front.
On the left, there's an HDMI out and a USB 2.0 port as well as the power-supply socket and anti-theft. On the right, there's a 5-in1 memory card reader, 2 USB 2.0 ports, a headphones/mic combo, 1 RJ45 and 1 VGA.
There's also Bluetooth and Wi-Fi b/g.

Under the machine, a large panel gives access to the hard drive, a mini-PCI-e extension and an extra RAM slot. The 1 GB of RAM already inside are in fact soldered to the motherboard and you can add up to 2 GB of DDR3! Given the current price of memory, this is definitely worth considering for those who envisage installing Windows 7 and it's a good idea to go for it anyway to give a bit more oomph to the machine even if you stick with XP (supplied with it). We weren't able to test the performances of the different configurations unfortunately. However, it should make quite a difference, especially with certain video games.

HP Pavilion dm1 HP Pavilion dm1
Antitheft, power, USB 2.0 and HDMI

Memory card reader, headphones/microphone, 2 USB 2.0s, VGA, RJ45

HP Pavilion dm1 HP Pavilion dm1
Charger

Touchpad and clicks



Processor Power

Windows 7 index: 3,3. Details: CPU 3.8 - Memory 4.8 - Graphics 3.5 - Gaming graphics 3.3 - Main hard drive 5.5.

With a dual-core processor, we're entitled to expect better performance than for an Intel Atom netbook. While it consumes 4x as much energy, this increase is justified with a CPU index of 40 and an overall index of 56. Although this is around half of what is scored by our reference machine, the Fujitsu Siemens Amilo Xi3650 (equipped with an Intel Core 2 Duo T9400), it's also twice what you get on an average netbook!
The performance/energy consumption ratio is of course in favour of the Intel Atom, but it shouldn't be forgotten that the Celeron Dual Core SU2300 used on the dm1 remains much more at ease with multitasking.

You'll have no problem with office docs and the internet. A bit of photo and video work is also well within its capacities, as long as you're patient with the more demanding tasks (video encoding, photo work and so on).
While the Compaq Mini 311c uses an ION chipset, the dm1 settles for a built-in Intel graphics solution. It can decode HD 1080p video (Blu-Ray equivalent).

Gaming

In comparison to the laptops in our survey, a built-in graphics solution like the GMA 4500MHD that equips this model only merits a single star. Opposite our netbooks however, it scores 3. The difference between the two classes is becoming less and less visible and the dm1 is right on the border of the netbook and notebook worlds. We're soon going to reassess our product survey rating system to clarify this. What you need to remember is that built-in graphics solutions are absolutely not designed for gaming. In practice here, you're limited to older 3D games or 2D titles.

Audio

The sound comes out of the front of the machine. No surprises, the results are poor with a dry, disagreeable sound that lacks any bass. Maximum volume doesn't go too high thankfully. The headphones out is however good quality without any hiss.

Battery life and portability

In spite of having a processor that consumes a lot of energy, the HP Pavilion dm1 scores an excellent 4H58 when playing video (brightness at 100 Cd/m², Wi-Fi disactivated and headphones plugged in). It even outdoes the Compaq Mini 311c by 6 minutes. This can be explained by the presence of the ION chipset in the Compaq Mini 311c, which no doubt consumes more energy than the built-in Intel graphics solution.

With its battery, the HP Pavilion dm1 remains relatively light for its category and size is totally acceptable.
4/5 HP Pavilion dm1-1010ef DigitalVersus 2009-12-30 00:00:00

Pros

  • Battery life: 4H58
  • Dual core CPU
  • HDMI out and HD video
  • Slim, light and well-finished
  • Comfortable keyboard

Cons

  • Glossy poor quality screen
  • Too much gloss
  • Disappointing touchpad
  • Built-in graphics card not adapted to gaming

Conclusion

The HP Pavilion dm1 is built with the same chassis as the Compaq Mini 311c netbook. However it gives better performance, which makes it more responsive without losing out on battery life. The screen is still very average though and some of the choices in terms of build are rather doubtful (too much gloss and poor touchpad).

OUR SCORE 4/5
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