HP Pavilion dm1z 11.6″ Netbook w/ AMD E-350 Dual Core (1.6GHz)

Pros: Battery life, price, keyboard, performance for cost

Cons: Plastic glossy shell, touchpad, glossy screen

Overall: A great value for the price, the dm1z features the portability of a netbook with the power of a notebook thanks largely to AMD’s Fusion APU (combined processor and graphics on one chip). This hybrid platform allows for a great battery life, stutter-free HD video and light gaming; something that many netbooks have struggles with in the past. 1080p content through the HDMI cable was flawless. When introduced this year at CES 2011 the dm1z was priced at $450. Now you can pick one up for $369.99 after HP coupon code “FATWALLET30″ for $30 off and free shipping . The combination of excellent battery life, solid integrated graphics, and decent performance for under $400 is what sets the dm1z apart from the rest. Yes, a new 11” MacBook Air will totally outperform this netbook, but the dm1z has plenty of power for the average person for only 1/3 the price. I do suggest a clean install to remove the excessive bloatware to see improved boot times.

Design & Styling: Weighing just 3.5 pounds and measuring less than 12 inches long, it easily fits into a backpack or messenger bag. The dm1z is quite ergonomic despite its small footprint. The keyboard which spans almost the entire chassis from edge to edge is not the typical 95% version found on most netbooks, but rather a full size island-style keys with a nice stiff feel. I was quite surprised how quickly I was typing easily at full speed on this netbook. This is due in part to HP opting to move the up arrow key a bit to allow for the preferable full size shift key, as well as reversing the function keys allowing for one button adjustment of volume and brightness. It did take a bit for me to find the page up and page down buttons (Fn+up arrow & fn+down arrow). The black glossy lid features a grid pattern that does little to hide fingerprints, but the built-in Altec Lansing speakers enhanced with Dolby Advanced Audio were impressively with loud with clear crisp bass. The gigabit ethernet port is cleverly hidden on the right hand side with the VGA, mic input, USB, and media reader port. The reverse offers another USB port, HDMI and power port. It also comes loaded with bluetooth Altec Lansing speakers, built-in webcam, and an external CD/DVD drive for installing software, burning images, and watching movies. The trackpad is one of the few things that I disliked on this netbook due to the integrated mouse buttons. The integration of small ridges to help separate the two areas has helped slightly over previous HP trackpads, but I still found that the cursor would jump when I tried to click and scroll.

AMD E-350 Dual Core Processor (1.6GHz, 1MB L2 Cache)
11.6″ (1366 x 768) LED Backlit Display
Radeon HD 6310 Graphics with DirectX11 support
320GB 7,200RPM Hard Drive
6 Cell Lithium-Ion Battery (9.5 hour battery life)
Windows 7 Home Premium 64-Bit
3.52 Pounds

Windows Experience Index Score:
Processor: Calculations per second 3.8
Memory (RAM) : Memory operations per second 5.5
Graphics: Desktop performance for Windows Aero 4.2
Gaming Graphics: 3D business and gaming graphics performance 5.7
Primary hard disk: Disk data transfer rate 5.9
Overall score: 3.8

Tablets might be the big craze at the moment, but as long as there are ultraportables like this Fusion powered dm1z that perform like larger more expensive laptops, netbooks are not going anywhere. I use a desktop for my daily work and a midsize 15.6″ laptop for most everything else and I often find myself wishing for a larger screen. So when I received this 11.6″ Pavilion I figured I would not enjoy it, like many other netbooks I have tried in the past. After a few weeks of playing around with it, I was reluctant to give the test model back. I found that it especially shined when traveling or couch surfing where space is limited. The dm1z has HP’s Thermal Assistant software which automatically senses movement to switch into mobile or “lap mode” kicking the fans up a bit so it feels cool to the touch. It can also be set to run a bit warmer but much quieter when working from a table or desk for minimal distractions. Even after giving it a good workout, the dm1z never felt hot to the touch.