HP Pavilion dm1z Review

The Pavilion dm1z is the latest 11.1-inch screen portable notebook from HP.  The dm1z can serve well as a campus solution laptop as it’s easy to carry around, weighing a mere 3.2lbs, and the battery life clocks in at over 5 hours.  The dm1z is powered by a choice of either single core or dual core AMD Neo processors and comes with a base configuration of 2GB of RAM, 250GB hard drive, 802.11n wi-fi, built-in web cam and an HDMI port for video output to an LCD TV or monitor.

HP dm1z laptop

This review covers the following dm1z configuration:

  • Processor: AMD Athlon II Neo Dual-Core Processor K325 (1.3GHz)
  • Graphics: ATI Mobility Radeon HD 4225 Graphics
  • Screen: 11.6″ diagonal HD LED BrightView Widescreen Display (1366 x 768)
  • OS: Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
  • Memory: 2GB DDR3 System Memory (1 Dimm)
  • Storage: 320GB 7200RPM SATA Hard Drive with HP ProtectSmart Hard Drive Protection
  • Wireless: Wireless-N Card
  • Ports: 3 USB 2.0 ports, 1 HDMI port, 1 monitor out VGA port, 5-in-1 media card reader, dual microphone/headphone port, Ethernet LAN port
  • Features: Webcam with Integrated Digital Microphone
  • Battery: 6 Cell Lithium Ion Battery (quoted 5.25 hours battery life)
  • Weight: 3.3lbs
  • Dimensions: 11.4 in (length) x 8.03 in (width) x 0.78-1.20 in (height)

I opted for AMD K325 dual core processor over the single core K125 processor as it was only a $25 upgrade.  There is  also a faster 1.5GHz K625 1.5GHz option available.  HP offers the ability to upgrade to 5GB of RAM online, but it’s a $75 increase and can be done cheaper if you buy memory separately and just install it yourself.  When configuring the dm1z I was especially impressed by the fact that the hard drive was 7200RPM standard across all the storage capacities (7200RPM is the fastest spinning hard drive available for notebooks).  If you really crave fast storage a 128GB SSD is also available, though the $315 upgrade cost is fairly ridiculous given the price of this laptop.

Design

The HP dm1z is attractively designed.  It features what HP calls champagne colored lid, though to me it looks more silver in most types of light.  There is a subtle woven pattern within this champagne area on the lid and around the keyboard that’s much more appealing than just the plain glossy finish many other laptops have.

The screen has a black glossy border around it, this tends to pick up fingerprints when you open and close the lid which is somewhat annoying.  Frankly it seems like the size of the laptop could have been smaller because the keys do not go all the way to the edges and there’s quite a bit of space around the screen.  However, that’s a common complaint with these 11.6” laptops so not just a singularity with the HP dm1z.  Overall the dm1z is pretty enough to please most people and certainly not ugly enough to offend any buyer.

hp dm1z lid HP dm1z power button

Performance

The HP dm1z isn’t meant to be a laptop used for 3D gaming, if you want something like that in an 11.6” sized laptop you can look at the Alienware m11x.  Rather, the dm1z is a laptop suited for students that need to do general school work such as type papers, surf and do research on the web, send email and of course watch HD video and play a few simple games during down time!  Configured with the 1.3GHz AMD K325 that this review unit has all of that is easy to do.

HP dm1z AMD stickers

Below is a table of comparison benchmarks to other laptops I have also reviewed on this site:

HP Pavilion dm1z (AMD K325 1.3GHz, 2GB RAM, ATI HD 4225 graphics) Dell Inspiron 14R (Intel Core i3 2.26GHz, 4GB RAM, Intel Graphics) Dell Vostro 3500 (Intel Core i3 2.26GHz, 3GB RAM, Intel Graphics) Sony VAIO CW (Intel Core i3 2.13GHz, 4GB RAM, Nvidia 310m graphics) Lenovo G450 (Intel Pentium Dual Core 2.1GHz, 3GB, Intel Graphics) Dell Inspiron 14 (Intel Pentium Dual Core 2.0GHz, 3GB RAM, Intel graphics)
PCMark Vantage 2,183 4,198 4,300 4,792 3,243 2,437
3DMark 06 1,191 1,726 1,307 3,636 783 751
Windows Experience Index 3.2 4.2 4.2 4.9 3.3 3.2

For those of you that are trying to decide which processor to get out of the three options available, here is a list of the Passmark CPU scores so you can get an idea of the kind of performance boost each gives, also embedded are some Intel processor scores for those more familiar with the Intel processor range:

Processor Comparison Passmark CPU mark (higher scores are better)

Processor Passmark CPU Score
Intel Core2 Duo P7500 @ 1.60GHz 998
AMD Turion II Neo K625 Dual-Core 1.5GHz 942
Intel Core 2 Duo T5300 892
AMD Athlon II Neo K325 Dual-Core 1.3GHz 766
Intel Pentium Dual T2310 @ 1.46GHz 760
AMD Athlon II Neo K125 Single-Core 1.7GHz 474

Obviously the K625 will offer the best overall system performance, but you’ll have to decide if it’s worth the $75 upgrade.  For most people doing basic tasks you’ll be absolutely fine with the K125 as it will play HD video just fine and that’s the most demanding thing many users do on a laptop.  If you’re a huge multitasker then it may be a good idea to go with the K325 or K625 so that there is more CPU available to quickly switch between tasks and have enough power to run all background tasks in a timely manner.  My personal opinion is that the K325 offers the best value as it’s clearly a better performer than the K125 and only costs $25 more.

Screen

The 11.6” screen on the dm11z has a 1366 x 768 resolution which is suited well for displaying 720p quality HD video.  You’ll only be able to fit one window on the screen at a time, so if you’re a fan of putting two browser windows next to each other open at the same then you’ll be disappointed, the small display and low resolution just don’t lend themselves to such a thing.  The good news is that the VGA out and HDMI out make it easy to connect to an external monitor when you’re at your desk.

dm1z screen Pavilion dm1z screen

For those curious as to how much you can fit on a browser window when it’s fully open with the 1366 x 768 resolution on an 11.6” screen here is a screenshot from the homepage of the New York Times below when it’s open in a Google Chrome browser with the window full:

NYtimes.com on HP dm1z

Most websites easily fit width wise, but you have to do a lot of scrolling to see content lower on the page.

The screen brightness on the dm1z is good, at the top setting it’s not super bright but certainly adequate.  So while you won’t be able to use the dm1z screen for viewing outside, in any type of indoor environment the screen will be plenty bright for comfortable viewing.  The viewing angles for the dm1z are typical of most laptops, you can view from the side up to 30 degrees away without much color distortion but vertical viewing angles are not so great and it’s best to look at the screen straight on to get the truest colors.

Keyboard and Touchpad

The keyboard on the HP dm1z is 92% of a full-size keyboard, so although not quite full size it’s still comfortable to type on for all but the biggest bear paw hands out there.  The keys are silver colored and blend in with the rest of the laptop look.  The key surface is slightly glossy and somewhat slick, but the keys are slightly curved to present any slipping of the fingers across keys.  There is no flex in the keyboard and the feel is very firm, so no need to worry about a mushy keyboard slowing you down.

dm1z keyboard HP dm1z touchpad mouse buttons

The touchpad is a good size and is easy to use, offering multi touch gestures to those that are power users and of course scroll zones for scrolling pages up/down or left/right.  The mouse buttons are however a different story, they are hard to press, make a very loud and annoying click and the feel is just awful.  The mouse buttons are possibly some of the worst I’ve experienced on a laptop so I have to recommend getting a travel mouse for use at a desk.  It’s a shame HP messed up something that is seemingly easy to implement, the poor mouse button usability really detracts from an otherwise great input experience.

Input and Output Ports

The HP dm1z offers an ample amount of ports for this size laptop.  Below is a picture run down of what port you get on each side of the laptop:

Left side – power jack, USB 2.0 port, HDMI port

HP dm1z left side

Right side – 5-in-1 media card reader, microphone/headphone jack, two USB 2.0 ports, VGA monitor out port, Ethernet LAN port

HP dm1z right side

Back – no ports here, just the battery and hinge

HP dm1z battery

Front – again, no ports, the Altec Lansing speakers are on the front side

HP dm1z speakers

Having both an HDMI port and monitor out port for an 11.6” screen notebook is rare, so it’s certainly nice to have that.  Three USB ports is a generous amount for this size too and certainly nice to have.  There are no complaints whatsoever with the port selection, some might wish there were an ExpressCard slot for expansion but that’s a true rarity on consumer laptops today.

HP dm1z Battery Life

The most important issue for many buyers will be what kind of battery life does the dm1z get?  After all, if you’re using this for on campus work where you won’t often be near an electrical outlet you’ll be completely reliant on the battery lasting in order to get work done.  HP quotes battery life at 5.25 hours as a maximum but I was actually able to get 6 hours and 10 minutes with screen brightness at 40%, Wi-Fi on and the system idling.  Granted, that’s not a very realistic usage scenario but does give an idea of what you can squeeze out.  Under more realistic usage with screen at half brightness, surfing the web, typing a paper and watching some streaming video I got around 4 hours of battery life.  Overall, that’s not bad but is not as good as some of the low voltage Intel equipped 11” laptops I’ve used in the past such as the Acer Aspire 1410.

Speakers and Audio

The dm1z comes equipped with a pair of Altec Lansing branded speakers located at the front of the laptop.  The volume level is very good for such a small laptop and clarity was decent.  As you’d expect the bass was lacking, but this is the case with all laptops unless they have a subwoofer built-in, and that is only found in high-end desktop style laptops.  The headphone jack is located on the right side and easy to access for those that prefer to use a high quality pair of headphones for superior audio.

Heat

If you’re using the dm1z in your lap a lot the good news is that excessive heat will not be an issue so long as you’re not doing extremely demanding tasks for extended periods of time such as running 1080p video, running benchmarks or gaming.  After a while a bit of heat did start to build up on the left palm rest of this laptop but nothing bad.  I was very pleased with the low amount of heat buildup relative to other AMD powered laptops I’ve used in the past.

Conclusion

The HP dm1z is certainly a strong competitor in the 11.6” screen size ultraportable market.  The starting price of $427.99 with the HP student discount is very reasonable and the base configuration will likely be enough power for most users.  Things I particularly like are the attractive design, light weight, and good port selection and features. Some things that could be improved include the horribly clicky mouse buttons, battery life is decent but still behind the incredible 8-hour battery life some Intel laptops can get and there were a bit too much bloatware installed out of the box for my liking.  Overall though if the feature set of dm1z fits your usage needs I can certainly endorse it as a good laptop to get in this class and I don’t think many will be disappointed.

Here are links to the latest HP Laptop Deals!



Filed Under: Feature Articles, Student Laptop Reviews

About AJ

I'm a big believer in the importance of technology usage in education, but not just having blind faith in technology gadgets and using them in a school setting for the sake of it. I review and write about technology devices such as laptops and tablets that have a clear purpose and provide a learning advantage for students.

5 Responses to HP Pavilion dm1z Review

  1. Yatri Trivedi October 22, 2010 at 3:02 pm #

    Thanks for the real world battery estimates! I think this may be the next netbook I pick up!

  2. FIU student November 30, 2010 at 12:20 am #

    Thank you for the great review, it was very helpful in my decision on purchasing this laptop. I upgraded to the K325 so the total was $480 dollars. I ordered it online and am very eager to start using this laptop.

  3. MH December 17, 2010 at 9:56 am #

    I hate the champagne color and therefore didn’t buy it. Is it going to come out in any other color in the near future?

    Does the 6-cell battery stick out in the back like some other netbooks do?

  4. AJ December 17, 2010 at 10:47 am #

    I don’t know of any other color availabilities coming up for the dm1z, the champagne color is pretty subtle so I wouldn’t be to deterred by that — it looks silverish in dimmer lighting.

  5. mir January 9, 2011 at 8:04 pm #

    Very nice and informative review.

Leave a Reply