The Long Haul
Given the small size of the HP dm1z, it’s not surprising that it slips easily into almost any backpack or messenger bag you could imagine. Only those silly netbook bags, which were often built only for 10.1” devices, might not have enough space.
Though I found that the laptop felt chunkier in-hand than its .8” thickness suggests, backpacks aren’t as prone to being fooled by subjective impressions. Weight is only average at 3.52 pounds, but you’ll usually have to go with an even smaller laptop if you want less heft. Even then you’ll save only a half-pound. You’ll never notice that difference without a scale.
HP ships the dm1z’s stock configuration with a 6-cell battery, which is a good amount of juice for a small computer such as this. As a result of the battery’s size, and the low-power AMD Fusion APU, the laptop stood up to the Battery Eater test for three hours and thirty-four minutes, which was extended to an impressive eight hours and twenty-eight minutes by the much less intense Battery Eater Reader’s Test. These results are among the best Digital Trends has ever measured.
Pre-installed software on the HP dm1z is the usual shtick. Norton antivirus was quick to encourage me to install the software so that the computer would not be immediately hacked by Russians, and provided a reminder every time I used the computer. Though annoying, most laptops ship with some scare-mongering antivirus or another, so it’s not as if going elsewhere will save you from this plight.
Otherwise, there’s not much to report besides the typical bundled offers that most people won’t use. HP is currently offering a free 1-year subscription to LoJack for laptops, which might be handy for business travelers – thought I suspect they would not be using this product as their primary travel companion.
Netbook Performance Outside of Games
As mentioned earlier, our review unit came with AMD’s E-450 processor. A minor update to the proceeding E-350, it is a dual-core part with a clock speed of 1.65 GHz, a mere 50 MHz increase. More relevant is the Radeon IGP built in to the processor, which is now clocked at 600 MHz rather than 492 MHz. The processor was backed up by 4GB of RAM, so there was plenty of memory available.
While any increase in clock speed is appreciated, a mere 50 MHz bump in a part with low per-clock performance is nothing to be excited about. In SiSoft Sandra the E-450 returned a combined processor arithmetic score of 8.53 GOPS, while 7-Zip showed a combined score of 2433. These results are significantly lower than those provided by an Intel Core i5. Even the low-voltage Core i5 in the Acer Aspire S3 more than triples the E-450’s SiSoft Sandra results and doubled the 7-zip results. While some might debate that the HP dm1z is too large to be a true netbook, they certainly can’t debate it is too powerful to be a true netbook.
Or maybe they can – if they approach it from the perspective of graphics. The HP dm1z returned a PCMark 7 score of 1083, which is still low, but reduces the margin of the laptop’s defeat. Running 3DMark 06 resulted in a score of 2710, which is lower than Intel’s HD 3000 IGP, but much better than that provided by Intel Atom netbooks, which are still saddled with the ancient GMA3150.
That graphics solution usually manages a score of just 150 in 3DMark 06. No, I didn’t forget a zero. While an Atom netbook will struggle to play some games sold ten years ago, AMD’s E-450 can run many modern 3D games at playable framerates so long as you keep their detail set to low.
These results, poor though they may be compared to Intel Core powered laptops, represent the best you can expect from a modern netbook processor. This is the price you pay in exchange for over eight hours of battery life in a laptop that costs less than an Apple iPad.
HP’s dm1z is not the prefect netbook. It’s also not the perfect budget ultraportable. But it’s closer to perfection, when approached from either perspective, than any laptop on the market today.
As a netbook, it’s expensive. But if you don’t select any of the options besides the AMD E-450 processor you’ll be receiving a perfectly functional Windows computer for $424.99 that, unlike its smaller competition, offers a comfortable keyboard and touchpad as well as a usable display. In other words, the HP dm1z is what netbooks originally claimed to be but never were – an affordable and enjoyable Windows PC in a portable package.
As a budget ultraportable, the HP dm1z suffers from poor processor performance. Yet it’s also much less expensive and much more portable than the beefier Intel-powered Ultraportables that will so easily thrash the dm1z in SiSoft Sandra or 7-Zip. In addition, this laptop matches or nearly matches more expensive competitors in graphics performance, available RAM and hard drive capacity.
The only alternative I can recommend is the aging ASUS Eee PC 1215N, which is slightly bigger (it has a 12.1” display) and therefor slightly more comfortable for larger folks like myself. If you’re of more typical size, however, the dm1z can’t be beat.
- Attractive design
- Large keyboard and touchpad
- Sharp display with decent black levels
- Good audio quality
- Long battery life
- Admirable graphics performance
- Annoying Norton antivirus
- Poor processor performance
- Still too small for some users