The HP Pavilion DM1 is Hewlett Packard’s 11.6” entry into the cheap thin and light CULV notebook space. It uses the same chassis as the ION powered HP Mini 311 which has been out for many months already but instead comes with an Intel CULV processor and Intel integrated graphics, instead of an Atom processor and dedicated NVidia ION graphics. This notebook should be good for those wanting better performance outside of gaming.
HP Pavilion DM1 Specs
Intel Celeron SU2300 (dual-core, 1.2GHz) Processor (SU4100, 1.3GHz also available)
11.6” 1366 x 768 display (glossy, 208 cd/m2)
Windows 7 Home Premium (32-bit OS)
2GB DDR3 RAM (1GB soldered on board – 1 free slot with a max of 2GB RAM)
250GB HDD (5400RPM, 2.5” SATA)
Intel GS45 Chipset / GMA 4500MHD Graphics
802.11b/g Wi-Fi (no Bluetooth or wireless N on my model)
5-in-1 Card Reader, HDMI, VGA, single audio jack (mic and headphones), LAN, 3x USB 2.0, Kensington lock
Altec Lansing Stereo Speakers, HD Audio
6-Cell Li-ion Battery (10.8V, 4910mAh, 55Wh – rated at 8 hours)
3.26 lbs / 1.48 kg Weight (6-cell battery)
HP Pavilion DM1 Unboxing
Besides the notebook itself, you have the following goodies.
A/C cable + power brick
No recovery media, but HP provides software to create restore DVDs (you’ll need 2), so you can restore your notebook back to factory condition.
Ports / Buttons / Layout
Here’s a view from the top. Notice the power plug juts straight out a little. There are a couple of status icons imprinted on the lid as well. The lid, available in Black and White has a swirly pattern design.
On the left: HDMI, 1x USB, air vent, power and Kensington lock
On the right: Card reader, combo audio jack, 2x USB, VGA and RJ45.
On the back: Nothing except the battery, though there is a SIM card slot behind it.
On the front: Altec Lansing speakers running across the whole front section.
Underneath, it’s very clean with no protruding bits. Even the 6-cell battery is completely flush with the chassis. One large access panel to access the innards. Check out the upgrades section for more details on that.
Very decent build quality. It’s a step up from cheap plastic mini laptops. It feels great all over and it feels very thin due to the tapering thinness towards the front where I pick it up most of the time. The bottom is clean and clean with no bumps. No creaky bits, just solid overall. Except the lid and the touchpad buttons, though I’ll get to the latter later on.
There is plenty of flex with the lid and you can push it down quite a bit, which doesn’t feel to good and to make this worse you can actually press the touchpad buttons by pushing down on the lid at the front edge. The lid is glossy as well and shows fingerprints pretty easily even on the white model where it’s usually harder to see fingerprints.
The HP Pavilion DM1 adopts the same flat / tiled keyboard seen on earlier HP Mini mini laptops. The keyboard feels very solid, with zero flex and the keys give great tactile feedback. All the keys are decently sized. Each key is slightly curved to fit your finger, and is not flat like on chiclet / tiled keyboards.
I do have two issues with this keyboard.
First: the keyboard is slightly cramped unlike other 11.6-inch notebooks I’ve used. Unlike the HP Mini mini laptops, the DM1 leaves plenty of wasted space on each side of the keyboard. This feels exactly like a good, big 10-inch mini laptop keyboard, which is great for a 10-inch mini laptop. I find typing easier on the Lenovo IdeaPad U150 or Acer Aspire 1410/1810T/TZ for example and definitely much better than Lenovo S10-2 laptop.
Second: this is less of a problem but a minor annoyance to me. The function keys are very hard to read because the lettering is so tiny. I sometimes have to look closely at the keyboard for half a second just to make sure I’m pressing the right function key. That goes for the little images on for the hotkeys. They are small and hard to see, especially in low-light situations.
Overall, if it was just slightly wider, this keyboard would be really great but as it is it feels slightly cramped. Function keys, especially the hot keys need to be quickly and easily identifiable.
The display on the HP Pavilion DM1 sports an 11.6” glossy display with a resolution of 1366 x 768 pixels. This resolution is great for the 11.6” display and I don’t think I could go any higher. I used this display for half a day for work and had no problems with eye strain. If I were to continue using it for whole, or for several eyes, my eyes would certainly feel fatigue from this amount of DPI.
Comparing this display with other glossy displays, particular the same sized 11.6” notebooks, I don’t spot anything different or at least noticeable with the naked eye or without doing tests.
The screen opens up 130 degrees and is ample for pretty much any situation. There was no situation where I couldn’t get an optimal viewing angle.
I’s bright enough at 208 cd/m2. I was using it at 45% brightness (85 cd/m2) most of the time (5th of 11 brightness notches). Here’s a comparison chart below of various mini laptops and notebooks:
The only downside would be the glossy display, for those that will use this outdoors and the glossy bezel which can be a fingerprint magnet.
Sound / Speaker Quality
The first HP Mini 110 mini laptop surprised me by the quality of it’s Altec Lansing speakers way back early this year and the Altec Lansing speakers on this HP Pavilion DM1 are no difference. They blow away pretty much any speakers I’ve heard to date in terms of sound quality and volume. Fantastic sound.
You can find the speakers running across the front bottom edge of the Pavilion DM1 and it clearly says “Altec Lansing” at the bottom.
I don’t think I even managed to max out to 100 percent volume this time, I didn’t dare go that loud.
Update: I’ve tested out the “Fan Always On” option set to off in the BIOS, and it works nicely. The fan remains off at times, mostly when you’re not stressing out the notebook too much (browsing webpages with no flash, word documents, etc). When you watch a video then fan goes on, but it doesn’t matter then because it will be drowned out by the video noise. Doing some blogging, it seems to go on and off repeatedly every couple of minutes which I still find better than having the fan always on.
Low noise levels on the HP Pavilion DM1. Very impressed. I’ve put it through many CPU stressing tests and at it’s highest fan level it’s still reasonably quiet. In a totally quiet room, you can still easily hear it from a normal sitting position but it’s very low. This is the quietest 11.6-inch notebook I’ve tested so far.
There seems to be 2 or 3 fan levels. All of them are very quiet and at most you hear a soft whirring of air out of the fan vent on the left. The highest level fan kicked in after about 30-40 minutes of HD YouTube stressing out the CPU.
At the time of writing this review, I have just noticed in the BIOS, the following option: “Fan Always On”. By default it is set to “Yes”, but I have set it to “No” and I’ll see if that makes things any quieter.
Touch on the HP Pavilion DM1 is just okay… It’s large, especially horizontally and there are two separate mouse buttons but that’s pretty much it. It gets the job done but I am not really excited about using it and actually, in certain situations I can’t use it at all – I’ll get to that in a little bit.
First, I’ll get my biggest complaint with the touchpad out of the way. The buttons. They are noisy and very stiff. Most mini laptops have noisy touchpads but few of them have tiff touchpad buttons like the Pavilion DM1 (Eee PC 1000x series comes to mind). Pressing in on the insides is a little softer than pressing at the outer edges. If you like to use the mouse buttons for clicking inside of double clicking on the touchpad, then you will need a mouse or face embarrassment / harassment from people around you.
Second, the surface of the touchpad looks slick but it isn’t that slick, at least until you start wearing down the surface, which will happen eventually. It’s the same surface you get on the Acer Aspire 1410. Basically, wear-in time to get a smooth slick surface.
Last thing is no multi-touch! Apart from multi-touch gestures making life so much more convenient on a mini laptop / notebook, with such a large touchpad, it seems like a waste not to include this feature. There is only scrolling on the edges. The DM1 uses ALPS drivers and you can customize options for the top left and right corner of the touchpad as well as enable circular motion scrolling. I see no options for multi-touch.
Now that Flash 10.1 pre-release has arrived, you shouldn’t have any problems getting full screen 1080p HD YouTube and Hulu video working. Without Flash 10.1, the SU2300 processor in my version of the HP Pavilion DM1 cannot handle 1080p YouTube, but handles 720p easily. Here’s a clip below showing YouTube 1080p video – mind you, I don’t have it working 100% as the CPU usage should be much lower. (mine was hovering at about 60%)
I’ve used the Aspire AS1410 as a desktop replacement for a today and I did not notice any huge differences in speed from my desktop machine for my regular workflow which is mostly working in the browser. Things did slow down when processing photos from my digital webcam or having tons of web browser pages open which is a bad habit of mine. I also notice a little bit of lag when dragging around Windows very quickly.
I am comparing the HP Pavilion DM1 with two other 11.6-inch notebooks with the same Intel Celeron Dual-Core SU2300 (1.2GHz) processor with 5400RPM HDDs. There’s my main desktop PC in there, so you can compare performance with a powerful desktop.
Not much difference between the 11.6-inchers, a few seconds off here and there and that is based on the HDD in these notebooks.
The HP Pavilion DM1 comes with a 6-cell 10.8V, 4910mAh, 55Wh battery which HP rates at an 8-hour battery. My experience with the HP DM1 puts it in between the Acer Aspire 1410 and Lenovo IdeaPad U150 two very similar 11.6” CULV notebooks. With a real-life usage scenario I managed to squeeze just under 4.5 hours on a single charge.
Like with the Acer Aspire 1410, the HP Pavilion DM1 has no power scheme app and defaults to HP’s custom power saving scheme set in Windows 7. This scheme could probably be optimized better – for example, switching to battery power mode does not turn off Aero effects. All my battery tests below were done using HP’s standard scheme settings. I tested battery life using my own optimized scheme but strangely battery life varied – sometimes better than the below results and sometimes worse.
Here are some figures below for the HP Pavilion DM1 (45% brightness is as close as I can get to 90 cd/m2 brightness):
Battery Life* Test
4 hours, 20 mins Real usage – 45% brightness, Wi-Fi ON, BT ON, HDMI connected to 24-inch monitor
4 hours, 27 mins Looped 480P video – 45% brightness, Wi-Fi OFF, BT OFF
3 hours, 53 mins Looped 720P video – 45% brightness, Wi-Fi OFF, BT OFF
3 hours, 13 mins Looped 1080P video – 45% brightness, Wi-Fi OFF, BT OFF
* Notebook shuts down at 7% battery life (Windows 7 default). So you actually have a little more battery life than mentioned here
Now, let’s compare that battery life with some other mini laptop / notebooks:
As you can see, the HP Pavilion DM1, as I said, is sitting in between the Acer Aspire 1410 and Lenovo IdeaPad U150. I’m getting 4.5 hours of battery life out of the HP Pavilion DM1.
Update: Up to 5GB DDR3 RAM is supported. 4GB RAM for the slot and 1GB RAM built in.
Turning the HP Pavilion DM1 over reveals one large access panel. Opening that up reveals 1x RAM slot (1GB is soldered on-board), half sized mini PCIe slot for the Wi-Fi card, an empty PCI-e slot which I could not get working with a Broadcom BCM70012 card (Windows 7 did not recognize any hardware) and the 2.5” SATA hard drive.
There’s also a functioning SIM card slot (accepts and pushes out the card), though my model does not come with 3G.
Heat levels on the HP Pavilion DM1 are pretty low. At best it gets a little warm on the bottom, and slightly warm on the left palm rest area. If you have it lying on a soft surface like a bed, it will get much warmer underneath. My tests were done on a hard wooden surface.
Temperatures on the top (right side is cool, gets warmer towards the left):
Left palm rest: 33.4 C
Touchpad: 31.4 C
Right palm rest: 28.4 C
Temperatures on the bottom (slightly warmer than top, especially so in bottom left corner):
Bottom left: 40.2 C
Bottom right: 27.9 C
Top left: 33.6 C
Top right: 35.3
Air pushing out of the left air vent remains cool at all times. I haven’t noticed on any occasion, even when stressed for a hour or two, where it was warm.
You won’t have any heat problems with the Pavilion DM1.
Webcam and Microphone
I tested out the microphone (located on the top bezel) quality with Skype and checking out the test service, I voice came back very clear and loud, one of the microphones I’ve used so far. I didn’t need to talk extra loud or put my head close towards the keyboard.
The webcam on the other hand is a 0.3MP Webcam and I found the quality a bit low. There was some noise popping up in low light situations. Will do the job, but I’ve seen better.
Size and Weight
The HP Pavilion DM1 weighs 1.5kg / 3.31 lbs including the 6-cell battery. The battery itself weighs 314 g and the DM1 without the battery weighs 1.18 kg / 2.62 lbs. It’s very similar in weight and size to a 10-inch mini laptop and quite easy to wield and pick up with one hand.
Let’s compare a couple of mini laptop / notebooks so you can see how the HP Pavilion DM1 fares, especially against some other 11.6-inch notebooks:
I can discern the difference in weight between all three 11.6-inchers but there’s little practical advantage over say the lightest 11.6-incher, the Acer Aspire 1410. Getting a smaller 10-inch mini laptop on the other hand is a different matter.
Let’s talk about the size of the HP Pavilion DM1 now. I really like how tapers towards a thin end at the front of the DM1. Since I pick up from the front a lot, this really does give the illusion that the DM1 is slimmer than it actually is, because it is quite thick at the rear. Here are the dimensions of the DM1:
Size: 288mm x 204mm x 16mm (front) – 26mm (back) or 11.3” x 8” x 0.6” (front) – 1” (back). The 6-cell battery is completely flush with the bottom of the case so there’s no extra height added.
The keyboard size is 252mm x 99mm or 9.9” x 3.9”. That’s slightly more cramped than the other 11.6-inchers that I have reviewed. Touchpad size: 82mm x 38mm or 3.2” x 1.5”. Very roomy, but kind of a waste with no multi-gestures available.
Below is a comparison with some everyday objects to give you a better idea of the DM1’s size:
Last of all, and the most surprising, is the larger than average power brick (at least compared to the average mini laptop sized power brick):
I tested out Ubuntu 9.10 final on the HP Pavilion DM1 and I breezed through the installer and in no time was already on the Ubuntu desktop. Surprisingly, everything works! Hotkeys (except for Wi-Fi button), brightness and audio and resume from standby all work. The only thing that did not work was Wi-Fi but after doing an update via LAN I saw Wi-Fi drivers pop up under System -> Hardware Drivers. I just enabled one of them, rebooted and I had Wi-Fi working! Sweet.
HP Pavilion DM1 Review Summary
1366 x 768 resolution – same as larger notebooks
Solid keyboard, no flex
Low fan noise
Excellent audio (thanks to Altec Lansing)
1080p HD playback (YouTube, downloaded videos etc)
Flush 6-cell battery
Linux (Ubuntu 9.10) works great
No multi-gestures on touchpad
Noisy, very stiff touchpad buttons
Keyboard a little cramped
Webcam quality could be better
Big power brick
Pre-configured model lacks Bluetooth / N Wi-Fi