Small doesn’t necessarily mean weak… as attested to by HP's attractive Pavilion dm1-4015tu.
The HP Pavilion dm1-4015tu is the latest in HP’s dm1 series, and this dark grey ultraportable still weighs only 1.57kg. Although entirely plastic, the 4015tu is surprisingly sturdy. The main body had only a small amount of flex around the palm rests, and while the screen did bend a little here and there, it still felt like it’d survive many trips bumping around in a backpack. Unfortunately the hinge covers bent with even slight pressure and were not really up to the standards of the rest of the build. The 11.6in (1,366 x 768 resolution) screen had fine colour depth, and while the viewing angles were decent along the horizontal axis, the image quickly washed out when tilting the screen up or down.
A pleasant surprise was the keyboard, which was better than might be assumed given it's all plastic. It didn’t flex at all as far as we could tell, and while the numpad had been removed, the remaining keys were comfortably spaced and sized. The chiclet keys had short travel and felt only slightly spongy. We weren’t entirely thrilled with the touchpad’s rough texturing, but it was sensitive enough for enjoyable usage and the multi-touch gestures worked decently.
The 4015tu has a low-voltage 2nd Gen Intel Core i3-2367M (1.4GHz), which is pretty powerful for an ultraportable. There’s also 4GB of RAM, which is enough to ensure that more than one program can smoothly run at once. This set of specs earned the 4015tu a respectable score of 4,061 in PCMark Vantage when Windows 7 Home Premium was set to high-performance mode. The six-cell Lithium Ion battery kept the 4015tu going for five hours 46 minutes with light use in power saver mode, a strong performance for an ultraportable.
HP’s Beats Audio technology is present in the 4015tu, and while the sound quality is better than we’d expect of such a small notebook it’s not exceptional. High-pitched music distorted a bit at full volume, while bass-heavy music developed a slight echo. Overall though, it handled a wide variety of songs better than we’d expect, and the volume is enough to fill a small apartment.
As might be expected, there’s no DVD burner, but otherwise the 4015tu has a good variety of ports, the standouts being HDMI and Gigabit Ethernet. In addition to the typical 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi there’s Bluetooth 3.0, so wireless connectivity is up to the same standards as physical connectivity. The integrated webcam works well, but while it supports a resolution of up to 1,280 x 800, it’s smooth only at 640 x 480.
Ultraportables are in a tight position, thanks to the growing tablet market and the arrival of the sleek new Ultrabooks, but the 4015tu still has a competitive edge. The computing power on offer in this notebook is very good given the low weight, and the overall quality of everything from the external casing to the speakers is commendable. If the 4015tu is any indicator, then ultraportables have plenty of life in them yet.Available from HP, retailing for $799
.APC rating: 8/10 (Highly Recommended)