Well, my beloved Samsung NC-10 decided to bite the dust. It had been acting up for awhile, but I hadn’t taken a close look at it since I have not been using it much since graduating and have been using my iPad instead when I travel. The NC-10 has RAM built into the motherboard and that built in RAM went bad so that the system will boot up but after about five minutes gets a memory error.
I realized that I still needed a laptop for military uses. In the Army we use CAC cards and that capability is nowhere on the iPad radar. With my annual training days fast approaching I realized I needed a replacement for my netbook.
I wanted something small and very portable but affordable and perhaps with a slightly larger screen than the 10.1 incher on the Sammy. I had not shopped laptops for a long time so I quickly hopped on Amazon and Newegg to read reviews. There were the usual bunch of netbooks and inexpensive laptops, but I wanted something a little bigger and more powerful than a netbook and not as large as a traditional laptop.
On a whim I looked at the local Best Buy ad but did not expect much since BB is typically way overpriced. As I was browsing, the HP Pavilion DM 1 caught my eye. Here are the specs that were relevant to me:
- CPU- AMD E-350 Fusion (CPU-GPU integrated) 1.6ghz, dual core
- This extremely low power CPU provides a huge performance increase over single core Atom processors and even a nice bump over dual core Atoms without sacrificing battery life
- RAM- 3GB DDR3 (expandable to 8GB)
- I love this! Netbooks often top out at 2GB.
- 11.6 inch (1366×768) LED screen
- This is a huge improvement over the typical 10.1 inch netbook screen. The bigger size and higher resolution mean I can get more stuff on the screen. It also means that HD movies look much better (Oh, and good luck playing HD movies on a single core Atom processor. I’ve tried it and it is rough). The only downside here is that it is a glossy screen. I loved the matte screen on the Sammy. Now I have to deal with reflections again. Also, coming from a nice IPS desktop monitor it is a bit shocking how this screen lacks in black levels and tries to make up for somewhat muted colors with brightness (I always keep the brightness turned down a couple levels otherwise it will blind you even in a brightly lit room). It’s not a bad screen, but it just can’t compare to a nice IPS desktop monitor.
- Graphics- AMD Radeon HD 6310M with up to 1460mb of memory shared
- Quite frankly, for the price and class of this computer it is a graphical hoss. Granted, I don’t do gaming or photo editing on it but I do watch a lot of HD Netflix, YouTube, and HD videos off the HDD and it performs admirably. If you are looking for a small notebook that can handle HD video look no further. A lot of online reviews had said this computer will even play a lot of modern, graphically intensive games albeit at a lower resolution.
- Weight- 3.5 lbs
- This is a lightweight and svelte machine (1.2” thick). When I am traveling with a backpack full of gear I don’t want my laptop to add seven or eight pounds of weight. For the amount of performance this packs under the hood that 3.5 lbs is nothing.
- Battery- Rated to last up to nine hours and I have easily seen over 7 hours with steady use.
- Keyboard- This has a nice, responsive, and perfectly sized chiclet style keyboard that is very easy to type on.
- HDMI Out- Many of the newer Army projectors have HDMI out and also many of the TVs in Army classrooms and conference rooms have HDMI. This is a great feature and one that is very useful since the computer can actually handle outputting HD video.
- Price- at $379 at Best Buy I thought this was a steal when compared to many netbooks that easily run over $300.
Basically, this is a great computer for someone who needs the portability of a netbook without sacrificing as much of the performance that a netbook often requires. It has exceeded all my expectations in terms of performance and I have also found the look and build quality of the system to be generally solid. This is not a business machine and it is not built as tough as business machines, but it should hold up well as long as I don’t drop it.
This is a great product for someone who travels a lot and needs a small, but relatively powerful computer that they can easily take with them. That’s why I bought it and I have not been disappointed. If you are considering a small, netbook-esque computer you owe it to yourself to look at and consider this system.