HP dm3-1020ea Review

I recently bought a new HP Pavilion dm3-1020ea, following the unfortunate demise of my Dell Vostro. I’ve been using it for a few weeks now and I’m pretty happy with it, although it’s not perfect. Here’s the pros and cons from where I’m sitting.

The Good Stuff

  • Dispatch and delivery was quick and trouble-free.
  • Ubuntu 9.10 works out of the box. As this thing’s got a shiny new AMD Athlon Neo X2 in it, I was a little concerned that it might not yet be supported but it works a treat.
  • The battery life is respectable rather than great. 3+ hours w/wireless off, less with it on.
  • The LCD is fantastic. Clear, good contrast and the reason I went for this model, high resolution. The 13.3″ panel supports 1366×768 which is standard fare for a 15.6″ panel. That means I can get more on the screen, the tradeoff of course is that everything is that bit smaller.
  • The keyboard responsive and feels good under the fingers. I’ve not really noticed the small size of the chassis, as the keyboard feels quite spacious. The keyboard is more like the kind of thing I’ve envied on friends’ Apple notebooks in the past.
  • There were a few toys I wasn’t expecting – an external CD Rewriter and Bluetooth.
  • HDMI out is a nice treat, letting me plug into my TV with no fuss.
  • I found there was a discount on computer equipment from HP thanks to my employer. Worth checking.

The Bad Stuff

  • The touchpad feels a little weird, it’s very shiny and feels a little sticky as soon as there’s any moisture on your fingertips. A minor irritation sometimes.
  • The touchpad is also very sensitive and I keep catching it when typing – the random-caret-location game is less than fun. There’s a little ‘off’ button for the touchpad just above it but seriously – like I’m going to hit the touchpad-on-touchpad-off button every time I use it?
  • You have to hold the fn-key down to access the function keys. Now that’s much more annoying, I personally use the f-keys much more often than I use the multimedia functions that are the main functions of the f-keys. Hand-yoga galore whenever I want to close a window. You can switch this in the BIOS, but even then it’s tough to see the little blue Fn labels. I have learnt that white padlock means F5, though.
  • The LCD panel doesn’t tilt back very far (goes back to about 120degrees from the keyboard. That’s annoying, possibly because I’m quite tall. The screen is also very shiny, which is bad when there’s light behind me and for smudges.
  • The chassis gets pretty warm – not uncomfortably so, but warmer than I expected.

Sounds like a lot of bad points, but they’re mostly minor and occasional annoyances, certainly nothing to make me regret my purchase. If you want a quick, affordable, small, lightweight laptop with a little more screen real-estate than usual, I think you’d be happy with it.

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