Tablets are taking the world by storm. Even corporate users are buying them in order to replace their bulky laptops. True, notebooks aren't very convenient to carry around, but are tablets really worth the hype surrounding them? After spending a few days with the iPad 2 and Acer Iconia Tab, my answer is no. Well, they do have a slim profile and faster CPUs, but at the end of the day they are only good for playing around with.
If you are looking for a portable device to get your work done, then you must check out netbooks. These devices are essentially compact laptops that sacrifice the optical drive to achieve the portability. The initial Atom-based netbooks were good for performing tasks such as web browsing and data handling. However, they failed to please users who were ready to pay a premium for additional goodies such as HD video playback and better multitasking. The situation changed with NVIDIA's ION, which brought some much-needed energy to Intel's platform. Sadly, the lack of love between the two companies let the platform down.
Intel was dominating the desktop market, but it had a chasm between its powerful Core processor family and AtomCPUs. Technically, i3 ULV (Ultra-Low Voltage) CPUs are present, but they're too expensive for practical use. This gave AMD a good chance to go head-on with Intel using its much-expected Fusion. However, the company took its time to deliver Atom's nemesis. Actually, it took too long, as the thing was announced way back in 2006. Nonetheless, as the saying goes: der sahi per durust sahi.
Finally, we have this HP netbook that comes with AMD's promise of full HD playback and some gaming capabilities. Let's find out whether it justifies its premium price tag of Rs 10,000 more than a basic netbook.
Build Quality And Design The retail box comes with a netbook and power brick. When closed, the device measures 11.4" (l) x 8.4" (w) x 1.2" (d). It sports an elegant design and colour scheme. The lid features a semi-gloss finish and a rubbery texture that feels far better than the usual glossy laptops. Moreover, this also helps it remain immune to fingerprints.
Despite the use of plastic, the gadget feels very sturdy. This is due to the use of good quality materials. Additionally, the curved body makes this 1.6 kg device feel comfortable while holding it. The hinge is well-built and enables the display to be reclined at an angle of 180 degrees.
The inner bezel has a silver finish that goes well with the rest of the black body. It sports a webcam, cam light, and microphone. The island-style keyboard is designed to make the most of the available space. The keys are big enough to avoid typos. HP has managed to offer two full-sized [SHIFT] keys on the keyboard. However, [HOME], [END], [PAGE UP], and [PAGE DOWN] are nowhere to be seen. This is not an issue though, as the combination of [Fn] + arrow keys make up for them. For example, [Fn] + [UP] for [PAGE UP]. The trackpad is reasonably big and contains two mouse buttons that are virtually indistinguishable, except for a raised line indicating where they start. This helps maintain continuity in the design. Oh, and the trackpad can perform some pinch-zoom tricks.
In contrast to most laptops, the dm1z's back panel lacks any screws; just slide a button on the rear and the panel opens up, revealing the hard drive, RAM, and other components. This is heaven for people who like to mod their machines. Overall, the design and build quality is quite pleasant. With a backlit keyboard, it would have been perfect.
Right side view.
Left side view.
Display And Sound The 11.6" LED backlit screen offers pixel dimensions of 1366x768. This HD-capable screen sets you free from cropped videos and web pages. The glossy display offers impressive brightness, but it's prone to glare when kept opposite a light source. Viewing angles are strictly ok, and it starts losing colours beyond 45 degrees. Surprisingly, the Altec Lancing sound strip on the front edge of the dm1z sounds superb. It's very loud for a system of this size. Additionally, some Dolby wizardry adds depth to the sound - great for enjoying music and movies, and you won't really need to pull out the earphones from your pocket that often.