HP Pavilion dm3-1020ea - 13.3in Laptop - HP Pavilion dm3-1020ea

Andy Vandervell

By Andy Vandervell



Our Score:


Lifting up the slim yet sturdy screen reveals the now near-ubiquitous isolation (chiclet, tile, island - call it what you will) keyboard. It's not backlit (an unrealistic demand at this price), but it is among the best examples of such a keyboard we've seen. First of the all the layout is outstanding. Half-height cursor keys ensure a large and unimpeded right-Shift key and everything else is just as it should be. It's also nice how the top row of keys default to their shortcut action, giving you quick access to volume and playback controls alike.

It's really the key actions that impress, however. There's nary a hint of flex and the keys strike the perfect balance between lightness of touch, feedback and depth, making typing on the dm3 a rare pleasure. It's a stark contrast to the keyboard on the similarly priced and specified Medion Akoya E3211, our experience of which is best analogised as typing on a suet pudding...

Similar plaudits can't be made of the touchpad. It's not bad by any stretch, but its smooth finish offers an odd tactile experience and is plagued by fingerprints and greasy smudges. Compared to the rest of the machine such blemishes are something of an eye-sore. This finish is repeated on the buttons as well, though they do offer pleasing and reliable feedback.

As a general rule one doesn't expect a multimedia feast out of ultra-portable laptops, particularly those of a cheaper orientation, but the dm3 doesn't fair too badly. Or, at least, its display doesn't. Viewing angles are good enough, albeit quite shallow by some standards, but its contrast and richness give photos and films plenty of depth, even if it can't resolve some of the finer details.

Audio, on the other hand, is lacklustre. Produced by two speakers tucked beneath the front-edge of the machine, it's only really sufficient for the occasional online video clip. Both volume and clarity are so poor that you'll always be reaching for your headphones or a speaker cable.


February 16, 2010, 5:46 am

"All the same, compared to Intel powered systems - which tend to run very cool - the dm3 does produce more heat."

This is just naff. My 'Intel powered system', (an HP DV5-1098xx with a 35W T9500 CPU) burns my lap whilst just surfing the web, the CPU will happily get to 90 C, unless its on a desk. If your making a comparison, tell us what your comparing it to please!

All the same the laptop looks like a bit of a bargain, very nice finish. I wish you could spec a backlit keyboard though! And tbh its about time AMD released some better dual core chips for laptops..


February 16, 2010, 6:46 am

This looks like a nice notebook, I don't need the disc drive and I appreciate a good keyboard, the networking would be fast enough for me. I'm not a fan of glossy screens though (asus has been the worst offender making grease-magnets eg the Eee 1101HA, although their new Eee PC M101MT is finally a break from that trend)

Andy Vandervell

February 16, 2010, 2:26 pm

@xenos: That particular comment was in reference to other Intel CULV laptops, not full-power systems. Perhaps I should have made that clearer. :)

Neil B

February 16, 2010, 2:35 pm

I bought this laptop last October and I have to say I've been very impressed. I bought it as a low powered/portable alternative to my main PC for a bit of web browsing and a few other bits. But it's just as capable as my main PC and I find myself using this more. The only downside for me is the battery life isn't as good as I'd hoped. Even with the brightness turned right down I can only get a few hours of web-browsing between charges.


February 16, 2010, 2:51 pm

@Neil B: Out of interest, could you be more specific on 'a few hours'? Two? Five?

Neil B

February 16, 2010, 3:44 pm

"A few" = 3. In my book anyway ;-)


February 16, 2010, 4:39 pm

Given is is 24.8-31.8mm thick, it seems unreasonable for HP to suggest there is no room for an integrated optical drive - the 13.3" MacBook Pro is 24.1mm at its thickest (and at 2.04 kg only a smidgeon over the HP's 1.9kg in mass) and incorporates a slot loading superdrive with consummate ease. But then I guess you get what you pay for...


February 16, 2010, 4:40 pm

This is almost what I need. A backlit keyboard and sleep powered USB would have been the icing on the cake. Are there any laptops out there with these extra features?


February 16, 2010, 4:44 pm

Apologies for bypassing the Trusted Reviews price comparison, but this is available at Amazon for £450 (today at least - they have a habit of jumping prices around). That's got to make this a massive bargain.

Andy Vandervell

February 16, 2010, 5:13 pm

@John McLean: You shouldn't underestimate the engineering challenges in integrating a drive like that and keeping costs/weight down. As you say, that's why the MacBook Pro costs as much as it does.<br />

<br />

@Aidan: Amazon is actually listed on our shopping, but the price hasn't updated yet. In any case that's a massive deal, nice spot.


February 16, 2010, 9:09 pm

bit anal but is ethernet really pronounced eeeethernet as in the video review,gee I spent my whole live pronouncing it without any stresses.


February 16, 2010, 9:11 pm

@betelgeus - yep, Eeeethernet I'm afraid. Time to relearn ;)


February 17, 2010, 9:07 pm

Just got a TM2 - very similar in many ways. It does have a touchscreen on it though. You guys should really check it out.


February 18, 2010, 3:29 pm

@NeilB or anyone

What's the fan noise like? Could you have it next to your bed. My Sony VGN was a like a hair dryer, my Samsung Netbook has almost no noise at all. Also have you used the Bluetooth for 3G tethering to a mobile phone? Could somebody explain to me what the "perceived" weakness of the WiFi adapter, I didn't understand this point. My 3G router is "IEEE 802.11g/b" whatever that means.

Thanks in advance.

Neil B

February 18, 2010, 8:33 pm

@Etoile, I haven't noticed the fan noise to be particularly loud but then I normally have my headphones on/the TV on in the background/the misses talking so it's hard to say what it'd be like in a quiet room at night. I think the perceived network weakness is the fact that the Eeeeeeethernet (sic) is not gigabit and the wifi isn't 'n'. The fact your router isn't 'n' either won't matter to you anyway.

As for tethering via Bluetooth, I've not tried it yet but your Bluetooth connection will be the bottle-neck here so don't expect a 3G internet connection.



February 19, 2010, 2:55 am

Thanks Neil. Missus yapping away. LOL


March 20, 2010, 8:52 am

I'm considering getting this laptop, and heard rumors that the CPU and wireless have been upgraded:


Can you guys help me out and let me know if the SU4100 Intel CPU would possibly run better than the AMD?

And if the 802.11a/b/g/n wireless is better than the b/g or the same? (sorry i don't know the difference)

Thanks in advance for any help.

-hanshi (States)

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