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HP Pavilion dm3-1020ea - 13.3in Laptop - HP Pavilion dm3-1020ea
From a purely subjective point of view, performance is very good. HP has had the sense to install a 64-bit version of Windows 7 Home Premium, making good use of the 4GB of RAM available. Moving in and out of applications is snappy and responsive, no doubt aided by the faster than usual 7,200rpm hard drive. Only very intensive tasks cause a problem since the low-voltage CPU isn't best suited to HD video editing and similar tasks, but photo editing isn't a problem. HD video playback on the other hand is handled fine, with 1080p MOV's playing smoothly with around 10 to 40 per cent CPU usage. YouTube HD flash video plays okay, too, though our Internet connection was the limiting factor in testing the higher bit-rate iPlayer HD.
It's a similar story in our benchmarks. While the dm3 is bested by the Intel-powered Acer Aspire 1810TZ and Samsung X520 in PCMark Vantage, it's only by a small margin and the HP even holds an advantage in some tests, particularly the HDD and gaming tests. Indeed, if you do fancy some very casual gaming, then the dm3 is your best bet. In TrackMania Nations it managed a reasonable 18.2 frames per second, over double the Acer. This doesn't make it a gaming system, but there's a little more headroom there if you don't mind making some compromises - at the very least you'll be able to play some old classics.
Battery life, traditionally a problem for AMD, is good as well. Admittedly, both the Acer and the Samsung come out on top, but the HP has a larger screen and a lower capacity 57 Watt-hour (5,026mAh) battery than the Acer, so the four hours and 51 minutes of productivity is a good result. Even with little power saving you should be able to get a solid four hours or so of Internet browsing out of this machine.
Our only remaining comment about the dm3 is that, in common with the dv2, it does run warmer than we'd normally expect. It's nothing like as toasty, or noisy, as the dv2 was and when we say 'warm' we mean exactly that, it's still perfectly comfortable on your lap. All the same, compared to Intel powered systems - which tend to run very cool - the dm3 does produce more heat.
Were it not for the somewhat sluggish network connectivity, we'd probably award the Pavilion dm3-1020ea a 9/10. All the same, it still gets a Recommended Award thanks to outstanding design, decent performance and a keyboard whose quality belies the affordable asking price. Anyone in need of a flexible, portable laptop will find the dm3 an excellent servant.