Connectivity is what you would expect on a sub-£400 machine. Along the dm1-3200sa’s left we have a USB 2.0 port and HDMI, while the right houses an SD card slot, headphone/microphone jack, twin USB 2.0 ports and VGA.
Hidden behind a flap at the end is Gigabit Ethernet, which is a nice if somewhat unnecessary touch considering most consumers probably use Wi-Fi. Wireless credentials include the usual Wi-Fi N and Bluetooth. The obvious absentee here is USB 3.0, which you really don’t find on too many budget laptops (the Acer Aspire 5750 being a notable exception).
Usability is a bit of a mixed bag, though overall this little Pavilion holds its own. The chiclet keyboard offers well-spaced matt keys and a good layout. There’s very little travel to them, but despite this shallow feedback, keys offer a nice click.
Niggles include the sharp edge of the palm-rest which can make it uncomfortable to rest your hands (depending on angle), and a slightly loose, rattling sound to a few keys – though thankfully there’s little flex. While typing on this laptop is pleasant enough, it doesn’t hold a candle to the experience provided by the superb Lenovo X121e, which really shows how keyboards should be done.
The touchpad, meanwhile, is small but responsive, and its smooth surface feels great. Unfortunately it’s the kind of buttonless affair we’re seeing ever more of, and with a slightly stiff right-click this is far from the ideal implementation. However, if you’re a tap-to-click kind of person this is a non-issue.
Getting to the 11.6in screen, we have a fairly standard glossy, 1,366 x 768 TN-based affair. Viewing angles are as poor as ever, with strong contrast and colour shift when not positioned centrally. However, under ideal conditions the display holds up surprisingly well, with vibrant colours and singularly impressive dark detailing; the dm1-3200sa effortlessly resolved every shade on our greyscale without effort, and there was no light bleed or serious backlighting inconsistency. This means that as long as you tilt it right and watch alone, HP’s little Pavilion laptop provides a great visual entertainment experience.
Audio from the front-mounted Altec Lansing speakers is likewise impressive if you keep in mind this ultraportable’s size limitations. There’s practically no bass and it’s definitely inferior to the Harman/Kardons found on the Toshiba NB550D netbook, but the HP’s sound is nonetheless detailed and without noticeable distortion.