We've been a bit spoiled at TrustedReviews this week. It was only Monday that the Samsung Q330 impressed us with its power, portability and reasonable price and today we're looking at a machine with similar qualities: the HP Pavilion dm4-1050ea. Despite its larger 14-inch display it still weighs less than two kilos and it currently retails online for slightly less than £650.
This makes the dm4 a mere £50 more than the Samsung, but £100 or more wouldn't be unreasonable judging by the design. Its smart, copper-coloured brushed aluminium lid and body gives the dm4 a sense of style and class far in excess of its price. Indeed, the dm4 manages one of the rarer achievements in technology design: it's both eye-catching and tasteful.
There are lots of small details to delight in, too. HP has integrated the touchpad and its buttons into what it calls the ClickPad, a feature first touted in the unibody Apple MacBook and then copied by HP in the Envy 15. It's not quite as good as Apple's take on the idea, but it works much better than it did on the Envy and negates the need for separate, potentially unsightly, buttons.
Another idea ripped from the Apple playbook is the top row of Function keys that default to their alternative actions. Purists probably won't like it, but it can be turned-off in the BIOS and we found the shortcuts more convenient than not. Those shortcuts include brightness and media playback controls, volume and mute buttons, and a wireless radio toggle; the latter two of which feature smart LED status indicators.
Of course a laptop needs to be more than pretty, but on paper the dm4 shouldn’t disappoint with its performance. At its heart is a 2.26GHz, dual-core Intel Core i5 processor, and there's a fast 7,200rpm, 320GB hard drive in support. Like the Q330 you only get 3GB of RAM and graphics is of Intel's integrated variety, but a nippy processor, fast hard drive and ample RAM should ensure good performance.
HP hasn't skimped on the ancillary features, either. You get both Wireless-N Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 2.1, not to mention Gigabit Ethernet. There's also a fingerprint reader for secure authentication, and an eSATA/USB combo port.
Indeed, the dm4 has all the connections it needs. These include VGA and HDMI for video, three USB ports (including the eSATA/USB combo), two audio jacks, and a memory card on the front. There's also a neatly integrated 8x DVD Re-writer drive with LightScribe support, and a VGA webcam with dual-microphones.