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Connectivity, Audio-Visual and Quick Web

Connectivity on smaller laptops generally suffers, but the dm4 seems to have everything you really need. This includes staples such as VGA and HDMI outputs, but also extends to an eSATA/USB combo port. This can be found on the left edge, and there's a further two ordinary USB ports on the right edge next to the optical drive. They are rather close together, though, which may prove a problem for larger flash drives.

As ever the display has a glossy, high-contrast finish that’s quite reflective. This is always something of a bore for any properly mobile laptop, and the dm4 is very much an on-the-go, sling in your bag type of product.

Still, it would be harsh to single out HP on this count considering it's not alone in this habit. Naturally the screen is LED backlit, thus aiding slimness and power consumption, and it has the near industry standard 1,366 x 768 resolution.

We didn't have time to fire up the speakers on this machine, but going by experience we're not expecting too much – small laptops rarely have the power or space for great audio.

One thing the dm4 has that many of its ilk don’t, is a fingerprint reader. Not only does this speed and secure logging into your machine, HP's newly revised software suite allows you to associate your fingerprints with online accounts. Not a new idea per se, but not one you see in too many £800 consumer laptops either.

HP has also added its Quick Web, instant-on OS to the dm4. In common with many such features on other laptops, it's actually a derivative of DeviceVM's SplashTop OS – also known as ExpressGate on Asus laptops, for example. It's a nice addition for quickly getting online, but by and large we've yet to be convinced by the merits of such systems; not least as 'instant-on' doesn't chime with reality in most cases.

Nonetheless, despite one or two potential issues – namely the new touchpad – the Pavilion dm4 looks likely to build on and complement the success of the dm3. Its integrated optical drive is particularly noteworthy, especially as it doesn't impact the dm4's portability too heavily. We look forward to giving the finished article a thorough testing when it goes on sale later next month.

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