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



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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.

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