We’ve already touched upon some elements of the keyboard, but taken as a whole it lives up to expectations quite comfortably. Its keys do lack a little travel, but this weakness is alleviated by sharp, precise actions and an excellent layout.
As also mentioned earlier, after our previously mixed experience with the ClickPad on the HP Envy 15, we were pleased to discover HP has solved its issues this time around. You no longer have to worry about jogging the cursor as you click, and the basic idea – as proved by Apple – has always been a sound one. Consequently the touchpad on the dm4 is a pleasure to use.
It does have one major drawback, however. Like the Samsung Q330 it’s position right in the middle of the machine, as opposed to directly below the spacebar. This means one tends to brush the right side of the pad when typing, thus jogging the cursor. This is annoying, but unlike the Samsung there’s a quick, easy, and rather ingenious way to deactivate the pad by double tapping in its top left corner. You can also tweak the palm check sensitivity of the pad, though all told we’d still prefer it if HP had avoided the problem altogether.
On the audio-visual side of things, the dm4 is capable but doesn’t excel. Its 14-inch screen, which has the usual 1,366 x 768 resolution, has average viewing angles, but in its optimal position produces more detail and greater clarity than many. And, though a 14-inch screen ought to make the dm4 noticeably larger than a 13.3-inch machine, its extremely slim bezel ensures the dm4 is only 11mm wider than the Q330.
HP continues its long-standing hook-up with Altec Lansing in the audio department, and supplements this with Dolby Advanced Audio processing. Neither has the desired effect, however, as the speakers on the dm4 are deeply average. Their position beneath the front-edge of the machine certainly doesn’t help here, but overall their quality is relatively unimportant considering the size of the machine.