HP Pavilion dm3-1002

The HP dm3 is categorized as a thin-and-light, but at first glance it doesn't appear to be significantly thinner than the new polycarbonate white MacBook. This is a successor to the dv2 in spirit, HP's thin-and-light that we reviewed back in the spring.

Editor's note: We're currently benchmarking and testing the HP Pavilion dm3. We'll update this page with a full review and test results when available.

If there's a burgeoning trend in laptops these days, it's not just inexpensive, low-voltage 12-inch ultraportables, but also 13-inch (and larger) notebooks dropping their optical drives and going ultra-low-voltage as well. The HP dm3 is categorized as a thin-and-light, but at first glance it doesn't appear to be significantly thinner than the new polycarbonate white MacBook. Clad in brushed aluminum inside and out, it definitely cuts a solid, professional profile. This is a successor to HP's recent 12-inch Pavilion dv2 in spirit, HP's thin-and-light that we reviewed back in the spring. This model, however, has a ULV Intel processor instead of an AMD Neo.

Starting at $549, the HP Pavilion dm3 aims to be an affordable Windows 7 thin-and-light for those who don't want a thicker (and more tricked-out) machine, yet still want to accomplish tasks without feeling limited to Netbook-style performance. Our configuration, was significantly more expensive, with an ultra-low-voltage 1.3GHz Intel U7300 Core 2 Duo processor (instead of the AMD Athlon Neo), a 500GB hard drive and 2GB of RAM, plus 64-bit Windows 7 Home Premium.

With the upgraded processor, the dm3 can still handle most tasks thrown at it by the average user, while claiming an "all day" ten-hour battery life from the included six-cell battery (we're currently testing these battery claims in our Lab).

The dm3 has a feel that's solid and perhaps slightly weighty for its sub-1-inch-thick profile. The external lid's dark gray brushed aluminum theme continues to the keyboard tray and palm rest area inside. A raised black keyboard feels comfortable, with keys that are a little softer than the MacBook's. A gleaming mirrored touchpad has good sensitivity and is surprisingly un-slippery. On the other hand, we didn't feel great traction on our fingers. Mirrored buttons lie below the medium-sized pad area.

The power button is oddly placed, off to the side of the laptop and to the front of the right-side strip of ports. The silver button has to slide to start, also unintuitive. Four USB 2.0 ports, HDMI, and an SD card slot join VGA-out and separate headphone and mic jacks.

Overall, the dm3 looks a little like a budget version of the HP Envy 13, especially in its recessed keyboard area. Glossy black plastic surrounds an inset 13-inch LED display, above which is a low-light-optimized HP webcam. The 1,366x768 display has nice brightness and sharp colors, but sometimes seemed to auto-adjust its brightness in odd ways in our casual office testing. Speakers embedded in the bottom of the laptop displayed strong volume and decent sound quality.

While $549 seems tolerable for a midrange laptop, our configuration of $859 seems a little on the high side, especially with similarly-configured machines from Asus and Toshiba costing less (and Apple's basic 13-inch MacBook less than $150 more).

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