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HP Pavilion dm4-1065dx review: HP Pavilion dm4-1065dx

HP Pavilion dm4-1065dx

Scott_Stein.jpg
Scott Stein
Scott_Stein.jpg
Scott Stein Editor at Large

I started with CNET reviewing laptops in 2009. Now I explore wearable tech, VR/AR, tablets, gaming and future/emerging trends in our changing world. Other obsessions include magic, immersive theater, puzzles, board games, cooking, improv and the New York Jets. My background includes an MFA in theater which I apply to thinking about immersive experiences of the future.

Expertise VR and AR, gaming, metaverse technologies, wearable tech, tablets Credentials Nearly 20 years writing about tech, and over a decade reviewing wearable tech, VR, and AR products and apps
8 min read

Editors' note: This review is part of our 2010 retail laptop and desktop back-to-school roundup, covering specific fixed configurations of popular systems that can be found in retail stores.

8.0

HP Pavilion dm4-1065dx

The Good

Stylish design and thin body; fast Core i5 performance; strong battery life.

The Bad

Lacks dedicated graphics; similarly priced laptops include Blu-ray.

The Bottom Line

HP's slick and powerful Pavilion dm4-1065dx offers great core performance, long battery life, and an eye-catching design at a very competitive price, making it a very attractive back-to-school laptop.

Back in June, we reviewed one of the more stylish HP midrange laptops we've seen to date, the HP Pavilion dm4. The Core i5-equipped 14-inch thin-and-light notebook included upscale design touches and a large touch pad in a sharp-looking metal-and-plastic chassis.

Our one complaint with the dm4 was always its price: our reviewed configuration came to $979, which added up to less value than competitors. The retail configuration we found in our back-to-school roundup actually has slightly better specs for only $799. Though you can still get more for the same price from other manufacturers, this laptop now feels like a very good value. And, thankfully, it's still every bit as slim and stylish as ever. For those looking for good battery life and powerful Core i5 performance in a thin body, look no further.

Price as reviewed $799
Processor 2.26 GHz Intel Core i5 M430
Memory 4GB DDR3 RAM, 1,066 MHz
Hard drive 500GB 7,200rpm
Chipset Intel HM55
Graphics Intel GMA HD
Operating System Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit)
Dimensions (WD) 13.4 x 9.0 inches
Height 1.3 inches
Screen size (diagonal) 14 inches
System weight / Weight with AC adapter 5.3/4.4 pounds
Category Midsize

As a close cousin of the 13-inch HP Pavilion dm3, the new dm4 shares a similar metallic body. Rather than the brushed-metal look of the dm3, however, the dm4 features etched lines arcing and cutting their way across the palm-rest and lid, adding a smooth, curving texture to the design. The metal surfaces on both the area surrounding the keyboard and the back lid feel great to the touch, but other parts of this laptop feature plastic construction--notably the upper lid, keyboard, parts of the hinges, and the bottom. It feels mostly high-end, although the screen is covered in inset plastic instead of edge-to-edge glass.

The gently rounded corners give the dm4 a soft, consumer-friendly look. The corners of the keyboard tray (and the four keys that sit closest to the corners) are similarly rounded, as is the oversized touch pad.

The keyboard is similar to the flat-topped, widely spaced keys we've seen on recent HP systems. Lacking any kind of dedicated media control buttons, all your media and alternate key functions are mapped to the row of Fn keys, although the assignments are reversed; using the traditional F4, F5, etc. functions requires holding down the Fn button. This amounts to quicker volume adjustment and media key access, and is an idea we wish more laptops appropriated.

Though the keyboard is nicely laid-out, we found that we made more errors typing on it than on the much more comfortable-feeling Sony Vaio EA24FM, another retail laptop in our roundup. The keys aren't as tall, and sometimes feel a bit sticky when pressed from an angle.

The touch pad is similar to what we've seen on HP's high-end Envy systems. It's larger than most, and the matte-black surface is infinitely superior to the sticky mirrored pads we've seen on the past several generations of Pavilions. The touch pad, like Apple's, eschews separate left and right mouse buttons, instead cordoning off two click zones in the lower-left and -right corners. Still, while it's an overall improvement, some of the multitouch gestures are still hard to use. Scrolling up and down pages using the two-finger method is hit or miss, as is pinch-to-zoom. We found similar problems with the HP Envy 13.

This retail Pavilion dm4-1065dx also includes a fingerprint reader situated to the right of the touch pad. Fingerprint readers are hardly typical in retail machines. They're also not necessary, but the fingerprint-reading security feature was actually quick and accurate to use when logging in, and a smoother process than entering a typed password. The reader's software can accommodate different signatures for all 10 fingers, and even launch different apps by finger. We found this worked well enough to be useful in lieu of keyboard shortcuts.

The HP Pavilion dm4-1065dx not only has a "quick-start OS" that ostensibly loads more quickly than Windows 7 and offers a small suite of apps, like a Web browser, e-mail, and Skype, but this dm4 actually natively boots up in HP's own quick-start OS first instead of Windows 7. Anyone who isn't used to it may find this completely disconcerting. Clicking a corner button launches Windows 7 proper. The HP dm4-1065dx can be configured to boot in Windows 7 every time and skip this stage altogether, but we found it an odd graft.

The 14-inch wide-screen display offers a 1,366x768-pixel native resolution, which is standard for a screen this size. Though overly glossy, the display was clear and bright, with realistic color reproduction. It's one of the strongest features on the HP Pavilion dm4-1065dx. The built-in speakers have decent volume for movie and video playback, but don't offer great definition. That's not a surprise, considering the small size of the HP dm4. Above the screen, a built-in 640x480-pixel Webcam offers better-than-average light sensitivity and contrast for video conferencing, but picture quality is still only suitable for small images.

  HP Pavilion dm4-1065dx Average for category [Midsize]
Video VGA, HDMI VGA plus HDMI or DisplayPort
Audio Stereo speakers, headphone/microphone jacks Stereo speakers, headphone/microphone jacks
Data 3 USB 2.0 (1 with eSATA), SD card reader 4 USB 2.0, SD card reader, eSATA
Expansion None ExpressCard/54
Networking Ethernet, 802.11n Wi-Fi Ethernet, 802.11n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, optional mobile broadband
Optical drive DVD burner DVD burner

The bad news on the dm4-1065dx is that it lacks Bluetooth and Blu-ray, two features that users are increasingly expecting, even in this price range. The good news is that the port selection includes HDMI and eSATA. Even better, the 500GB hard drive that comes in this particular dm4 is 7,200rpm, a zippier variation than the 5,400rpm most laptops generally include. Four GB of included DDR3 RAM can be expanded after purchase up to 8GB.

The Intel Core i5 processor inside the HP Pavilion dm4-1065dx offers a really snappy experience when Web-browsing or working on general apps and multitasking. For most users, this laptop will offer great functional speeds. Though we also appreciate the more budget-minded Core i3 CPU series, we could really feel the faster speeds when loading videos and complex Web pages.

There aren't any dedicated graphics on the dm4-1065dx, which means no mainstream gaming except for casual games and streaming game services such as OnLive, which are very adequate alternatives. Truthfully, most users won't miss the graphics when performing everyday tasks. This laptop will provide more than enough for straight-up computing needs, at speeds that are better than average.

Juice box
Mainstream (Avg watts/hour)  
Off (60%) 0.61
Sleep (10%) 0.93
Idle (25%) 11.59
Load (05%) 56.67
Raw kWh Number 54.22
Annual Energy Cost $6.15

Annual power consumption cost
Asus UL80J-BBK5
$4.52 
Gateway ID49C07u
$4.68 
Dell Studio s1558-5691MSL
$4.74 
Asus K50IJ-BNC5
$4.81 
HP Pavilion dv5-2045dx
$4.85 
Sony Vaio VPCEA24FM/W
$5.26 
Dell Inspiron i14R-2265MRB
$5.63 
Toshiba Satellite A665-S6050
$6.14 
HP Pavilion dm4-1065dx
$6.15 
Samsung Q430-11
$6.49 
HP Pavilion dv6-3055dx
$6.70 

The HP Pavilion dm4-1065dx ran for 4 hours and 8 minutes on our video playback battery drain test, using the included 6-cell battery. That's excellent for a 14-inch laptop, especially as we've seen some disappointing battery performances from midsize laptops lately. For back-to-school consideration, the long battery life is especially appreciated. The dm4-1065dx had one of the longest battery lives among its mainstream retail competitors in this season's roundup.

HP includes an industry-standard, one-year, mail-in, parts-and-labor warranty with the system. Support is accessible through a 24-7 toll-free phone line, an online knowledge base, and driver downloads. Retail outlets also offer extended warranties to laptop buyers at the point of purchase, but we generally don't recommend them.

Multimedia multitasking test
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Samsung Q430-11
684 
Dell Inspiron i14R-2265MRB
715 
HP Pavilion dm4-1065dx
722 
HP Pavilion dv5-2045dx
773 
Toshiba Satellite A665-S6050
790 
Dell Studio s1558-5691MSL
790 
Sony Vaio VPCEA24FM/W
796 
Gateway ID49C07u
797 
HP Pavilion dv6-3055dx
810 
Asus K50IJ-BNC5
957 
Asus UL80J-BBK5
1122 

Adobe Photoshop CS3 image-processing test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Samsung Q430-11
109 
Dell Inspiron i14R-2265MRB
113 
HP Pavilion dm4-1065dx
116 
Toshiba Satellite A665-S6050
129 
HP Pavilion dv5-2045dx
129 
Sony Vaio VPCEA24FM/W
129 
Dell Studio s1558-5691MSL
131 
Gateway ID49C07u
134 
Asus K50IJ-BNC5
148 
HP Pavilion dv6-3055dx
156 
Asus UL80J-BBK5
185 

Apple iTunes encoding test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Samsung Q430-11
143 
Dell Inspiron i14R-2265MRB
148 
HP Pavilion dm4-1065dx
154 
HP Pavilion dv5-2045dx
169 
Toshiba Satellite A665-S6050
172 
Gateway ID49C07u
173 
Sony Vaio VPCEA24FM/W
173 
Dell Studio s1558-5691MSL
174 
Asus K50IJ-BNC5
186 
HP Pavilion dv6-3055dx
246 
Asus UL80J-BBK5
249 

Video playback battery drain test (in minutes)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Toshiba Satellite A665-S6050
272 
HP Pavilion dm4-1065dx
248 
Sony Vaio VPCEA24FM/W
229 
HP Pavilion dv5-2045dx
222 
Asus K50IJ-BNC5
211 
Samsung Q430-11
188 
Dell Inspiron i14R-2265MRB
181 
Dell Studio s1558-5691MSL
178 
Gateway ID49C07u
176 
Asus UL80J-BBK5
164 
HP Pavilion dv6-3055dx
150 

HP Pavilion dm4-1065dx
Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit); 2.26GHz Intel Core i5 M430; 4096MB DDR3 SDRAM 1066MHz; 64MB (Dedicated)/1696MB (Total) Intel GMA HD; 500GB Toshiba 7200rpm

Dell Studio s1558-5691MSL
Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit); 2.27GHz Intel Core i3 M350; 4096MB DDR3 SDRAM 1333MHz; 64MB (Dedicated)/1696MB (Total) Intel GMA HD; 500GB Seagate 7200rpm

Samsung Q430-11
Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit); 2.4GHz Intel Core i5 M450; 4096MB DDR3 SDRAM 1066MHz; 512MB Nvidia GeForce 310M; 500GB Samsung 5400rpm

HP Pavilion dv5-2045dx
Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit); 2.27GHz Intel Core i3 M350; 4096MB DDR3 SDRAM 1333MHz; 64MB (Dedicated)/1696MB (Total) Intel GMA HD; 500GB Toshiba 7200rpm

Asus UL80J-BBK5
Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit); 1.2GHz Intel Core i3-330M ULV; 4096MB DDR3 SDRAM 800MHz; 1GB Nvidia GeForce 310M + 1696MB (Total) Intel GMA HD; 500GB Seagate 5400rpm

HP Pavilion dv6-3055dx
Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit); 2.0GHz AMD Phenom II N930; 6GB DDR3 SDRAM 1333MHz; 384MB ATI Mobility Radeon HD 4250; 640GB Toshiba 5400rpm

Sony Vaio VPCEA24FM/W
Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit); 2.27GHz Intel Core i3 M350; 4096MB DDR3 SDRAM 1333MHz; 128MB (Dedicated)/1751MB (Total) Intel GMA HD; 500GB Seagate 5400rpm

Dell Inspiron i14R-2265MRB
Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit); 2.4GHz Intel Core i5 M450; 4096MB DDR3 SDRAM 1333MHz; 64MB (Dedicated)/1696MB (Total) Intel GMA HD; 500GB Seagate 5400rpm

Gateway ID49C07u
Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit); 2.27GHz Intel Core i3 M350; 4096MB DDR3 SDRAM 1333MHz; 128MB (Dedicated)/1755MB (Total) Intel GMA HD; 500GB Western Digital 5400rpm

Asus K50IJ-BNC5
Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit); 2.3GHz Intel Pentium Dual-Core T4500; 4096MB DDR3 SDRAM 667MHz; 64MB (Dedicated)/1696MB (Total) Mobile Intel GMA 4500MHD; 500GB Western Digital 5400rpm

Toshiba Satellite A665-S6050
Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit); 2.27GHz Intel Core i3 M350; 4096MB DDR3 SDRAM 1066MHz; 64MB (Dedicated)/1696MB (Total) Intel GMA HD; 500GB Seagate 7200rpm

8.0

HP Pavilion dm4-1065dx

Score Breakdown

Design 8Features 7Performance 8Battery 8Support 7
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