People seem to be busier every day. Work has to be done on the go. Email needs to be checked on a phone, and the stock market needs to be followed on the tablet pc. But what if you just need to write a paper or simply send an email? You could bring your laptop, but people tend to complain about how big that thing really is, how much it weighs and the fact that by the time its fully booted your battery is half dead already. The solution? The netbook!
If you find yourself to be one of those people described above you may have already considered buying a netbook. This smaller brother of the laptop is perfect to take along with you on a trip by train or airplane. They barely weigh anything anymore and when you press the power switch you can almost immediately begin typing. Too bad choosing the right netbook isn’t as easy as it sounds, not even for the veteran pc addict. That is because the hardware tends to differ enormously from normal desktop hardware.
Now a little while ago I managed to get my hands on an HP Pavilion DM1-32oosd netbook. In this review I will try to cover as much as I can about the pro’s and the con’s about this specific netbook and about netbooks in general.
|CPU-type||AMD Fusion E-350|
|Chipset||AMD A50M Fusion|
|Memory type||DDR3 (SODIMM)|
|Videochip||Radeon Mobility HD6310|
|Video out||D-Sub (VGA), HDMI|
|Screen resolution||1366×768 (WXGA Wide)|
|USB||3x USB 2.0|
|Wlan||802.11b, 802.11g, 802.11n|
|Laptop extra’s||Cardreader, Webcam|
|Operating system||Windows 7 Home Premium|
|Warranty||1 jaar pickup & return|
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Looks and feel of the Netbook
When opened, you will notice that the inside of the netbook are also made of this material. The entire body which houses the screen, including its hinges, and the body of the lower part of the netbook are the same color. Only the keyboard and mousepad are matte black.
The keyboard is one of those clichet types. This means that the keys seem to float a little above the keyboard surface, which improves the feel of typing on the keyboard. The space between the keys is also rather large, also adding to the comfort of this particular keyboard.
The mousepad is slightly recessed in the body and has built-in buttons that are only recognizable because of light grey line marking their edges. It has to be said that the mousepad is probably one of the less thought out features of this netbook, and that is the main reason I always bring my wireless laptop mouse. The mousepad doesn’t always react the way it should and that makes the mouse pointer hop all across your screen from time to time. In addition, the buttons don’t behave as they should either. It happens quite often that I try to click something but I get the right-click menu instead. This can be quite annoying when you do not bring a mouse, but whenever you do you can simply disable the mousepad by two light taps in the upper left corner.
When closed the laptop does tend to bend a little when you press the cover, and when opened the screen is slightly bendable. This doesn’t necessarily feel weak. This even feels rather solid for a screen of this thickness. The keyboard is very solid and does not give an inch when you put pressure on it. This also adds to the comfort the keyboard gives. The body can be slightly bent alongside the mousepad, but again this doesn’t feel too cheap but still rather solid.
When the power switch is pressed the netbook starts booting windows 7 flawlessly. There is one downside though. The version of windows it is shipped with is a 32-bit version, even though the processor is 64-bit. I would advise every user that has the 64-bit version lying around to install this prior to use. Anyways, 32 or 64 bit, the laptop boots quickly. This is mainly because of the slightly faster 7200 RPM hard disk that is installed instead of a regular 5400RPM one. Once booted the windows scores can be seen and, if a 32-bit version of windows is used, it is also stated that windows only is using 3.5 GB of RAM memory instead of the available 4 GB.
The average score the components get is rather high and it can be easily said that the E-350 APU processor unit is the bottleneck for this netbook. It should also be pointed out that the graphics score are quite high, considering these are presented by the on-board chip in the processor. Luckily, the entire system as a whole feels very responsive and downright quick and even full-HD movies can be streamed or played regularly without any kind of lag. The signal can even be forwarded to a TV set or beamer through the use of the HDMI port.
Simple games can be run quite well too. To test this I installed League of Legends and ran it on the screens native resolution with decent settings. This resulted in a steady 30 frames per second which means that it was properly playable, even in the midst of battle.
Even when the netbook is using its full capacity to calculate things, like when mining for bitcoins, you will never hear the cooling fans. A slight whisper is probably the only thing you will hear.
Lastly we have the built-in webcam with microphone. The webcam is perfectly well capable of shooting simple pictures for msn profile use or something, but don’t expect it to shoot good movies or anything. The microphone also does what it’s there for and records audio in a decent manner. I do have to add that when I tried to set up a video conversation through MSN the processor was pressured so much that both my own video stream as well as the incoming video stream were lagging so much that it was unusable. Maybe it performs better on different programs, like Google talk.
The ports are all nicely integrated into the body of the netbook and allow you to connect whatever you need. The right side of the netbook features a multi-purpose 3.5mm jack for both audio-in as audio-out. In addition we have a SD/MMC card reader and two USB 2.0 ports. Finally a good old VGA interface is in place to connect to older screens or laptops, and hidden behind a little cover is the Ethernet port in case Wi-Fi is not available.
On the left side of the netbook there is only one USB 2.0 port present. You will also find an HDMI port here, as well as a lock and the connection for the power supply.
The front and backside feature no ports whatsoever.
Either the battery is very large, or the system is really good at managing power consumption. I happen to know that it’s a little bit of both worlds, although the new AMD APU is famous for having extremely low power consumption. When the battery is fully charged it will last around six hours in total. This may drop a little depending on what you are using the netbook for, but it pretty much never drops under four hours. If that is not enough for you the bottom of the netbook features a simple switch that releases the battery and makes it possible to insert a spare battery.
Conclusion: Is the netbook worth it
All together this netbook is great to carry along with you. It weighs only about 1.6 Kg and the adapter is tiny as well. For a price just under 400 euros it’s also relatively cheap. I have to add that a newer version has been announced already featuring a total black design, fingerprint reader, a slightly altered body and different, including faster, processor units. If you are planning on buying a netbook anytime soon it may be a good idea to follow these developments.
I hope you found this review to be helpful and enjoyable to read. If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to ask them in the comments below.