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Hands On, Video: HP’s New Pavilion dm1, Available September 21 for $399

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A few weeks ago when I got my first look at a new, updated version of the HP Pavilion dm1, I was really excited. The original dm1, which came out at the beginning of the year, was one of the first AMD Fusion ultraportables and more than half a year later it continues to be among the best. The form factor, design, performance, and price all balanced nicely in an 11.6-inch package. And the brief hands-on time I had with the new dm1 gave the impression that it could be even better than the original.

Then late August happened. With the uncertainties surrounding HP’s PC division, is the new dm1 still worth considering? I think so. It’s poised to be one of the best of the next generation Fusion laptops, and you’ll get your chance to own one come September 21st.

New HP Pavilion dm1 with AMD E-300 and E-450 APUs

HP didn’t mess with the outside of the Pavilion dm1 too much, but did make some welcome improvements. The line of the laptop is more streamlined and smooth than the first generation, the battery better integrated, and even more fingerprint-resistant. In addition to the glossy finish version, there’s now a soft-touch, rubber-feeling coating available with a pattern imprinted right on the body, which adds durability and cuts down on scuffs.

HP Pavilion dm1 lid

HP Pavilion dm1 from the side

On the deck and bezel, HP went with black instead of silver this time. Thankfully the keyboard remains the same, but the designers changed from a clickpad to a more traditional touchpad with mouse buttons. Both keyboard and touchpad are comfortable to use. In my short hands-on time I didn’t note undue flex or difficulty typing.

HP Pavilion dm1; first gen on the left, new model on the right

HP Pavilion dm1 Compared: First Generation on the Right, New Model on the Left

The dm1 includes CoolSense technology to keep it comfortable in your lap and ProtectSmart to minimize damage to the hard drive if you jar the notebook.

I’m also glad to see that Beats Audio has made it’s way into the dm1 line. It’s not going to make the sound coming out of the speakers all that great, but when you attach headphones or an external setup, you’ll get superior quality.

HP Pavilion dm1 bottom with battery out

HP continues the 360 design that we’ve seen on several of the company’s consumer notebooks — the same imprint and finish on the lid is also on the bottom. This bottom piece comes off easily, so users can access the hard drive, RAM, and even the Wi-Fi card to replace them. Tinkerers like me definitely appreciate touches like this.

HP Pavilion dm1 bottom with bottom panel off

The dm1 is still less than an inch thick in the front and weighs only 3.5 pounds. Due to the nice curve at the back it’s comfortable to carry. Though it’s not the most featherweight ultraportable, the dm1 feels light for its size while still also feeling solid and sturdy. Just as with the first one, when I had it in my hands I could definitely see myself carrying and using it all the time. The new touchpad is a definite bonus, and overall HP just made an already sleek and attractive notebook better looking.

HP Pavilion dm1 lays flat

This Pavilion dm1 will have three processor options. Remember the new AMD Fusion chips announced the other week? You’ll find them both here. That means you’ll get good performance plus excellent graphics.

The glossy charcoal versions will be available on September 21st, with the soft-touch models coming later this fall. The E-300 APU version (available at launch) starts at $399. HP hasn’t released pricing for all of the other options yet, including the AMD E-450 model. An Intel ULV Core-i3 version, out on October 30, starts at $599.

System Screen

In addition to the 7,200 rpm hard drive option, consumers will be able to configure the laptop with an SSD. No firm price points have been announced, but you can expect those models to cost around $200 more.

While you’re waiting for the full review, check out my hands-on video and image gallery below.

K. T. is a lover of technology, gadgets, and all things geek. As Reviews Editor she has the enviable job of playing with evaluating mobile tech to help consumers separate the digital wheat from the chaff. K. T. rocks an Ubuntu-ified Samsung NC10 netbook. Follow K. T. on Twitter @KTBradford, on Google+ and Tumblr or email her at ktb@notebooks.com.

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