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HP Pavilion dm1z Review: Don't Call It a Netbook. Do Call It Awesome.

Right out of the box, the HP Pavilion dm1z is an enigma. HP dubs it an ultraportable, but it's clearly designed like a high-end netbook. So, which is it? Doesn't matter: the Pavilion dm1z is one of the best portable PCs I've ever used.

Think about what you need from a laptop, netbook, or whatever: fast performance, a comfortable keyboard, a thin, lightweight design, and an affordable price tag.

The dm1z delivers on all counts, starting with performance: its AMD Fusion E350 processor (which combines a CPU and GPU on the same chip) blows the doors off the Atom processors found in most netbooks. It's fast enough to run full-screen, HD video on its 11.6-inch screen without so much as a hiccup.

The low-rise keyboard proved a pleasant surprise, offering full-width keys with near-perfect spacing and just enough travel for typing comfort. My only complaint is that it lacks Home, End, Page Up, and Page Down keys, which I rely on heavily. At least the extra-wide touchpad supports multi-touch gestures (like two-fingered page scrolling). Update: Reader Wayne pointed out that holding down the Function (Fn) key while tapping the arrow keys replicates the aforementioned missing keys. Nice!
The wedge-shaped dm1z measures 1.2 inches at its thickest point and 0.8 at its thinnest. It weighs 3.5 pounds -- a bit heavy for a netbook, but still very comfortable for travel.

The $449.99 "starter" configuration comes with 3GB of RAM, a 320GB hard drive, and a 6-cell battery. I didn't run any formal tests on the battery, but I did use the dm1z all day without ever needing to find an AC outlet. (HP says it can run up to 9.5 hours.)

The system also sports three USB ports and an HDMI port (for connecting to an HDTV or HD projector). HP even preloads desktop organizer Fences, one of my all-time favorite utilities.

At the risk of gushing, HP has crafted an almost-perfect portable PC. If not for those missing keys, I'd snap one up in a heartbeat.

Pros: Awesome battery life. Thin, lightweight, stylish design. Dramatically faster than any netbook. Full-width keyboard. Multi-touch touchpad.

Cons: Optical drive sold separately. Keyboard missing a few important cursor-control keys.

Should You Buy It? Yes, if you're looking for an affordable, travel-friendly PC that has way more horsepower than most affordable, travel-friendly PCs.

Price: $449.99 and up

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