July 2012: The HP Pavilion dm1z is slated to be upgraded with new AMD second-generation Fusion processors, but those have not reached retail or been reviewed at the time of this report. At last look, versions of the HP Pavilion dm1z with first-generation AMD Fusion processors remain at retail and have been very well received; see below. -- Editor
The HP Pavilion dm1z netbook achieves a difficult task: inspiring consensus among virtually all review sites that report on it while racking up an impressive array of Editors' Choice or Recommended ratings. It's powered by an AMD Fusion processor, and reviewers praise the dm1z's processing power, ability to handle high-definition video and basic 3D gaming, reasonable battery life, multitasking abilities and solid design. Drawbacks noted by more than one reviewer tend to be niggles: The fan is a bit noisy, and the hard drive can be slow. A recent refresh of the series added a charcoal gray color to the case, a much improved touchpad, Beats audio technology and more powerful AMD Fusion processor options.
The dm1z is user-configurable if bought directly from HP, but a $450 retail configuration (HP Pavilion dm1-4010us) includes a 1.65 GHz AMD Fusion Dual-Core E-450 processor with "discrete class" Radeon graphics, 4 GB of memory, a 320 GB hard drive, a full-size keyboard and an 11.6-inch display. That's powerful enough to challenge some full-size laptops' performance and to clearly outclass most netbooks. Downgrades, such as a smaller hard drive or slightly less powerful processor, can shave a few dollars off the price tag, while upgrades, such as a 128 GB solid-state drive instead of a conventional hard drive, can shoot the price tag right into the stratosphere.
Most reviewers test an older retail configuration that includes a slightly less powerful AMD Fusion processing unit and 1 GB less RAM. However, those who have looked at both report no notable differences in performance, so those older reviews remain relevant.
CNET and Wired provide the best information on the HP Pavilion dm1z. Both sites contrast the retail configuration with the one each reviewed earlier in 2011 and provide useful insights.
CNET is one of two professional reviewers to cover the fall 2011 refresh of the HP Pavilion dm1z. Dan Ackerman says the additions to the computer make the already-strong dm1z the netbook to beat. While he praises the new touchpad and Beats audio technology, he says an upgrade to AMD's E-450 Fusion processor and an extra 1 GB of RAM didn't provide much of a performance boost.
Review: HP Pavilion dm1z (Fall 2011), Dan Ackerman, Oct. 6, 2011
Wired contributor Christopher Null is the other professional critic to cover the fall 2011 refresh. Like CNET's Ackerman, he doesn't see much of a performance boost from the switch to AMD's E-450 Fusion processor -- in fact, he sees a 10 percent decrease in app performance (which could be accounted for in normal variation from benchmark test to benchmark test). But he says he appreciates the new touchpad, which fixes his only major complaint with the original version. He notes that the dm1z's screen is now a bit dimmer, but battery life is also a bit longer.
Review: HP's Winning Netbook Gets a Makeover, Christopher Null, Oct. 31, 2011