We took a look at the HP Pavilion dm3-1105ea last month and concluded that, while it looked pretty cool, it was slightly lacking in the performance department. Now the Pavilion dm4-1050ea is the subject of another penetrating probe. Costing around £650, this laptop rocks an Intel Core i5 CPU, which gives us high hopes for its performance.
Give 'em enough rope
The dm4-1050ea sports a braided-rope pattern that's not dissimilar to the decoration adorning the HP TouchSmart tm2-1010ea's lid and interior. The silver lid has the same pinkish, salmon tint as well. While the lid's colour won't be to everyone's taste, we found it easy on the eye.
This laptop also sports an all-metal body. Aside from making it a very credible murder weapon, this gives the whole machine a satisfying weight, and it feels very well put together. It's much sturdier than most of the shonky plastic laptops we see at CNET UK Towers.
While we admire its build quality, the metal chassis does make the dm4-1050ea pretty weighty. At just a fraction under 2kg, it isn't incredibly heavy, but its weight does make a machine that's very portable in terms of size a little less easy to carry. We think the extra weight is worth it, though, because the body feels lovely.
The pinkish tint to the lid warms our cockles and no mistake, as does the all-metal chassis
The dm4-1050ea's 14-inch LED display, which pumps out a maximum resolution of 1,366x768 pixels, also looks great. It's pleasing to see a high-resolution on a screen of this size, and, although we've seen displays that offer a higher contrast ratio, this one is bright enough. During testing, photos and videos were rendered with a pleasing vibrancy.
We were pleased to see an HDMI output on the left of the dm4-1050ea, as well as an eSATA/USB port for plugging in an external hard drive or USB cable. Apart from these additions, the port selection is bog-standard -- there's a VGA out, Ethernet jack, two more USB ports, 3.5mm sockets for headphones and microphone, and a multi-format card reader. There's also an optical drive -- something notably absent from other Pavilion laptops.
The dm4-1050ea scores highly when it comes to usability, and the keyboard, with isolated keys, makes for comfortable typing. Likewise, the trackpad is big and highly responsive, which always makes us happy bunnies. This laptop has a 320GB, 7,200rpm SATA hard drive tucked away inside, and the whole caboodle rumbles along on Windows 7 Home Premium.
The dm4-1050ea comes with Intel's 2.26GHz, dual-core Core i5-430M CPU. We're seeing these Core i series CPUs in more and more machines, and, as far as we're concerned, this can only be a good thing. When we subjected this laptop to our PCMark05 benchmark test, it scored an impressive 5,666.
Sadly, the situation is less rosy on the graphics front, as the dm4-1050ea lacks a dedicated graphics card. That means you'll have to make do with the built-in Intel HD Graphics. At this price, we'd have expected to see a GPU from Nvidia or ATI chucked into the mix. As it stands, the dm4-1050ea is underpowered when it comes to chucking polygons around. When we ran our 3DMark06 benchmark test, it scored a truly dismal 1,603.
If you're not into gaming, you might never notice this gaping hole in the dm4-1050ea's performance. With a high PCMark05 score, you'll find that normal multitasking and multimedia jobs are no problem. Indeed, we tested out some 1080p video on this machine and found that it played very smoothly. Still, if you enjoy the odd gaming session, or if you need reasonable graphics capability for a particular piece of software you regularly use, this might not be the laptop for you.
We tested the dm4-1050ea's battery life by running Battery Eater's Classic test, which runs a laptop's CPU at full blast until the machine runs out of juice. The dm4-1050ea held out for 2 hours and 17 minutes, which is a pretty reasonable time, even if it's not the greatest we've ever seen. With more restrained use, you'll probably squeeze a few more hours out of this laptop.
The HP Pavilion dm4-1050ea is a well-built, good-looking machine that offers decent performance in most areas. The lack of a dedicated graphics card limits the number of tasks you'll be able to throw at it, but this won't bother some people. In short, the dm4-1050ea didn't blow us away, but it's a decent bit of kit.
Before throwing down your precious, precious moolah, take a gander at the Acer Aspire 5553G, which offers peppy performance at a similar price.
Edited by Charles Kloet