Last month, we said the strengths of AMD's Brazos platform were partly responsible for making Acer's Aspire One AO522 the best netbook we'd ever tested. The AMD APU's performance was excellent, and the system that accommodated it had some nice bells and whistles, like a high display resolution and a great keyboard and touchpad. We were looking at a netbook on steroids—but without an overblown price tag to match.
HP's Pavilion dm1z is in a similar position. While it's not a radical departure from previous ultraportables, and its raw CPU performance actually lies a little bit below what's available from the cheapest CULV laptops, the dm1z offers an extremely compelling package at an unbeatable price. The AMD E-350 delivers solid CPU performance, great graphics, and competitive battery life. The build quality is top notch, as are the keyboard and touchpad. Little extras like CoolSense and HP's general attention to detail make this notebook much more than an ultra-cheap option for folks with shallow pockets.
I'm particularly shocked by the dm1z's level of overall polish, which is highly unusual for a Windows notebook, never mind one that costs only $450. You could spend an extra $100-150 on an Intel CULV laptop with a quicker processor, but honestly, why would you? Odds are you might end up with something less comfortable to use.
The HP Pavilion dm1z is, therefore, fully deserving of our Editor's Choice award. Right now, I'm considering ditching my MacBook for one of these. That's saying a lot.
Going back to AMD, I think it's now clear that Brazos is a home run for the company. Until we start seeing cheap Sandy Bridge ultraportables and next-generation Atom netbooks with better graphics performance, AMD-powered systems are likely to dominate in this price range—perhaps not in terms of market share, but definitely in terms of bang for your buck. That's quite a reversal from the situation just a few months ago. Let's hope AMD's next mobile Fusion products are as compelling.
65 comments — Last by KinCT at 11:30 AM on 03/22/11
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