It's hard to say that any sub-$500 notebook provides a "premium" user experience, but thanks to Fusion, we really think we're getting close. HP spent a lot of time in the design lab with this machine, and the fit and finish here is worthy of praising again. It really enhances the overall user experience.
In fact, we found ourselves looking at the dm1z a bit different than the machines before it. It's just got that style, class and pep that we usually find in higher-end CULV notebooks. The 11.6" LCD, while glossy, is particularly crisp, and the viewing angles are top-notch.
Typing on the dm1z is also worthy of praise. The keyboard here is about as spacious as it gets for a "netbook," or ultralight and we didn't have to make any real adjustments to type quickly and error-free. We dare say that this is one of the best typing experiences we've had on a sub-$500 machine. HP clearly spent a lot of time getting the key travel just right. The keys aren't mushy, and they aren't stiff; "just right" really is the best way to describe them.
And then there's the trackpad. In our mind, the usability of the trackpad can make or break the overall user experience of a an ultralight notebook. Most of them have trackpads that are cramped and hard to operate, but that's not the case here. This one's spacious and well-positioned, and the light textured surface is very easy to track on.
It's also important to point out that the trackpad natively supports multi-finger, multi-touch gestures. Two-finger scrolling as well as pinch-to-zoom is supported, without having to enable anything from a software perspective. That's definitely a much-appreciated touch. We have often wondered why Apple was so far ahead of PC makers on the touchpad experience, and while the "glass" trackpad on Apple's newest MacBook Pro is still superior (in my opinion anyway), the dm1z trackpad is easily the best PC trackpad we have ever touched. It's highly responsive, supports multi-finger gestures and has an amazingly tactile texture.
Pavilion dm1z Windows 7 Experience Score
You may be wondering just how zippy the 64-bit copy of Windows 7 Home Premium feels. In short, it's pretty good. There are definitely times where multi-tasking brings things down a notch, and it cannot handle hardcore 3D gaming, but for a machine that costs just $450, it does an impressive job. To put it bluntly, the performance feels similar to some ~$1000 CULV machines that we used last year. That's pretty impressive, and again speaks volumes about just how zippy the Fusion chip is.
For all but power users, there's enough power here to satisfy. The only thing that let us down was gaming and multi-tasking. While the machine is capable of playing back 1080p footage without stuttering, it couldn't handle a low-res game of Half-Life 2 without significant lag in spots.
The only other major notable drawback here is fan noise. AMD's chips have never been the coolest in the bunch, and there's no question that the dm1z can get a bit loud at times. The fan stays on nearly constantly, and the low, perpetual hum gets a little annoying after awhile. Then again, we didn't notice the bottom nor the palm rests getting too hot, even after extended use. So, to that end, we're prefer fan noise over a piping hot machine, but it's still something you should be aware of.