I have a friend of mine who is planning a trip around the Middle East and Europe. Keeping with my long standing tradition of giving people fake names from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, we’ll call him Xander. Xander reached out to me to ask what sort of technology he should bring along with him.
He said he was thinking about a smart phone or an iPad. I tried to get him to buy one of the $99 HP TouchPads and he could have gotten in on the deal, but other friends persuaded him not to by comparing it to getting a Yugo or a phonograph. (Guess they didn’t get the memo that the TouchPad is actually newer than even the iPad 2.) Xander is fortunate enough to have BlackBerry provided by his company, so I didn’t think it made too much sense to recommend that he get an Android or a iPhone.
I know that Xander likes to take pictures. He has one of those cameras that requires its own bag. (That last sentence should speak volumes about my photography knowledge.) The iPad doesn’t take expandable media like Secure Digital (SD) cards, so I couldn’t recommend that. (At the same time, I have to admit that the TouchPad wouldn’t be the best fit for the same reason.) There are some Android tablets that would work, but he didn’t seem too excited about that idea.
I recommended that he get a netbook. The netbook solution would be particularly great for my friend because he knows his way around Windows. So there’s no learning curve (which in my opinion is a big plus) like there would be with taking up Android, iOS, or WebOS. When traveling my #1 rule is to eliminate any potential hassles.
I couldn’t just recommend a netbook and leave him in a sea of hundreds to choose from. So I took to the Internet to read some reviews. Time and again, the netbook that seemed to have the most value was a netbook that wasn’t actually a netbook – the HP Pavilion dm1z.
The HP dm1z laptop can currently be found for $419 after coupon “SAVE30HP” with free shipping.
The HP Pavilion dm1z fits in the ultra-portable laptop category. What this means is that it is a little bigger than a netbook, but you get a lot more for a little more money. With most netbooks, the screen is around 7-9 inches with resolution around 1024×768. That’s barely enough to fit most websites and typing on the keyboard is cramped. The processor is usually an Intel Atom, which is clearly designed with battery life in mind, not speed. Open up a few programs and the combination of that processor with a small amount of memory makes you the new mayor of Slowville.
The dm1z has a 11.6 inch screen with 1,366×768 resolution, and the larger screen allows for a larger keyboard. That resolution is better than any iPad or TouchPad out there, and is typical of most 13-to-15-inch laptops. It has a dual-core AMD Fusion chip that was designed for computers that need to, well, actually compute in today’s world. It’s not the kind of chip that you’d use to create Avatar 2, but it will give you a lot more power than most Intel Atoms. With basic configurations coming with 3 or 4 GBs of RAM and 250 or 320 GB of hard drive space, it competes well with most laptops of any size. The 6-cell battery life should be able to get 7-8 hours if you can turn off the wi-fi while doing tasks like blogging (maybe that’s just helpful for me). Lastly, it has the SD reader that Xander could use to transfer pictures from his camera to the dmz1 to Facebook while in Egypt trying to figure out the answer to the riddle of the Sphinx.
Is the HP Pavilion dm1z a good value for you dollar? At a little more than $400 for the base configuration, it will cost about a hundred dollars more than most netbooks. However, it is significantly cheaper than many average laptops. Usually, you have a pay a premium for the thinner, lighter, more portable option, but it seems like HP forgot to price that in. Their loss is your gain.
Back to Xander. He had a question. I had the answer. (Call me Radio Shack.) The HP dm1z would be a solid value on no-hassle functionality for traveling and beyond.
Xander embarked on his trip a couple days ago. With his brand new iPad 2 in tow, all ready to play angry birds. Sigh. C’est la vie.
Some Helpful Links: