February 21, 2012
- Sleek design
- USB 3.0 & Bluetooth
- Nice-looking display
- Speedy performance
- Mediocre gaming performance
- Keyboard could be better
For speedy performance and a sleek design the HP Pavilion dm4-3090se Beats Edition is the laptop to look at. It has a fast Intel Core i5 CPU, a 14-inch high-resolution display, a hybrid hard drive and it doesn't break the bank either. You know the audio quality will be great since it comes with Beats audio.
The design of the HP Pavilion dm4-3090se is really sleek and stylish with the bright red Beats Audio logo in the middle of the aluminum black lid. The lid, however, does show fingerprints amazingly easily. The keyboard deck is all black and the keyboard has glossy black keys and red backlighting. The whole laptop measures 13.3 x 8.9 x 1.3-inches (wdh) and weighs 4.4-pounds, so it's about average in terms of both size and weight.
The black island style keyboard features well-sized and placed keys and bright red backlighting as we mentioned earlier. We did find the keys to be a little mashy and didn't quite give us the comfort we would've wanted to have. In a rather strange design choice, HP substituted the "b" key with the Beats logo. The 3.4 x 1.7-inch touchpad felt smooth to the touch and provided a good frictionless surface. The pad is also multitouch enabled, so you get all those handy gestures with this one.
Since this laptop has the Beats Audio technology built-in, we expected this HP dm4 to have superior audio. There are two speakers and a subwoofer in the front of the laptop's body and they provide good, clear sound output that can easily fill a small room.
In a move to make this laptop multimedia-friendly, HP includes a 14-inch 1600 x 900-pixel LED-backlit display. We found the display to have a good amount of brightness and crisp color and text output. Viewing angles were good and the screen has a matte coating to reduce visible glare.
The port selection includes two USB 3.0 ports, one USB 2.0 port, HDMI-out, VGA-out, gigabit Ethernet, a headphone/microphone combo jack and a 2-in-1 memory card reader. There is also 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and Intel's Wi-Di wireless display technology. As we point out with all the new computers we review, we appreciate HP including the latest USB connectivity.
The specifications of the HP Pavilion dm4-3090se include an Intel Core i5-2450M (2.5GHz) CPU, 6GB of RAM, a 500GB 7200RPM hard drive with a 32GB SSD cache drive and Intel HD 3000 graphics. There is also a SuperMulti DVD burner optical disc drive.
The SSD cache drive provides an extra performance boost because it allows for non-user accessible space for caching most-used files, which results in fast boot and load times. The average boot time was about 45-seconds, which was quite fast. The speedy Intel CPU with TurboBoost technology provides a good level of performance that puts this laptop right at or above the category average.
HP tried to compensate for the integrated graphics by beefing up the other specs but it still doesn't provide enough power for today's 3D intensive games. It can, however, run the more moderate games and stream HD video from the Internet with no problem. There is an upgrade available that gives you AMD Radeon HD 7470M dedicated graphics, but expect to pay at least $200 extra.
Battery life with the HP Pavilion dm4-3090se lasted about 5:30-hours, which was about average for the 14-inch category and for laptops with similar specifications.