Page 1: Design, Build and Connectivity Page 2: Usability, Screen and Audio Page 3: Specs, Battery, Value and Verdict
Can’t afford one of HP’s Envy 14 Spectre designer Ultrabooks? Worry not, if you want to stand out without stretching your wallet too much there’s always the ‘premium’ Beats range of Dr. Dre-certified HP laptops, finished in a rather fetching combination of black and red. Today we’re looking at the latest addition to this stable, the Pavilion dm4-3000ea Beats Edition.
First off let’s make one thing perfectly clear: Beats Edition laptops are nothing unique. They’re merely your regular HP laptop with decent specifications stuck into a premium-feeling black-and-red chassis, with a few extra touches, an emphasis on good audio (whether through the retuned speakers and subwoofer or re-engineered headphone jacks) and some custom software, plus a bundled pair of Beats headphones.
In the past this often meant you were paying a significant premium for not that much extra laptop over a non-Beats equivalent, as exemplified by the last model we reviewed, the HP Envy 14 Beats Edition.
The Pavilion dm4-3000ea Beats Edition comes in one standard configuration with a dual-core 2.5GHz Core i5 CPU, 4GB of RAM, a slow 500GB hard drive, DVD writer and, most interestingly, dedicated AMD Radeon HD 7470M graphics.
It’s worth noting that, unlike the Envy, Pavilion is not HP’s high-end line. So while you do get certain Beats niceties like red keyboard backlighting, other touches like the borderless display are absent. Thankfully this also results in a slightly lower price, with this Beats Edition coming in at a penny short of £900 from HP’s store in the UK.
Closed, the dm4-3000ea is classic Beats, with a plain matt black metal lid emblazoned with the stylish but overbearing Beats logo in red, and the HP one in glossy black. Fingerprints are still an issue here, but not nearly as much as on glossy plastic or metal like the original Samsung Series 9.
Opening the dm4 up, we’re greeted by an equally premium interior. We’ve always loved soft-touch finishes on laptops, and while HP hasn’t gone all the way (as Lenovo generally does on its ThinkPad line), the entire keyboard surround sports a lovely, almost rubberized feel that’s great to rest your hands on while typing.
Unfortunately the screen’s bezel goes back to the glossy black plastic we love to hate. Certainly a layer of gloss can look great on certain devices, but here it just looks inferior when compared with the rest. The dm4-3000ea’s base sports a textured, almost sandpaper-like finish that’s hardwearing and provides a good grip.
Build quality is pretty good throughout, though there were one or two areas with just a little more flex than we would have liked. Overall though, this HP is both a highly attractive and well-made machine.
Connectivity is everything you might expect from a reasonably premium laptop. To the left, leading the charge are two (too) close-together USB 3.0 ports, followed by HDMI, Gigabit Ethernet and good old VGA. An SDXC memory card reader is discreetly incorporated into the front, while the right houses the tray-loading DVD writer (not slot-loading as on the Envy 14 Beats Edition), combination headphone/microphone jack, and a lone USB 2.0 port.
Wireless duties are handled by the usual Bluetooth plus Wi-Fi N duo with support for Intel’s WiDi wireless video standard thrown in for good measure, while an HD webcam rounds out the features. We would really have like a Blu-ray player at this price, but then not everyone would use one of these so it’s a fairly logical corner to cut.