[colug-432] Laptop Review: HP Pavillion

Joshua Kramer joskra42.list at gmail.com
Thu Mar 29 13:25:21 EDT 2012

I recently nuked the second of three USB ports on my netbook by plugging
something in at an odd angle.  Seeing that I was woefully under-equipped
equipment wise, and fearing that a USB catastrophe would nuke the one
remaining good port, I set out looking for a new notebook.

MicroCenter had a Lenovo Ideapad, an i5 with 4G of RAM and 500G disk, that
I was interested in.  Unfortunately, upon booting the CentOS 6.2 live DVD,
I noted that wireless and bluetooth did not work out of the box.  With a
price range on the lower end of the scale, I set out to find a notebook
that did work.

An HP Pavillion dm4 caught my eye.  It's a dual core i3 with 4G of RAM and
640G of 5,400 RPM disk.  The display is an Intel 3000 chipset, and the
resolution is 1366x768.  You won't be playing Skyrim on this machine, but I
wasn't looking to spend a lot of money, either.  It is a refurbished unit
with a 90 day warranty, but a 2-year extended warranty is available for
$99.  It is relatively lightweight, just on the heavy side of

After verifying that CentOS worked with it, I added another 4G of RAM and
walked out the door for a hair over $512 (not including extended warranty).

After creating recovery media (it has Windows 7 Home Premium installed) I
wiped it and first installed CentOS 6.2, leaving about 150G free.  I then
installed the Ubuntu-based DreamStudio in a dual-boot configuration.

DreamStudio boots up lightning-quick - less than 20 seconds - but when it
reaches the login screen, the backlight is out.  I have to manually adjust
the backlight at that time.  I haven't had the chance to try any of the
multimedia apps (I installed it to do some light video editing) so there
isn't much to report here.

C6 boots up a bit more slowly... but at least I can see the login screen!
:)  For the gigabit ethernet, I had to install an EPEL-based driver [1].
The touchpad is sensitive, so if my hand brushes against it while typing,
the cursor jumps around.  And, even when I connect it to a TV with
1920x1080 resolution, it under-drives the TV at 1366x768.  Aside from those
quirks, I am pleased with the performance of this machine, given that it's
only an i3.  Linux-based KVM virtual guests are also snappy; Windows, not
so much, but I haven't yet had a chance to install the KVM guest drivers.

You can find this laptop elsewhere, but so far, MicroCenter has the least
expensive price.


[1]: kmod-atl1e-
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