Now that we have got the introduction and specifications out of the way, it is time for the real deal: showcasing the laptop’s design in all its glory.
Aluminum, Aluminum, and more aluminum
While looking at the dm4′s exterior, we could not help but feel that the designers over at HP may have gotten a little carried away with its design. This is because, unlike most PC notebooks out in the market, the dm4 comes furnished not with plastic shells, but with smooth and lightweight aluminum.
And it is not just simple, brushed aluminum that the dm4 sports in its design: HP has apparently saw it fit to add some artistic etches along the perimeter. Of course, reception towards this is subjective: while some may find such etchings a turn off, we actually thought that it made the dm4 really stand out from the rest of the competition, especially in the looks department.
Turning on the power to the notebook causes the HP logo to light up, as shown in the image above.
Also, it is worth pointing out that HP has opted to extend the aluminum treatment beyond the external shell. Opening the lid reveals that the entire chassis sports the same etched aluminum design, right down to the palmrest area.
That being said, having a full-metal chassis does come with one major drawback: it makes the dm4 susceptible to static discharge. In fact, we have experienced at least one such discharge while using the notebook.
In addition, we also noticed something unique about the dm4′s chassis: the complete lack of any distractions such as speaker holes, switches or status indicator LEDs.
The right side of the dm4 houses the obligatory charging socket, a couple of USB 2.0 ports and, more surprisingly, a tray-loading optical drive. As optical drives are usually not present in thin-and-light notebooks due to size constraints, the fact that the dm4 comes bundled with one greatly enhances the dm4′s all-rounded capabilities.
Meanwhile, the dm4′s left side is home to most of the ports required for external connectivity. In addition to the standard VGA-out and Ethernet ports, HP has thrown in HDMI-out and eSATA/USB combo ports as well. Also situated here are the headphone and microphone jacks.
The front side of the dm4 is also kept remarkably clean: the only thing you will see here is a smooth strip of metal adorning the perimeter, and a 5-in-1 card reader.
Unfortunately, the dm4′s rear did not get the aluminum treatment: flipping over the notebook reveals that the notebook’s base was constructed out of the hard plastic found in most notebooks. Notice the abundance of heat vents present on the housing.
Accessing the dm4′s inner hardware was surprisingly easy, considering the complete absence of screw holes. Instead, gaining entry to the notebook’s hardware involves removing the battery and loosening the hidden captive screws carefully tucked away in the battery bay.
Unlike most conventional notebooks, the dm4 uses a 7200rpm hard disk instead of the more traditional 5400rpm. Technically, the usage of a faster hard disk allows for faster data read/write performances.
Backing the dm4 are two slots of DDR3 ram, each with a 2GB capacity. Our review unit came with first-party sticks from Elpida. For those interested, the Core i5-520M processor supports a maximum of 8GB of memory, so there is ample room for upgrades.
Last but not least, the dm4 also makes use of a half-height Intel wireless card for WiFi connections. Notice the BIOS battery located directly next to the card.