Laptop Riddle me this: what's less than an inch thick, weighs 1.9kg and starts at around £470? If you read the headline, you might have already figured this one out - it's HP's new Pavilion DM3.

What is still puzzling, though, is why we haven't seen more machines try to encroach on this in-betweener category of "ultraslim" laptops.

For those unfamiliar with this new trend, the so-called ultraslim falls between category cracks. It's more powerful than a conventional netbook, has the dimensions (and the slick style) of an ultraportable, and doesn't break the bank. HP's Pavilion dv2 ushered in the category early this year, but we haven't seen many others come along since. No other machines sporting the AMD Neo processor have made it to market yet, and only now are we seeing machines boasting nVidia's ION platform.

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The HP Pavilion DM3 comes in both AMD and Intel flavours, so let's get the differences between these 64bit Windows 7 machines out of the way, first. The AMD version packs the 1.6GHz Athlon Neo X2 dual-core CPU, a 320GB hard drive (7200rpm), and an ATI Radeon HD 3200 series GPU. 

The Intel version of the HP Pavilion DM3, on the other hand, offers the 1.3GHz Pentium SU4100, a 500GB hard drive (7200rpm), and an integrated GPU - not exactly heart-stopping. It'll probably be enough to get you through the day and watch videos without a hitch, but the lack of a proper, discrete GPU on the Intel model already tips the scales in favour of the AMD.

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HP spokespeople promise that the HP Pavilion DM3 will last up to 10 hours with the standard-issue six-cell battery.

As for what the two HP Pavilion DM3 flavours have in common, it's a lot: a fairly sharp-looking 1,366x768-pixel panel on a 13.3in display, a 5-in-1 digital media reader, 4 USB ports, VGA and HDMI-ouputs, headphone/mic jacks, 802.11n Wi-Fi and 10/100 ethernet.

Now obviously, we're not ready to review this machine yet, but if its release is any indicator, the netbook sector will continue to splinter and be shaken up by disrupters like the DM3. As an ultraportable user who didn't want to spend a lot of money, I gravitated to the dv2; and for a bit less cash and more features, the DM3 makes an equally strong case now for netbook users.

Think about it for a second. The DM3 isn't going to cost that much more than some high-priced netbooks - such as the Samsung Go and the Lenovo S12 - and they don't offer the hard-drive space (or speed), RAM, or 3D performance that this machine offers. If anything, I'm anticipating an interesting horse race between HP's DM3 (with the Athlon Neo) and HP's Mini 311 (with the nVidia Ion platform). Stay tuned for full reviews, because it's going to be a very interesting autumn for laptops.

See also:

Lenovo IdeaPad S12 review

PC World