HP debuts Mini 100e: you know, for kids
HP's entry into the institutional educational laptop market is priced more aggressively than other similar products we've seen, but does that make it better?
Suddenly, it seems like everyone's trying to get in on the affordable educational laptop game. Not so long ago, we took a look at the new tablet Netbooks. The also explored this territory last year.initiative, which didn't have a specific product so much as a global push for manufacturing durable kid-oriented
HP has now entered the game too with the HP Mini 100e, a thick, ruggedized variation on their existing Netbook series. Its price seems to be one of the chief advantages, coming in at $299. Other products such as the Intel Classmate and last year's Dell Latitude 2100 have been priced a little more expensive.
With a 10-inch matte screen, a "spill resistant" keyboard, and an LED indicator on the back lid that lets teachers know whether kids are online or not (which could be a good or bad thing depending on the class), the Mini 100e also has a rugged though not retracting handle and various software programs pre-installed, ranging from Microsoft Office Starter to a basic PDF reader. The Mini 100e also comes with a modem in addition to Ethernet, in the event it's used in developing countries with older internet options. 802.11b/g Wi-Fi isn't automatically included; it's listed as optional. Available OS options include Windows 7 Starter, XP and SUSE Linux Enterprise 11.
The specs inside are largely Netbook standard: Atom N455 CPU, 1 GB of DDR3 RAM, and a 160GB hard drive. The Mini 100e can be fitted with either a three or six-cell battery. The keyboard is wide and 92% full-size, while the track pad was at least a little larger than on other budget Netbooks.
The unit felt reasonably sturdy if slightly heavy in our brief hands-on with a prototype. At about 3.2 pounds, it was a bit heavier than some Netbooks, but still easy enough to carry. Plain off-white matte plastic curved around the outer case, though HP also says a variety of customizations are possible with logos or colors. The Mini 100e will not be sold to general consumers, but will instead be available for institutional purchases.
$299 is certainly a reasonable price, though we wonder if we'd miss the potential usefulness of a touch-screen convertible tablet. The Mini 100e is expected to be available in July, just in time for the back-to-school rush.