As the slim, snazzy HP Mini 1000 is one of our favorite Netbooks, and we were excited to hear of a less expensive sequel. While the new $329 Mini 110 doesn't stray far from the Mini 1000 mold, there are some subtle changes that are not always for the best.
At first glance, the two systems seem identical, but when we pulled out a Mini 1000 for a comparison, we saw the Mini 110 was slightly thicker and heavier. Not by much--but in a tiny Netbook form factor, a tiny change can make a big difference, especially when compared with something like the new Asus Eee PC 1008HA, which is slimmer than its predecessor is, not the other way around.
Other than that, we found a standard set of Netbook components, including an Intel Atom N270 CPU, 1GB of RAM, Windows XP, and a 160GB 5,400rpm hard drive. The biggest advantage is that at $329, this new model is very competitively priced, especially when only a few months ago, the $350 Acer Aspire One seemed like the drop-dead entry point for XP Netbooks. You're essentially trading size and weight for price, as a comparably equipped Mini 1000 would cost about $110 more.
|Price as reviewed||$329|
|Processor||1.6GHz Intel Atom N270|
|Memory||1GB, 533MHz DDR2|
|Hard drive||160GB 5,400rpm|
|Chipset||Mobile Intel 945GM Express|
|Graphics||Intel GMA 950 (integrated)|
|Operating System||Windows XP|
|Dimensions (WD)||10.3x6.6 inches|
|Screen size (diagonal)||10.1 inches|
|System weight / Weight with AC adapter||2.6/3.2 pounds|
While the general look and feel are very similar to the Mini 1000, when compared side by side, the Mini 110 looks a little bloated. Still, the Mini 1000 has always occupied the higher end of the Netbook price spectrum, and the Mini 110's thicker look is more in line for what you'd find in the sub-$399 category.
The same excellent keyboard, with wide, flat keys, is still one of our minilaptop favorites, but the touch pad remains a weakness in the Mini's design. The wide-but-short surface makes scrolling a pain, and the mouse buttons are pushed to the far left and right sides, rather than sitting below the touch pad. We're also not fans of the Mini's power switch, which is a small slider on the front edge that's hard to hit (although it does make it unlikely that you'll accidentally turn the system off or on when you don't mean to).
One new feature that did catch our eye was the inclusion of a third-party software app called Syncables, which promises to connect different machines on your local network, allowing you to easily share documents, photos, video, and music, and sync e-mail accounts, even across Windows, Mac, and Linux systems.
In theory, it seems like a good idea (we often use Gmail and Google docs for this kind of thing). In practice, we found the Syncables software difficult to use. The screens are clearly not designed with the Mini's 1,024x576-pixel resolution in mind, the layout and navigation were confusing, even when installed on our desktop computer, and the entire process seemed fairly unintuitive.
The 10.1-inch wide-screen display has a 1,024x576-pixel native resolution, which is slightly lower than the 1,024x600-pixel resolution standard for a screen this size. That's generally fine for most Web surfing, but long, vertical pages and Word documents can require a lot of scrolling to read. The edge-to-edge glass of previous models has been replaced by a standard inset panel. It's not as slick a look, but the display itself was matte, instead of glossy, which is a very hard-to-find feature in a Netbook, and especially good if you're bothered by screen glare.
|HP Mini 110||Average for category [netbook]|
|Audio||Combo headphone/mic jack||headphone/microphone jacks|
|Data||3 USB 2.0, SD card reader||2 USB 2.0, SD card reader|
|Networking||Ethernet, 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth||Ethernet, 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth|
The Mini 110 has more ports and connections than the Mini 1000 line, with a third USB port and a standard VGA output for video. Watch out for the split single headphone/mic jack, which can cause problems if you need to record and monitor audio at the same time.
Intel's single-core 1.6GHz Atom N270 CPU offers enough computing power for the basic tasks that Netbooks are designed--namely Web surfing, working on documents, and some basic multimedia playback. While the Asus Eee PC 1008HA offers a slightly faster N280 version of the Atom, this system performed on par with previous HP Mini Netbooks.
Netbook buyers must usually choose between three-cell and six-cell battery options. The smaller batteries commonly run from 2 to 3 hours, while a six-cell battery can be good for 5 hours or longer--but at the cost of added size and weight. In our video playback battery drain test, the Mini 110 ran for 2 hours and 22 minutes using the included three-cell battery. That's somewhat less than we'd expect, as the original Mini 1000 ran 20 minutes longer on the same test. In casual use, for Web surfing and office work, you should get closer to 3 hours (or longer) of battery life.