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HP Mini 1103 review: HP Mini 1103

HP Mini 1103

Scott Stein Editor at Large
I started with CNET reviewing laptops in 2009. Now I explore wearable tech, VR/AR, tablets, gaming and future/emerging trends in our changing world. Other obsessions include magic, immersive theater, puzzles, board games, cooking, improv and the New York Jets. My background includes an MFA in theater which I apply to thinking about immersive experiences of the future.
Expertise VR and AR, gaming, metaverse technologies, wearable tech, tablets Credentials
  • Nearly 20 years writing about tech, and over a decade reviewing wearable tech, VR, and AR products and apps
Scott Stein
6 min read

HP's Netbooks have traditionally come in two versions: consumer 10-inch models such as the Mini 210, and pro-level Netbooks such as the Mini 5103. The $299 Mini 1103 is both and neither. An affordable business/education-targeted Netbook, it has a bare-bones design while offering better bells and whistles under the hood than similarly priced competitors: Bluetooth, a 7,200rpm hard drive, and mobile broadband antennas all come standard. An excellent battery life only adds to its appeal. In the end, the Mini 1103 is still a 10-inch single-core Atom Netbook, but it's one of the better budget Netbooks you can buy.


HP Mini 1103

The Good

Budget-priced Netbook with solid construction; excellent battery life; comfortable keyboard.

The Bad

Lacks HDMI; single-core Atom CPU; narrow touch pad; limited customization; ultimately, still a plain old single-core Netbook.

The Bottom Line

If you're looking for a budget-level Netbook with a long battery life, the HP Mini 1103 offers a very affordable package compared with other HP Netbooks. Just be forewarned: there isn't anything here you haven't seen before.

Interested consumers will likely ask: what's the difference between this "small business-oriented" Mini 1103 and HP's consumer-branded HP Mini 210, a perennial top pick at CNET among Netbooks? Mostly, not much. In terms of design, the Mini 1103 is spartan. Black is the only option, unlike HP's spectrum of Mini 210 colors. The price is better with the Mini 1103: instead of mid-$300s for a Netbook, the 1103's $299 price puts it on par with the least expensive Netbooks from Acer and Asus. Feature-wise, the 1103 actually comes out on top; instead of removing any features to hit $299, the Mini 1103 adds extras such as Bluetooth.

Price as reviewed $299
Processor 1.66GHz Intel Atom N455
Memory 1GB, 667MHz DDR2 RAM
Hard drive 250GB 7,200rpm
Chipset NM10
Graphics Intel GMA 3150
Operating system Windows 7 Starter
Dimensions (WD) 10.6 x 7.5 inches
Height 0.9 inch
Screen size (diagonal) 10.1 inches
System weight / Weight with AC adapter 2.8 / 3.4 pounds
Category Netbook

Glossy black on the outside, matte black on the inside, the Mini 1103 has a clean, inoffensive look that doesn't try too hard. The plastic Netbook is lightweight, although slightly thick with the curved lid closed. To eliminate battery bulge, the long-life battery in the Mini 1103 is largely tucked into the space between the hinges. The top lid opens up completely to a flat 180 degrees, affording plenty of flexibility when lap-typing. Its design is an analogue to HP's consumer Netbooks, and is nothing like the high-end, crisp design of the more expensive HP Mini 5103. This one's a rental car compared with the Mini 5103's luxury coupe touches.

The flat keyboard and its surrounding deck are treated in matte black plastic that has a budget feel, but is sturdy and flex-free. The keyboard isn't full-size, but it's close enough to allow easy and fast typing. Enter and Shift keys are amply sized, and the volume/brightness buttons on top are function-reversed, meaning that they operate directly without requiring a Function button-press.

The multitouch touch pad beneath is wide but very narrow, making for awkward navigation. Two large discrete buttons beneath are generous, but the design would have made a lot more sense as a clickpad, thus saving real estate. We can't expect too much out of a budget Netbook, but Asus' Eee PC touch pads are more comfortably designed. The Synaptics touch-based gestures are varied, but hard to execute on such a small surface area.

The 10.1-inch LED-backlit matte display on the Mini 1103 looks better in direct light than other displays because it foregoes the glossy treatment on the majority of laptops, but the maximum brightness isn't that high. The 1,024x600-pixel native resolution is standard for 10-inch Netbooks, offering easily readable text and clear-quality images and video, but browser windows and document layouts end up with less user real estate. Web browsing suffers the most, especially with multiple toolbars.

Video and audio playback aren't the strong suits of the Mini 1103, nor are they with any Atom processor-based Netbook. The front-facing stereo speakers built into the lower edge of the laptop achieve functional audio, but cap at an insufficiently low volume for Hulu and other movie playback with a wide sound range. The screen on the Mini 1103 has very limited viewing angles, and is best for single-user watching. A VGA Webcam included with the Mini 1103 has average recording and picture quality.

HP Mini 1103 Average for category [Netbook]
Audio Stereo speakers, headphone/microphone combo jack Stereo speakers, headphone/microphone jacks
Data 3 USB 2.0, SD card reader 3 USB 2.0, SD card reader
Expansion None None
Networking Ethernet, 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth Ethernet, 802.11n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth
Optical drive None None

The Mini 1103 has three USB 2.0 ports and an Ethernet port hidden away behind a flap on the right side; it also has Bluetooth, a rarity among budget Netbooks. Also included is a high-speed 7,200rpm 250GB hard drive, a step up and a contributor to zippier file-opening speeds. However, other specs are standard-issue for budget Netbooks: 1GB of RAM and Windows 7 Starter. This Netbook also lacks HDMI-out, so hooking it up to TV could be a hassle.

The single-core Atom N455 CPU is perfectly capable for basic tasks such as Web browsing, e-mail, and office document work, even some light multitasking, but the experience slows down significantly with any added multimedia tasks. Playback of full-screen streaming Hulu and Netflix videos degraded into choppiness while still being technically watchable, depending on your definition of watchable.

Bottom line: all Atom Netbooks are limited computing platforms that are fine as long as your expectations are curbed, and your concerns lie more toward size and budget than all-purpose use. There are no dedicated graphics, but the Mini 1103 could easily play casual Web-based games and the like.

Juice box
HP Mini 1103 Average watts per hour
Off (60%) 0.45
Sleep (10%) 0.59
Idle (25%) 6.31
Load (05%) 14.37
Raw kWh number 23.00
Annual power consumption cost $2.61

Annual power consumption cost
HP Mini 1103

The battery life on the HP Mini 1103 is its best attribute: we got 5 hours and 51 minutes using our video playback battery drain test. That outperformed even the HP Mini 210, which we tested last year. The battery life ranks nearly at the top of all Netbooks, which could seal the deal for consumers looking to avoid frequent recharges.

The HP Mini 1103 comes with a standard one-year warranty. That can be extended up to three years of standard pick up and return warranty service for $99 on HP's small-business Web site (which is a full one-third of the system's original price), or augmented with a variety of other warranty options including accidental damage protection. HP's Web site is relatively easy to navigate, and a toll-free support number is available 24 hours a day.

Jalbum photo conversion test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)

Multimedia multitasking test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
HP Mini 1103

Apple iTunes encoding test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)

Video playback battery drain test (in minutes)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)

Find out more about how we test laptops.

System configurations:

HP Mini 1103
Windows 7 Starter; 1.66GHz Intel Atom N455; 1028MB DDR2 SDRAM 667MHz; 256MB (Shared) Intel GMA 3150; 250GB Hitachi 7,200rpm

Dell Inspiron Duo
Windows 7 Home Premium; 1.5GHz Intel Atom N550 Dual-Core; 2048MB DDR3 SDRAM 1333MHz; 256MB (Shared) Intel GMA 3150; 320GB Seagate 7,200rpm

Samsung NF310-A01
Windows 7 Starter; 1.5GHz Intel Atom N550 Dual-Core; 1024MB DDR2 SDRAM 1066MHz; 256MB (Shared) Intel GMA 3150; 250GB Hitachi 5,400rpm

Acer Aspire One D255-1203
Windows 7 Starter; 1.5GHz Intel Atom N550 Dual-Core; 1024MB DDR3 SDRAM 1066MHz; 256MB (Shared) Intel GMA 3150; 250GB Western Digital 5,400rpm

Asus Eee PC 1015P
Windows 7 Starter; 1.66GHz Intel Atom N450; 1024MB DDR2 SDRAM 667MHz; 256MB (Shared) Intel GMA 3150; 160GB Seagate 5,400rpm


HP Mini 1103

Score Breakdown

Design 7Features 7Performance 7Battery 9Support 7