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HP Mini 5102 review: HP Mini 5102

HP Mini 5102

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Dan Ackerman Editorial Director / Computers and Gaming
Dan Ackerman leads CNET's coverage of computers and gaming hardware. A New York native and former radio DJ, he's also a regular TV talking head and the author of "The Tetris Effect" (Hachette/PublicAffairs), a non-fiction gaming and business history book that has earned rave reviews from the New York Times, Fortune, LA Review of Books, and many other publications. "Upends the standard Silicon Valley, Steve Jobs/Mark Zuckerberg technology-creation myth... the story shines." -- The New York Times
Expertise I've been testing and reviewing computer and gaming hardware for over 20 years, covering every console launch since the Dreamcast and every MacBook...ever. Credentials
  • Author of the award-winning, NY Times-reviewed nonfiction book The Tetris Effect; Longtime consumer technology expert for CBS Mornings
Dan Ackerman
6 min read

As the sequel to one of our favorite all-around Netbooks, the HP Mini 5102 has some pretty big shoes to fill. It wasn't HP's choice in components that we liked about its business line 10-inch system--after all, most 2009 Netbooks shared a very uniform set of parts--it was the overall design and build quality of the Netbook we liked

OVR
8.0

HP Mini 5102

The Good

New Intel Atom processor; excellent build quality.

The Bad

Some basic options can quickly drive up the price; small touch pad.

The Bottom Line

HP's sturdy and stylish Mini 5102 is a slight upgrade to one of our favorite Netbooks, but we had hoped for a little more fresh thinking for 2010.

With a body made of aluminum and magnesium alloy, the 5101 felt significantly more rugged than many of the plastic Netbooks it was competing with, and its excellent keyboard layout made typing a breeze. The new version, the 5102, offers only minor cosmetic tweaks, but also more configuration options, including a touch screen.

That means you can create a fairly compelling Netbook using HP's online configurator, but it'll also be an expensive one, as anything above the baseline adds significant cost. At a time when HD displays are becoming the norm, our $424 review unit has only a standard 1,024x600-pixel resolution 10-inch display, along with a single-core Intel Atom N450 processor, Windows 7 Starter Edition, and 1GB of RAM.

With the competition (including HP's own Mini 311 line) regularly offering HD displays and Nvidia Ion graphics for very reasonable prices, we would have liked to see the Mini 5102 make some bolder steps with its new version. As it is, this sequel to our favorite 2009 Netbook feels like just that--a 2009 Netbook.

Price as reviewed $424
Processor 1.66GHz Intel Atom N450
Memory 1GB, 800MHz DDR2
Hard drive 160GB 7,200rpm
Chipset Mobile Intel NM10
Graphics Intel GMA 3150 (integrated)
Operating System Windows 7 Starter
Dimensions (WD) 10.3x7.1 inches
Height 0.9 inches
Screen size (diagonal) 10.1 inches
System weight / Weight with AC adapter 2.5/3.3 pounds
Category Netbook

Looking very similar to last year's Mini 5101 model, the 5102 has a black brushed-metal lid and matte black keyboard and keyboard tray, offset by a glossy touch pad. The overall look of the Netbook is definitely on the business side of the equation, but it's also sleek enough to hold its own at a hipster coffee shop. Though it's not the thinnest or lightest Netbook ever, it feels solid and durable, without being a brick.

We were concerned when HP ditched its previous wide, flat keys for a redesigned pebble-style keyboard in the 5101. The 5102 keeps this new design, and time has shown it to be a good one (although we still have a soft spot for the older design). Important keys, like Shift, are nice and large, and the top row of function keys are reversed--which means the actually useful tasks of controlling volume and screen brightness, and so on, are the primary functions of those keys, while the somewhat more obscure F-key functions require you to hold down the Fn key. It's a swap we've seen on a few laptops recently, and seems like a generally good idea.

The Mini 5101's touch pad is a traditional type, with the mouse buttons located under it--rather than the side mouse buttons and elongated touch pad found on older HP Netbooks. We prefer this style, but at the same time, the touch pad itself is small and its slick surface attracts fingerprints like literally nothing we've ever seen before--therefore it often looks dingy.

The 10.1-inch wide-screen display has a 1,024x600-pixel native resolution, which is the norm for low-end Netbooks. However, as a premium system with a premium price, we'd expect to see an HD 1,366x768-pixel screen as a default (it will be available as an optional upgrade). HP's own Mini 311 includes the HD display for $399.

  HP Mini 5102 Average for category
Video VGA VGA
Audio Headphone/microphone jacks Headphone/microphone jacks
Data 3 USB 2.0, SD card reader 2 USB 2.0, SD card reader
Expansion None None
Networking Ethernet, 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi Ethernet, 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth
Optical drive None None

Our very base model configuration of the Mini 5102 omits Bluetooth, but otherwise offers a standard set of ports and connections for a Netbook. While HP's configuration options are not live yet, the system will offer built-in 3G connections, likely from Sprint, Verzion, or AT&T. More interesting, potentially, is the option for a touch screen. This may be of limited practical application for most users, but it shows the increasing prevalence of touch technology in the laptop industry.

HP includes the Corel Home Office software instead of the usual Microsoft Office trial version, but we're not sure why it would be preferable to the free Open Office suite as a Microsoft Office alternative (the HP employees we asked didn't have any particularly compelling reasons to offer). HP also includes a fairly standard feature from full-size business laptops, a hard drive accelerometer called, in this case, HP 3D DriveGuard.

Intel's new single-core 1.66GHz Atom N450 CPU is the new standard for Netbooks, and while it doesn't really offer any performance gain over the previous generation N270 and N280 Atom processers, it offers greater power efficiency. Our standard Netbook admonitions apply--they're great, as long as one keeps expectations modest, and sticks mostly to Web surfing, e-mail, and working on office documents.

Juice box
HP Mini 5102 Average watts per hour
Off 0.57
Sleep 0.69
Idle 6.93
Load 13.57
Raw kWh 24.72
Annual power consumption costs $2.80

Annual power consumption costs
HP Mini 5102
$2.81 

The HP Mini 5101 ran for 3 hours and 19 minutes on our video playback battery drain test. That's not in the upper echelons of Netbook battery scores, but certainly enough for most on-the-go tasks, especially as the system should last significantly longer under casual use. An optional six-cell battery will be available for $25, which should push you closer to the 6-hour mark.

The system includes a one-year parts-and-labor warranty from HP, although we generally expect business systems to include longer default warranty terms. HP's Web site doesn't have specific warranty upgrade options for this upcoming system listed yet, but based on other HP Netbooks, we'd estimate that upgrading to 3 years of mail-in service will an extra $169, and three years of next business-day onsite service would be $189. Support for HP laptops is accessible 24-7 through a toll-free phone line, as well as HP's Web site that has an online knowledge base and driver downloads.

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

Multimedia multitasking test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
HP Mini 5102
3,076 

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 5102
Windows 7 Starter; 1.66GHz Intel Atom N450; 1,024MB DDR2 SDRAM 800MHz; 248MB (Shared) Mobile Intel GMA 3150; 160GB Seagate 7,200rpm

Acer Aspire One 532h-2326
Windows 7 Home Premium; 1.6GHz Intel Atom N330 Dual-Core, 2,048MB DDR2 SDRAM 2050MHz; 256MB Nvidia ION; 250GB Hitachi 5,400rpm

Acer Ferrari One
Windows 7 Starter; 1.66GHz Intel Atom N450; 1,024MB DDR2 SDRAM 800MHz; 250MB (Shared) Mobile Intel GMA 3150; 250GB Seagate 5,400rpm

Asus Eee PC 1005PE
Windows 7 Starter; 1.66GHz Intel Atom N450; 1,024MB DDR2 SDRAM 800MHz; 251MB (Shared) Mobile Intel GMA 3150; 250GB Seagate 5,400rpm

Toshiba Mini NB305-N410BN
Windows 7 Starter; 1.66GHz Intel Atom N450; 1,024MB DDR2 SDRAM 800MHz; 250MB (Shared) Mobile Intel GMA 3150; 250GB Hitachi 5,400rpm

OVR
8.0

HP Mini 5102

Score Breakdown

Design 9Features 8Performance 7Battery 9Support 6