3.5 star rating

HP Mini 110 Review

$329.00
Pros: Excellent keyboard; New color options; Bigger faster hard drive than Mini 1000; Full-size VGA port and added USB port; Loud speakers;
Cons: Awkward mouse buttons; Six-cell battery not standard; No more edge-to-edge glass display;
The Verdict: This fashionable, lightweight netbook improves upon its predecessor with increased speed and more ports.

REVIEW

SPECIFICATIONS

Editor’s note: Portions of this review were taken from our earlier review of the HP Mini 1000.

Article Continued Below

It’s not perfect, but the new HP Mini 110 ($329 as configured) is definitely the company’s best netbook for consumers yet. HP has addressed our biggest complaints with the earlier Mini 1000 (no VGA port, small and slow hard drive), and has added more style to the mix with new color options. On the other hand, the attractive edge-to-edge glass display is gone, and the Mini 110 is thicker and heavier than its predecessor, not to mention that HP still includes awkward vertical touchpad buttons. The HP Mini 110 is a good value, but there are better 10-inch netbooks for the money.

Design

On the outside, the HP Mini 110 looks very similar to the Mini 1000, but is slightly heavier (2.6 pounds versus 2.4 pounds) and thicker (1.3 inches versus 1.0 inches). In addition to the Black Swirl Imprint lid design, HP will make White Swirl and Pink Chic finishes available in July. And, unlike the ASUS Eee PC S101 or the Dell Inspiron Mini 10, its pattern hid our fingerprints. Plus, the glowing blue wireless status lights for the power and wireless on/off switch project a futuristic look.

We quickly noticed that the latest version of this model sits a little higher in back when placed on a desk, thanks to slightly taller rubber feet. We’re assuming this was done to dissipate heat, as the Mini 1000 ran warm.

Keyboard and Touchpad

When we opened the lid, we also noticed that the finish didn’t have the same look and feel as the Mini 1000. This time, HP opted for a different resin for the plastic deck surrounding the excellent 92-percent keyboard, which results in a slightly grittier feel, and a somewhat cheaper look. The right Shift key is full size and placed directly under the Enter key. Additionally, there is a complete row of dedicated function keys. The only keyboard that can hold a candle to HP’s is that of  the Samsung NC10. Some of its keys aren’t as large as those of the Mini 110, but many users may prefer their chunkier feel.

HP Mini 110

The 2.4 x 1.1-inch touchpad is vertically narrow, resulting in a lot of backtracking. Also, still present are the awkward right and left mouse buttons, which straddle the pad vertically. Nevertheless, because we adjusted to the layout in a few hours, we don’t think the touchpad is a deal breaker.

Ports and Webcam

The Mini 110 eschews the annoying VGA adapter port in favor of a full-size VGA port on the right, bringing this machine in line with most other netbooks. We also appreciate the new third USB port (two on the right, one on the left); the 5-in-1 memory card reader and the Ethernet port are on the right side.

HP Mini 110

HP Mini 110

The integrated 0.3-megapixel webcam on our review unit provided decent images in a video call over Skype; our caller could see our face clearly. The microphone, located to the left of the webcam, picked up some background noise, but our caller could hear us just fine without our needing to speak up.

Display and Audio

HP has nixed the edge-to-edge glass display in favor of a traditional bezel (we’re assuming to save on cost). On the plus side, many users will appreciate that this 10.1-inch (1024 x 576) LCD is an antiglare widescreen. The picture was bright and colorful when we streamed an episode of Family Guy, over Hulu. HP will offer a high-def display option (1366 x 768 pixels) for $30 on July 8.

The silver speaker bar on the original Mini 1000 has been replaced with a speaker panel that’s integrated into an area beneath the screen. When we streamed music over Slacker, we were impressed with the volume this tiny netbook pumped out.

Performance

HP Mini 110

Although our configuration of the Mini 110 has the same 1.6-GHz Intel Atom N270 processor and 1GB of RAM as the Mini 1000, the 160GB hard drive is a vast improvement. Not only is it more than twice the size of its predecessor, it spins at a much faster 5,400 rpm, vs. 4,200 rpm.

This translated to a faster boot time (45 vs. 64 seconds when compared to the HP Mini 1151NR) and a better PCMark05 score (1,587 vs. 1,370). We also saw a much higher score in the LAPTOP Transfer Test (copying a 4.97GB folder of mixed media). With the Mini 1000 it took a sluggish 9 minutes and 21 seconds, which is a rate of 9.1 MBps; the Mini 110 notched a rate of 14.6 MBps, just above the netbook average. When we transcoded a 5-minute-and-5-second MPG4 movie to AVI using Handbrake, the Mini 110 took 28:55; that’s just four seconds longer than the Acer Aspire One AOD250, and about 30 seconds shorter than the netbook average.

Heat

We found that the HP Mini 1151NR we recently reviewed ran very hot, measuring temperatures exceeding 110 degrees. The Mini 110, however, was relatively cool, measuring only 82 degrees between the G and H keys on the keyboard. The warmest part of the system was to the left of the touchpad, but that area never exceeded 90 degrees.

New Sync Software

HP ships the Mini 110 with Syncables software, which was designed to enable automatic synchronization of music, pictures, videos, and other files between this netbook and a primary PC. The software works over a local wireless network. We were unable to get Syncables working on a second PC, so we will update this review when we’re able to troubleshoot.

1080P Video Playback Coming Soon

HP Mini 110

Broadcom is mostly known for its wireless cards, but the company will be providing a jolt to the Mini 110’s video playback capabilities come July. That’s when HP will offer a $30 optional Crystal HD Enhanced Video Accelerator, which will enable users to enjoy 1080p content when the netbook is connected to an external display.

That may be a compelling feature for some, but we think it would be more compelling if the Mini 110 had an HDMI port. And, unlike Nvidia’s Ion graphics, which will find a home inside the Lenovo IdeaPad S12 in August, this video accelerator won’t help you transcode video faster or play mainstream 3D games.

Battery Life and Wireless

The Mini 110’s 802.11b/g radio delivered fast throughput in our preliminary tests, notching 21.2 Mbps at 15 feet from our access point. That’s nearly 3 Mbps faster than the category average, and on a par with the Mini 1000. At 50 feet, the Mini 110 had a throughput of 14.4 Mbps, about 1 Mbps below average.

The HP Mini 110 comes with a standard 3-cell battery that delivered 2:45 of battery life—the average for 3-cell netbooks—on the LAPTOP Battery Test (Web surfing via Wi-Fi).

UPDATE: After receiving the 6-cell battery (which will be available to consumers on June 10), we ran the LAPTOP Battery Test, and found that it lasted for 5:36, just a few minutes short of the 6-cell netbook average. Considering that the 6-cell battery costs $40—bringing the starting price of $329 up to a still-reasonable $369—it's worth springing for the extra endurance.

Configurations

Like many other netbooks, the Mini 110 comes with Windows XP Home Basic preinstalled; a lower-priced configuration with a 32GB SSD will also be available, as will a mobile broadband option for $125. HP will also offer the Mini 110 with its tailored version of Ubuntu Linux (called Mobile Internet Experience). This version of the Mini 110 (starting at $279) will be able to accommodate up to 1GB of RAM and a 160GB hard drive. HP is also releasing a Mini 1101 model, which is aimed at business users. The Mini 1101 starts at $329 and will have more business friendly software and hard drive options up to 250GB.

Software and Warranty

HP Mini 110

In addition to the Syncables Mobile desktop, the Mini 110 comes preloaded with a bunch of applications, including Symantec Norton Internet Security 2009, Back On Track Recover software, LifeLock identity protection, HP Games (from Wild Tangent), Pandora, Snapfish, Skype, and AOL Instant Messenger. The system is backed by a one-year warranty and one year of 24/7 toll-free technical support. Click here to see how HP fared in our Tech Support Showdown.

 

Verdict

Assuming the 6-cell battery on the Mini 110 gets close to the 6-hour runtime claim, the Mini 110 will be one of the better netbook bargains at $369. We’re still not fans of the vertical touchpad buttons, but HP has made several welcome improvements while still delivering one of the best netbook keyboards around. It's up to you to decide if the Mini 110's slightly heavier and bulkier design--and less striking display--is worth having a VGA port, an extra USB port, and a cooler-running system.

Tags: HP Mini 110, HP Mini, HP, netbook, notebooks, reviews, laptops

Technical Specifications
HP Mini 110
http://www.hp.com


The central processor unit, or CPU, is the brain of your notebook.
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CPU
1.6 GHz Intel Atom N270
Operating SystemMS Windows XP Home
The amount of memory our reviewed configuration comes with.
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RAM
1GB
The maximum amount of memory this notebook supports.
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RAM Upgradable to
1 GB
Amount of data your storage drive can hold.
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Hard Drive Size
160GB
The rotation speed of a mechanical hard drive.
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Hard Drive Speed
5,400rpm
Your notebook’s storage drive (hard drive or solid state drive) holds your operating system, your programs, and your data.
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Hard Drive Type
SATA Hard Drive
Your notebook display is the primary viewing device for your laptop computer.
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Display Size
10.1
The number of pxiels (wxh) displayed on your screen at once.
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Native Resolution
1024x576
An optical drive allows you to play or record to DVDs, CDs, or Blu-ray discs.
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Optical Drive
The speed of the optical drive.
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Optical Drive Speed
Graphics chips are responsible for processing all images sent to your computer’s display.
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Graphics Card
Intel GMA 950
The amount of memory available for graphics processing.
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Video Memory
128MB
Wi-Fi connects you to a router or hotspot for wireless Internet access.
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Wi-Fi
802.11b/g
Bluetooth allows you to connect to wireless devices such as headsets, smart phones, and speakers.
Bluetooth
Mobile broadband connects you to the Net from anywhere, even places with no hotspot.
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Mobile Broadband
Ports allow you to connect to external devices such as monitors, printers, MP3 players, and hard drivse.
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Ports (excluding USB)
Ethernet; Headphone; Microphone; VGA
USB ports allow you to connect many external devices, from MP3 players to external hard drives.
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USB Ports
3
Card readers allow you to plug memory and expansion cards directly into a notebook.
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Card Slots
5-1 card reader
Warranty/SupportOne year limited/24/7 toll-free phone
Size10.3 x 6.8 x 1.3 inches
Weight2.6 pounds
AUTHOR BIO
Mark Spoonauer, Editor-in-Chief
Mark Spoonauer, Editor-in-Chief
Responsible for the editorial vision for Laptopmag.com, Mark Spoonauer has been Editor in Chief of LAPTOP since 2003 and has covered technology for nearly 15 years. Mark speaks at key tech industry events and makes regular media appearances on CNBC, Fox and CNN. Mark was previously reviews editor at Mobile Computing, and his work has appeared in Wired, Popular Science and Inc.
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