Saturday, August 21, 2010

HP Mini 110 Review

Again a long pause, I've been busy the past weeks. But just this week we got our first netbook, the HP Mininote (I personally prefer calling it the HP mininote). First for a quick spec overview. It has a 10.1 inch screen, a 1.66gHz intel atom processor (N455), 1 GB ram, a 250 GB hard drive, and the usual intel integrated graphics (GMA 3150). It comes with windows 7 starter (32-bit). It also has an integrated webcam and microphone. The netbook comes with ample ports, as it has a SD card reader, 3 USB ports, a VGA port, an ethernet port, and a security slot. The netbook comes with a 6 cell li-ion battery. The audio speakers are at the front and the sound is directed towards you and there is one audio jack capable of both audio in/out (though I prefer a separate audio in jack).

I've always wanted to try out netbooks but I never really had the chance, but now I do. First thing I did when I got it was I uninstalled a lot of the non-essential software (it had adobe AIR installed, for some reason) and I got ccleaner and disabled a lot of startup items and cleaned the computer in general. Remembering a post from lifehacker I got batterybar, which makes it easier to view the battery levels since it's right on the taskbar. I stuck with IE8 on the machine but I installed chrome just in case. Recently I've been trying out the latest windows live essentials pack (version 4 beta) specifically the sync feature, as I'm currently trying to sync the netbook with the original laptop. So far I'm not sure whether it's going to go well but it's still syncing at the moment.

The wireless reception seems pretty good on the netbook, maybe because it's all plastic. THe screen is of decent quality, the 480p videos on youtube are pretty viewable and puts the CPU at about 60-70% in general. Any youtube HD video, however, lags on the computer as expected. After getting it I also turned off some of the visual effects but not the windows 7 theme in general. And for some odd reason windows 7 starter won't let you change the destkop background which is kind of annoying.

One thing I've always liked about the hp mininote series is the large keyboard (at least when compared to other netbooks), typing on the keyboard (at least in my opinion) isn't a pain at all. When typing I find the keyboard to be quite accurate and the trackpad is of decent size. I also found it interesting that Hp moved the right and left click buttons from the sides of the trackpad back to the bottom. Another feature I like is that the function keys are actually functional, so there are toggles for brightness, sound, and even play/pause audio settings, as well as a key for toggling wireless on/off. The normal functions of the function keys are used when you hold the fn key, like on a mac. I actually prefer this to the other option where you have to hold the function key to get the brightness adjusted, etc. as it's a lot more efficient.

The order of the lowest row of keys are control, function, windows, alt. I personally prefer this order to function, control, windows, alt. Though I'm not sure why some manufacturers have the function key first and others have the control key.

The battery life of the netbook is pretty good, as I got roughly 6-7 hours of battery life. And I was doing more CPU-intensive things such as watching youtube videos. I've only partially drained the battery once so I'll continue to see how long the battery life of the netbook is.

The netbook doesn't seem to run that hot though then again the outer casing is plastic, which doesn't dissipate heat as well as a metal casing. The outer shell, however, is a fingerprint magnet like a lot of other hp laptops. The power button is actually a slider on the side of the netbook. For some reason it feels flimsy when I slide it to turn on the computer, but it still works decently. The power adapter is comparatively smaller to that of a normal laptop.

Instant on
One interesting feature that accompanies a lot of netbooks is the usage of a quick start setting based on a unix or linux counterpart. I once saw a video on youtube of lenovo's ideapad netbook having this feature and I was pleasantly surprised that the hp mini had it as well. It is based on splashtop and on the hp system is known as "instant on." Basically when you first start up the computer it first shows a very simple interface with basic applications for web browsing, skype, chat, picture, movies, which is useful if you just want to, for example, check your gmail quickly and don't want to start up windows 7. However, when I asked whether it would update if there was a new version of skype available they said no, which was somewhat disappointing.

In the end I find this to be quite a nifty netbook, and I would definitely recommend it. Though up to now I've only owned one netbook thus far but just from looking at this hp mininote it's a fairly capable computer, given the size. Word processing, non-HD youtube watching, PDF viewing, web browsing, are things this netbook does competently, and as for hardware the keyboard feels comfortable, and the screen is of decent size, plus it has an integrated webcam. I've been eyeing the Hp Mininote for a while, and now I know it walks the talk.

Picture Time

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