capsule review

HP Mini 110

At a Glance
  • HP Mini 110

    PCWorld Rating

[This story updates a previous hands-on with final benchmark scores.]

What do you do when you already have a couple of well-received netbooks? You make another one, of course. And sure as Shadrach, HP is following up on the success of its consumer-friendly Mini 1000 and business-centric Mini 2140 netbooks (not to mention its designer-minded Mini 1000 Vivienne Tam) with the HP Mini 110.

The big difference between the new model and its predecessors is a couple hundred bucks. Available since June of this year, the Mini 110 XP (available in "Black Swirl") sells for $329, while the Linux-based 110 Mi edition starts at $279. Compare those prices with the $549 tag on the Mini 1000 that we reviewed last fall.

The hardware hasn't changed too much: The Mini 110 carries the same N270 Atom CPU, the same 1GB of RAM, the same 160GB hard drive, the same awesomely large 92-percent-of-full-size keyboard--even the same crummy mouse button layout that's been driving me bonkers since HP introduced it on the HP Mini 2133. The new model also comes loaded with a three-cell battery--as did the Mini 1000, which achieved a mediocre battery life of 2 hours, 47 minutes on a charge. In our tests, the Mini 110 survived for 1 minute longer. (Travelers' advisory: Consider popping an extra 40 bones for the BX06 Mini Battery, to pick up a little extra on-the-go gusto.) That's miles hours behind pack leaders such as the Toshiba NB205-310, which posted a magnificent 10-hour run-time. On our WorldBench 6 test suite, the Mini 110 unsurprisingly notched a mark of 33--a hair better than the Mini 1000's original score of 30.

What do you gain and what do you lose with this more affordable model? Well, HP swaps out the multimedia dongle port in favor of a built-in VGA port (plus a built-in RJ-45 ethernet jack for good measure). The sweet-looking speaker grille planted inside the 1000's hinge is absent from the 110, replaced by a horrid-sounding speaker mounted beneath the display. That display offers a 10.1-inch-diagonal image with a native resolution of 1024 by 576, and the slick edge-to-edge plastic cover has has vanished in favor of a big plastic bezel that makes the Mini 110 look like the love child of the Mini 1000 and the Acer Aspire One.

Upgrade options exist, naturally: 802.11b/g not enough, and you want wireless WAN? Done. Wish you could get this netbook in "White Swirl" or "Pink Chic"? It's yours, for a price. Feeling cramped? You can slot in a 250GB hard drive and boost the RAM to 2GB.

I also appreciate the Mini 110's software selection, which is slightly more robust than the usual feeble bloatware. For instance, Syncables allows you to sync five PCs on a network.

Otherwise, this looks like a slightly thicker, economy-class version of last year's model. The 110 measures 10.3 by 6.6 by 1.2 inches and weighs 2.33 pounds, compared to the Mini 1000's 10.3 by 6.6 by 0.99 inches and 2.25 pounds. And that isn't a bad trade-off when you consider the extras inside the machine--and the lower price.

And really, that's what the Mini 110 boils down to: an econobox that delivers just enough of what you need, without spoiling you. You get all the required ports, plus a little extra beef, for a very low price. Not worried about saving maximum money on your next netbook? The HP Mini 5101 does a stand-up job, but neither it nor the Mini 110 can match the value that the Toshiba NB205-310 offers.

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At a Glance
  • PCWorld Rating

    Think of this as the beefier, more economical take of HP's Mini 1000 -- a good overall value notebook.

    Pros

    • Good overall collection of features
    • A good value machine

    Cons

    • Poor battery life
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