Over the weekend, I tested the HP Mini 110-1036NR netbook out in the wild. I packed the Mini laptop and three of my kids in a big Timbuk2 backpack and went on 2.5 mile hike. Because my youngest child is only three, we had to cross a scary troll bridge, walk through an enchanted pink forest, and climb up a hot chocolate volcano to get to the rainbow waterfall (we also encountered a fox that tried to swipe my netbook). By the time we hiked from the bottom of the waterfall to the top (620 feet vertically), the kids were exhausted. While my kids rested, drank water, and ate bugs, I took the opportunity to play with the netbook. Below are my initial thoughts on the HP Mini 110-1036NR.
The HP Mini 110-1036NR is a netbook (Internet notebook), which is essentially a teeny weeny laptop designed primarily for wireless communication and access to the Internet. With a netbook, size is more important than bells and whistles. The HP Mini, as expected, is light (less than three pounds) and small (smaller than my kids’ Barbie and Spiderman laptops). It measures about 10″ (L) by 7″ (D) and is about 1″ in height. The screen is only 10.1″ (1024 x 576 resolution). HP could have made the screen bigger, but then the mini-notebook would also be bigger and people don’t want to lug around a suitcase like they did in the dark ages (back then, a portable computer was the size of a chubby tween).
The HP Mini 110-1036NR, like all netbooks, is not a high end computer. It is loaded with Windows XP Home Edition instead of the more resource intensive Microsoft Vista operating system. The Mini does not include a CD or DVD drive (you will have to install software from the Internet, a network drive, or an optional external drive). The built-in speakers are so-so (no bass) and it’s hard to hear the audio when you’re near a waterfall (yeah I know, only a geek would want to listen to music instead of simply enjoying the waterfall). The audio in/out jack is shared (might be a problem for people who use Skype with a non-USB headset). The hard drive on the HP Mini is only 160GB and the pc supports a maximum of 1 gig of memory. [Side note: are there any geek dads and moms out there who remember the era of MS DOS? Back in the old days, you had to walk ten miles in the snow to buy a pc that only had a 40MB hard drive and 1 meg of RAM (for you non-geeks out there, that’s about a thousand times smaller than the memory of the HP Mini).]
The HP netbook comes with a nearly full size keyboard (92% of standard size) and a touch pad with a built-in scroll bar (how did we live without a scroll wheel in the old days?). I found the touch pad easier to use than other laptops I’ve tested. Unlike most laptops, the mouse buttons on the Mini are located to the left and right of the touch pad instead of below it. Obviously, HP designed it this way to reduce the size of the netbook. For me, it would have been more convenient if both buttons were located next to the scroll bar. That would make it easier for right handed people to scroll and click (sorry lefties).
The HP Mini 110-1036NR features a 6-Cell Lithium-Ion battery (lasted about six hours in my test run), wireless networking (did you know Wi-Fi hotspots don’t exist in the wilderness?), and a built-in webcam. I wasn’t able to use the webcam out in the wild because I couldn’t find a link to it on the netbook. I did find the webcam link when I got home (located in the My Computer folder). It would be more helpful if users could launch the webcam from the Start menu or the desktop screen. Below are some photos taken with the webcam:
The Mini comes with Microsoft Works 9.0, Syncables, Microsoft Office 2007 Home and Student Edition (60 day trial), and Symantec Norton Internet Security 2009 (60 day trial). The list price of the HP Mini 110-1036NR is $370 and it comes with a one year warranty.
After using the HP Mini 110-1036NR for several days, I think the Mini would make an excellent notebook for people who are looking for an extremely small laptop. Even though the netbook doesn’t have all the bells and whistles of a high-end pc, it has more than enough power for most bloggers, moms, dads, and students. However, the netbook won’t suit everyone’s needs. For instance, the netbook probably won’t work as the primary computer for hard core gamers or graphics artists. For power users, the HP Mini would make a good campion pc for their main system — especially with the included Syncables software for syncing files across multiple computers.
HP Mini 110-1036NR Specs
- Intel Atom Processor N270
- Windows XP Home Edition with Service Pack 3
- 10.1″ Diagonal SD LED Anti-glare Widescreen Display (1024 x 576)
- Intel Graphics Media Accelerator 950 (shared) with up to 128MB total available graphics memory
- 1024MB DDR2 System Memory (1 Dimm)
- 160GB (5400RPM) Hard Drive (SATA)
- HP Webcam
- 802.11b/g WLAN
- 6-Cell Lithium-Ion battery