Saturday, June 18, 2011

HP Mini 1103

The HP Mini 1103 is one of the latest "business class" netbooks on the market to offer extreme portability and battery life for an extremely low price. Is this 10-inch netbook worth $300 from your company's coffers, or should your IT manager spend a little more on a serious laptop?

Our review unit of the HP Mini 1103 features the following specs:

* Windows 7 Starter (32-bit)
* Intel Atom N455 processor (1.66GHz)
* 250GB hard drive (7200rpm)
* 10.1-inch diagonal LED-backlit WSVGA anti-glare (1024 x 600)
* Intel HD integrated graphics
* Broadcom 802.11a/b/g/n and Bluetooth 3.0
* 4-in-1 media card slot
* Dimensions: 10.55 in (L) x 7.52 in (W) x 0.9-1.15 in (H)
* Weight: 2.78 lb with 3-cell battery (not including weight of AC adapter).
* Power: 6-cell 55Wh Lithium-Ion battery
* Warranty: One-year standard warranty
* Price: $299.00

Build and Design
Those familiar with the business-class HP Mini netbooks know that these low-cost ultra-portable laptops have better build quality than what you'll find among the consumer-grade HP Minis. Well, that was the case until the HP Mini 1103 arrived.

At first glance, there is genuinely little that differentiates the new HP Mini 1103 and the consumer-friendly HP Mini 210 HD. The new design of the 1103 features an exterior shell similar to the HP Pavilion dm1z and Pavilion dm3t, but it looks virtually identical to the rest of the Mini lineup. In fact, the only design element that really stands out as possibly being business oriented is the use of matte black plastics on the lower half of the chassis and the keyboard.

Despite the consumer appearance, the build quality is good enough for the average road warrior. I wouldn't recommend using the Mini 1103 outdoors in a rainstorm, but I wouldn't hesitate to toss it in a briefcase or purse and run to a client meeting. When the screen lid is closed the HP Mini 1103 feels sturdy and doesn't show much flex under pressure. The palmrest also offers plenty of support while typing, although adult-sized hands will probably find little room for comfort beneath this tiny keyboard.

One design element that I found particularly interesting (if not particularly useful) is the screen hinge moves all the way back to allow the netbook to open completely flat. I'm just not sure how many people need this feature.

The HP Mini 1103 has the same upgrade friendly design we've seen on multiple HP netbooks and notebooks. Simply remove the battery from the back of the netbook, slide the orange release switch to one side and you can remove the entire bottom plate of the Mini 1103. You only need to use a screwdriver if you plan to remove the hard drive or wireless cards. Simple RAM upgrades require no additional tools. In short, you don't need to have an IT manager to perform basic upgrades.
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