Monday, 6 September 2010

HP Mini 110-3000sa

Introduction
HP has come up with many versions of their more popular Mini notebook until today. It started off with their 110 netbook which supports Intel Atom's N270 and now the Intel Atom N450. Recently, they have began shipping the 210 versions which will enable a single charge to last up to 11 hours taking into account that the specifications are similar to their Mini 110 counterpart. That is just simply amazing. However, it is noted that the Mini 210 is relatively more expensive than their Mini 110 counterpart so it depends on how much you are paying for it though.

Mini 110-3000sa
I had the opportunity to own my very first netbook. I used to say that the netbook is just not useful but with the time lapse, I do find that the netbook is quite useful in the sense that it is light and the specification is some how not as good as a notebook but it will not break your bank account! Moreover, you do get lots of features which comes with it so I am going to tell you all about it.

Hardware
The HP Mini 110-3000sa comes with a 10.1" TFT screen which supports 1024x600 resolution. It has a 1.3MP front facing camera for video conferencing (with microphone just beside the video cam) and an ingenuis indication lights on the keyboard to inform users as to whether the speaker volume is muted, is the caps lock engaged or if the wi-fi is switched on. There are also indication lights on the left hand side, one for the hard drive activity and another for the charging status.

I do quite like the keyboard. It is spacious and quite comfortable to use. I did not find any pain on my wrists after using it for a long period of time. HP has done it again with their remarkable netbook!

There are no buttons on the front but two vents to dispurse heat. There is only one mono speaker on the right hand side of the vent. The speaker could not be able to produce great sound even though it is loaded with IDT's high definition sound card. Perhaps HP is not keen in having more than one speaker on the netbook to save energy.

On the left hand side, you will find one speaker jack for headphone but it does not come with a microphone jack. There is also a usb 2.0 just beside the speaker jack and followed by a heatsink spreader. Besides that, there is also a VGA out and a power jack.

There is nothing at the back of the netbook. On the left hand side of the netbook, you will see that there are two usb 2.0 standing out followed by an on/off switch. You will find a 2-in-1 memory card reader which could only handle SD and MMC cards. I don't think that the memory card reader can only take these two cards because from my experience with HP, they will be able to accept xD card too. I will try it later.

I have been waiting for this time to tell you guys. The best part of the netbook is at the bottom. Do you know why? That is because there are no screws to remove the back door as it is being replaced by a vanity door. To remove the back door, users would only need to remove the battery and then you will see a notch just beside the battery door. Push the notch to the left and the whole back door will be removed. That is just one clever idea from HP. I do hope that Dell will take this into account as their Mini 10v are very hard to dissemble! Well, Dell designed laptops and also netbook are just too difficult for an average person to get their hands into. HP is making a name for themselves at the moment!

Before I move on to the bundled software, lets proceed with the rest of the hardware. The unit is powered by an Intel Atom N450 cpu and there is only one slot for a DDR2 SODIMM memory. I have checked that the memory slot will only take up to a maximum of 2GB as the netbook refused to boot up when I've tried to load up a 4GB DDR2 SODIMM memory chip. That is just unfortunate because the netbook could be an alternative to the Ipad at anytime!

The HP Mini 110-3000sa is equipped with a 160GB SATA II 5400rpm Western Digital hard drive and bluetooth 2.0 with EDR. The graphics engine is powered by an Intel GMA 3150 chip which I found out that playing HD video clips at 720p was choppy but not necessary hard to view though. Viewing video clips at 480p would be just fine though.

The onboard 1GB DDR2 SODIMM memory from ADATA is just not good enough as I would suggest users upgrading to 2GB DDR2 SODIMM. Bear in mind that users should buy it without  any delay as the price of 2GB DDR2 SODIMM has increased 50% over the past 12 months, thanks to the ready and much better DDR3 memory. Don't forget that the graphics card is using the physical memory of the netbook (up to 256MB). With 1GB physical memory, it is just insufficient so it is best to upgrade to 2GB.

Operating System
The HP Mini 110-3000sa comes with Windows 7 Starter. The only thing which annoys me is that I could not change the background at all. I would have to stick to the default desktop. What a pity. Overall, booting up from cold would take around 55 seconds and it would be around 120 seconds before you are ready to use the netbook. I do believe that the delay is caused by HP's own softwares which will run in the background. If you do uninstall many of the unecessary softwares, you will find that your netbook will run much faster as I have tried it since yesterday.

Connection is not a problem since it comes with wireless N. I have not experienced any drop signals at all. I was quite happy to see that there were many updates to the Windows 7 Starter and bluetooth started running at the background. Installation of programmes are reasonably fast and I have not experienced any abnormal delays. This is the case taking into account that the cpu is merely an Atom N450 - A single core cpu with hyperthreading running at 1.66Ghz. With the Mini 110, it came with Norton Antivirus for Netbook but I have decided to uninstall it and use other antivirus programmes instead.

Evaluation
I like the presentation of the HP Mini 110-3000sa box. It is slim and classy. I also like the way in which the netbook is being transported - two supporting cardboards holding on to the Mini 110. This is a better way of transporting a netbook or a laptop as it will minimise damage during transit.

The 3 cell battery is somehow short of the manufacturer's claim of 4.5 hours with a single charge. As far as I am concern, the battery can only last 3 hours the most under minimal usage (i.e. using word processor only). I would think that the a 6 cell battery will be much better as it will last 8 hours with a single charge. With the 6 cell battery, it will not increase the netbook's weight by too much though. I have checked on HP's website and at the moment, they are having a massive sale and it cost only £53 for a 6 cell battery. Is it worth while to buy it? Oh yes, it does!

I do quite like to use the comfortable keyboard but there is only one thing which I don't like - the arrow button. They are all extra small, located just below the right Shift button. The trackpad is excellent! I have no problems in me accidentally moved a mouse cursor, unlike on my Dell Studio 1555.

There are only two things which I don't like about the netbook - The mono speaker and the netbook's fan. As there is only one speaker, you would not expect it to produce a good sound, that is for sure. The netbook's fan is always switched on by default irrespective of whether there is a need for it or not. I do feel that the fan should be a little bit quieter. I do find that the Samsung N150P is very quiet and the battery can last up to 11 hours with a single charge!!!

Having said that, I do quite like the HP Mini 110. It is fast enough for everyday use and it is light. Perhaps a flash of the BIOS will improve on the fan noise but I doubt whether it could be done. Overall, it is a good piece of kit!

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