HP refreshes netbook line with new Mini 110 and 1101

HP won plenty of praise for its Mini 1000 netbook. But the lack of a VGA port limited storage and a too-high price tag were all roundy criticised and  prevented the Mini 100 from reaching its potential on the sales charts.

At the same time buyers at the upper end of the netbook segment are looking for premium features such as HD-capable graphics and integrated 3G.

So in its mid-year refresh to the Mini 1000 line HP is putting a dollar each way. The Mini 110 is a budget-minded build of the Mini 1000 which cuts a few corners in order to cut the price tag although some of the losses are to be cheered.

Most worth of a hearty ‘hurrah’ is HP’s decision to drop the proprietary multimedia connector (which we panned it our review) and bring back the standard VGA connector.

Count that as a win for mobile professionals business users students and anyone else who wants to hook their netbook up to a projector or external monitor without stumping up some $150 for HP’s ‘Mini VGA adaptor cable’.

A new colour and pattern combo for the Mini 110 is this elegant silver-toned ‘white swirl’

The hard disk also gets a boost both in speed and size. For the former the Mini 110 spins at 5400rpm compared to the Mini 1000’s 4200rpm. That difference is barely noticeable in everyday casual everyday use – it’s not as if you’ll be doing video edits and real-time rendering on this tiny tot – but Speed Is Good.

More welcome is that the disk size has been boosted from the Mini 1000’s meagre 80GB to a standard 160GB drawing it level with most competitors. Depending on which OS you order the hard disk can be swapped for a 32GB solid state disk which is relatively rare for a 10.1 inch netbook or bumped up to 250GB.

The Mini 110 also picks up a few options missing from its big brother. First on the tick-a-box list is a Broadcom HD graphics chip (we’re not sure if this is the same one slated for Intel’s second-gen Atom ‘Pinetrail’ platform) which HP says can pump the pixels at 1080p although the 10.1 inch display is still clocked at a standard 1024 x 576 pixels rather than a high-def ratio. The Mini 110 can also be ordered with an inbuilt 3G HSPDA modem.

And yes you can also get your HP netbook in pink – or ‘pink chic’ to quite the colour chart…

New to the Mini mix and standard on the Mini 110 is a bespoke version of the Syncables Desktop software for synchronising documents media bookmarks and more between the Mini 110 and your regular desktop or laptop.

The Mini 110 still has the same excellent keyboard as the Mini 1000 – and yes the same awkward layout of mouse buttons on either side of the trackpad -and the same base platform on Intel’s Atom N270 processor and 1GB of factory fitted RAM which is user-upgradable to 2GB.

For a more understated or business-like look black is hard to best

But to keep down the cost of entry HP’s made a few changes to the build. The classy edge-to-edge display has been swapped for a thick and ungainly plastic bezel – a definite backwards step in terms of the design aesthetic. Likewise the striking top-mounted speaker grille has been deep-sixed and the speaker relocated to the bottom of the Mini 110’s case.

In the US the Mini 110 will ship with either Windows XP or in HP’s Ubuntru-based Mi edition. The Linux variant will start at US$280 with 2GB of RAM and a 250GB hard drive. The Windows XP model kicks off from US$330 with 1GB of RAM and your choice of a 32GB SSD or 160GB hard drive.

As for the Mini 1101 this is a more sombre business version of the Mini 110 with lacks the optional HD graphics chip but an be ordered with Windows XP Professional (instead of the default XP Home edition) Windows Vista or without any OS at all. Prices start at US$330.

Now we just have to wait and see which models end up on our shores and how much they’ll cost…