HP releases $500 Linux netbook onto Aussie market

Local netbook fans are finally getting a little Linux lovin’ from HP. This week sees the Australian launch of the Mini 110 which HP is offering with both Ubuntu and Windows XP.

While Linux has long been on the Mini menu for US and European customers this is the first time that HP’s Australian netbook buyers have been able to order Linux a la carte.

The Linux model of the Mini 110 comes with a 16GB solid state drive 512MB of RAM and a low $499 price tag and will be available only in black.

Ubuntu 8.04 is the underlying OS but sitting atop this is HP’s slick ‘Mi’ (Mobile Internet) desktop shell.

HP’s bespoke Mi desktop for Ubuntu launches with a well-designed ‘home’ page showing your email inbox; a Web page with Google search box a drop-down Bookmarks menu plus thumbnails of your most-visited sites; links to your music and photo libraries; plus buttons to run programs and launch HP’s preloaded Recovery software.

A slew of Linux apps such as OpenOffice and GIMP are preloaded onto the Mini 110 and programs are presented on simplified screens with large icons and tabbed pages under headings such as
Internet Media Utilities Work and Play.

HP also throws in some programs of its own such as the MediaStyle audio/video player and photo
viewer which mimics Apple’s FrontRow.

Even the Settings screen has been customised to give it a friendlier look.

If you’re hankering for a more familiar OS the Windows XP version of the Mini 110 gets a 160GB hard drive 1GB of RAM and your choice of black (available now) white and ‘pink chic’ (available at the end of this month) for $699.

Each of the colours has HP’s eye-catching embossed swirl pattern baked onto the cover however the ‘pink chic’ model gets a floral treatment that’s decidedly feminine.

The rest of the Mini 110 spec is pretty much as you’d expect: Intel’s Atom N280 processor with integrated graphics and a 10.1 inch screen clocked at 1024 x 576 pixels.

The standard three-cell battery is rated at up to three hours although we know from experience that this will be more like 2.5 usable hours at a stretch. $111 will get you the optional BX06 six-cell battery which HP reckons is good for six hours.