This article will cover the functional design of the HP Mini 1000 netbook and benchmark this device with its successor the HP Mini 110, which is reviewed by Clinton Fitch. I’m really curious to find out what HP has changed in the design and functionality of this great compact but powerfull netbook.
Readers of my personal blog might remember the article last year: “CntrStg the place-to-be during CES 2009 (Las Vegas)!” in which I explaind the goal and background of the CntrStg-event. It certainly was the place to be and for me it was a great place to spend time to make new friends and catch-up with old friends.
But it got even better, since just after the CntrStg event I received the great news that I became the fourth winner of a HP Mini 1000 netbook, awesome! I’m really looking forward to the next edition, since it solves a lot of problems of writing from these large tech events, and certainly not for the give-aways!
After using this HP Mini 1000 first in the standard configuration, I used it for testing Windows 7 (build 7000) and Windows 7 RC (build 7100). I will share my thoughts and expriences about both the use of the HP Mini 1000 and some modifications I did, and in a later follow-up article about the the ongoing use of Windows 7 on this device.
Clinton Fitch, Windows Mobile MVP & Editor in Chief of Clinton Fitch (Dot) Com, has recently published a great review about the HP Mini 110 (HP Mini 1000 successor) in the article: “Review of the HP Mini 110 Netbook PC“. I will use his review as a benchmark tool, to see what has changed in the functional design between these two at first sight equally looking models.
Let’s start first with having a detailed look at the hardware and functional design combined with the review above as a benchmark tool to look at some differences.
HP Mini 1000 hardware- & functional design
Let’s start with a reference to a detailed overview with specifications of the HP Mini 1000 with product number FT313UA#ABA. This will give you the feeling of what the HP Mini 1000 has to offer.
HP Mini 1000 “sides-tour”
On the front there are two slider buttons with a build-in led in the round part. The left slider button is to turn the HP Mini 1000 on, and has a white LED embedded. Right next to the slider you can find an LED for showing harddisk-activity, and one LED which shows the if the HP Mini 1000 is connected to the power supply or not.
Furthermore you can find on the front edge the second slider button which is for control of the wireless connections Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. With one sliding gesture you can turn these wireless radio’s on and off. The build-in LED shows blue light when the wireless radio’s are on and red light when the radio’s are turned off.
In comparison with my Lenovo X60 tablet and other business notebooks there is no locking mechanism to lock the screen in the closed situation. However the screen closes very well and there is just a ver small gap between the two parts of the HP Mini 1000 netbook.
On the HP Mini 110 a slight change in the design can be noticed. Between the two slider buttons you will find a number of slits, which are not present on the HP Mini 1000. This change in functional design is probably made for a better air flow and being able to cool the Intel Atom N270 Processor (running on 1.6 GHz) more efficiently. However it’s a first noticable change in the design.
Looking at the right side of the HP Mini 1000 you first notice an embedded 5-in-1 multimedia-card reader. Above this multimedia-card reader you will notice 5 slits, probably to transport some heat out of the HP Mini 1000. The 5-in-1 multimedia-card reader holds a Transcend 16 GB class 6 SDHC card, on which I keep some personal data on an encrypted partition and use it for locally backing-up important documents. The 60 GB harddisk however provides enough space to load the neccesary software on the HP Mini 1000.
Second there is one USB 2.0 port on the right side, to connect a printer or removable storage drive. In addition you can see a removable lid, which is to connect the HP Mini Mobile Drive if you own the HP Mini 1000 in an SSD-configuration. With the HP Mini Mobile Drive you can plug-in additional storage in addition to the build-in SSD. If I’m informed correctly, the HDD-configurations don’t have the needed connections on the mainboard to use this functionality. And honeslty with the use of the 5-in-1 multimedicard reader it would be a little over the top.
Finally on the right side there is a special designed edge to connect a lanyard to the HP Mini 1000. I really wouldn’t do this myself, and I prefer to carry the HP Mini 1000 in a high quality Waterfield Sleevecase which custom fits the HP Mini 1000.
Comparing the right side of the HP Mini 1000 with the HP Mini 110, we can see that HP Engineers have done more changes in the functional design. The right side of the HP Mini 110 has two USB 2.0 ports (instead on just one), and furthermore the Ethernet port and a VGA port to hook up the HP Mini 110 to a beamer or external screen.
At first I think it’s a good job that HP has opted for a standardized VGA-port instead of the proprietary port and cable which are implemented on the HP Mini 1000. Despite it is an optional accessorie this kind of functionality should be standard for the travelling professional. Furthermore by adding an additional USB-port and moving the Ethernet-port to the right side edge the overall design becomes more balanced, while the left side edge on the HP Mini 1000 is a little packed.
Tha backside of the HP Mini 1000 doesn’t have any connectors for peripherical devices, and almost the whole width is taken by the rotating mechanism for the screen / upper part of the netbook. In short nothing special on the backside !
The leftside of the HP Mini 100 is pretty packed and on the left you can see the connector for the power supply and a second USB 2.0 port. In the middle there are a number of slits which are used for the air outflow of the fan to keep the processor, memory and harddisk of the HP Mini 1000 nice and cool.
Now we come to a special part of the HP Mini 1000, which is a proprietary port to hook up this machine with an External monitor or beamer. And despite that HP offers an accessoiry called the HP Mini VGA cable, I think that HP had to include this cable in the box or should have implemented the more standard VGA port.
The functionality to connect the HP Mini 1000 to an external monitor or beamer is a basic feature for the mobile professional. Luckily the HP engineers have listened to the feedback and changed this part in the functional design of the HP Mini 110 as well.
Next to this proprietary port you can find a 3.5 mm jack to connect your headphones or a microphone to the HP Mini 1000 and finally covered behind a rubber flap there is an Ethernet port on the left side edge of the HP Mini 1000.
The bottom of the HP Mini 1000 is characterized by the 3-cell battery which provides the device with enough power to work approximately 3 – 4 hours but keeping the overall size compact. Rob Bushway from Gottabemobile.com did a nice comparison between the 3-cell and 6-cell extended battery: “GBM Shortcut: Hands On With HP’s Mini 1000 6-Cell Battery“
Although I have bought an extended battery for the Lenovo X60 tablet I doubt if I will do for the HP Mini 1000.
The first argument is the price of the battery compared to the HP Mini 1000’s price (byuing a new battery vs buying a new HP Mini).
The second argument is that the 3-cell battery keeps the overall formfactor very compact and sleek, while the 6-cell battery adds more volume.
The third argument is does the 6-cell bettary provided significant more battery performance, resulting in a noticable difference in working time (amount of mAh vs time on battery).
Clinton Fitch answers some of the questions above in his review of the HP Mini 110:
“HP sent me a 6-cell battery which provided me nearly 8 hours of life while testing versus the 3-cell which provides an advertised 3 hours of life. The 6-cell battery does add some weight to the unit and it protrudes about 1/2″ from the base of the unit. This, however, is a good thing in that it tilts the unit up at the rear and provides a more ergonomic typing experience.”
The nearly 8 hours of battery life are impressive and combined with the more ergonomic tilt it certainly is an option to consider. However I’m still balancing on three thoughts, compact design vs batterylife improvement vs pricepoint.
Furthermore there is a removable lid to access the RAM-memory via an extremly clever designed mechanism. You don’t need any special tools or screwdrivers, and you can exchange or upgrade the memory easily within half a minute.
Personally I have upgraded the memory of the HP Mini 1000 to 2 GB and used the tutorial by Xavier Lanier from Notebooks.com: “HP MIni 1000: How to Upgrade RAM in Less Than 20 Seconds (video)” My feeling is that things like the Windows Aero interface run more smooth on the HP Mini 1000 and it helps CPU intensive applications like Microsoft Outlook 2007 Ultimate.
Finally the bottom of the HP Mini 1000 has four rubber feet, which provide a great grip of the device on a slippery surface.
HP Mini 1000 opened and ready for use
When the HP Mini 1000 is closed and you look on top of the device, you will see a black surface with a very cool silver design in it and a HP logo in the upper left corner. While the overall black finish gives the device a kind of business look the silver design breaks this a little bit. Don’t get me wrong the design is great and makes the netbook a little personal. Would be cool if you could a your custom design on the back of the screen.
About the keyboard on the HP Mini 1000 I just can fully agree with Clinton Fitch’s conclusions about the keyboard on the HP Mini 110:
“The keyboard on the 110 is fantastic and is by far the best Netbook keyboard I have used to date – and one of the best for a Notebook for that matter. It is 92% of full size and provides a comfortable typing experience with good feedback during typing. The keyboard is more logically laid out in my opinion with the left and right Shift keys bigger and easier to use. This has been on of my biggest complaints about other Netbooks and I’m glad to see HP has well-and-truly simply shrunk a QWERTY keyboard, not re-arranged it to make it fit.”
Also the size of the keys contributes to the great overall typing experience on the HP Mini 1000, and despite the keys seem to look flat these are slightly ergonomically curved. The point from Clinton Fitch about the bigger left and right shift keys is certainly true, and I could compare this first hand with an Asus EEE 701 and 901 machine.
Finally there is just one thing that I don’t like about netbook keyboards in general. On ym Lenovo X60 tablet I do have dedicated hardeware keys for “Home”, “End”, “PgUp” and “PgDn” but on the HP Mini 1000 (and all other netbooks) you need to access these commands via Fn + arrowkey.
Under the hardware keyboard you can see the touchpad, which also has some new design aspects. While we are used to have the left and right mouse button below the touch pad, these buttons are now positioned on the left and on the right side of the touchpad. You really get easily used to this “new” set-up and furthermore on the right side of the touchpad there is a vertical scroll bar, which allows you to scroll down webpages and documents easily.
Since I do use a black Microsoft Bluetooth 5000 mouse with the HP Mini 1000 I can turn off the touchpad completely by pressing the small backlight button between the keyboard and the touchpad. If turned off the LED shines red, and this implementation shows that sometimes small improvements count in the overall product design.
Furthermore there are two items I want to address about the HP Mini 1000: (1) the screen, and (2) the webcam.
“The 10.1″ display of the Mini 110 is fantastic as well. I found the screen easy to view in low or moderately bright light situations and the larger screen eased eye strain. I highly recommend that if you are considering a Netbook to not compromise and get a 10″ screen over an 8″ one. Your eyes will thank you later.”
I do fully agree with Clinton Fitch on this one, since the 10.1″ screen offers an acceptable 1024 x 600 resolution. Ok it would be awesome strive for even a higher resolution, but more powerfull applications like Adobe PhotoShop or AutoDesk AutoCAD where you need a large screen and high resolution you won’t use very often on a netbook.
Despite I’m not a (heavy) webcam user there might be some concerns about the quality of the webcam in less-light-condictions. For me personally this is not a problem because I rarely use it, but it certainly is a problem noticed by different websites. A good article that summarizes the dynamics and probable cause of the problem is written by Judie Lipsett from GearDiary in “An HP Mini Note Webcam Fix On the Way?”
“The built-in webcam on the Mini 110 does a great job as well. I found that it worked quite well with Live Messenger as well as Cisco Video Advantage (which I use for my corporate work) with no issues with either application. Video quality was quite good in normal lighting situations while it did suffer a bit in low light situations. All-in-all though I’ll take it. Having the camera built-in means there is one less thing I have carry with me when I travel.”
Overall conclusions and thoughts to wrap-up
The HP Mini 1000 is an extremely compact, nice and versatile machine to work on, and the complementary reviews of Julie Strietelmeier from The-Gadgeteer.com, and Joel Evans from Geek.com are certainly recommended (in addition to the review of Clinton Fitch).
Since I mainly use the HP Mini 1000 when I travel there might be one feature that I do miss, embedded 3G, despite I always take my Huawei E160 dongle with me all the time. Darren Humphries, Windows Mobile MVP and Editor and MobileJaw has covered this in his news item: “Rogers Introduces Canada’s First 3.5G Embedded Netbooks“
“The HP Mini 110 netbooks now available include embedded mobile broadband technology to connect to the Web [...] offering customers the freedom to choose when and where they enjoy a true broadband Internet experience. With download speeds up to 7.2 Mbps, Rogers mobile Internet ready netbooks deliver the ultimate convenience and productivity for work or play online with just a few clicks – no need to search for WiFi or wired access.”
Despite this comment I certainly will advise the HP Mini 1000 (or HP Mini 110) to you readers, since it is one of the best designed netbooks I have used. The great keyboard, and the option to get 8 hours of battery life with the extended 6-cell battery are very attractive for the mobile professional today. The 10.1″ screen and almost all possible connectivity options make the HP Mini 1000 a very complete and usable solution.
Furthermore Rob Tillotson from The-Gadgeteer.com has written a cool artile “HP Mini 1000 Netbook – Running Linux“, in which he shares his experiences loading Ubuntu on the HP Mini 1000. This fact also adresses one point about the operating system on the HP Mini 1000, as described by Clinton Fitch in his review:
“From an Operating System perspective the Mini 110 comes loaded with Windows XP Professional which is a bit of a disappointment given the age and the flexibility that Windows Vista offers. However, because of the limited amount of memory the Mini – and every other Netbook – has, Vista simply is not a good option from a performance perspective. Thankfully Microsoft will be releasing a version of Windows 7 for NetBooks and while you won’t be able to get upgrade pricing, you can get a more secure and feature rich OS experience when it is released. I nor HP make any claim Windows 7 will work flawlessly on the Mini 110 but having used Windows 7 RC 1 on a similarly configured Netbook from Acer, I expect there to be no problems.”
As pointed out in the introduction I have been using the HP Mini 1000 for testing Windows 7 beta (build 7000) and Windows 7 RC 9build 7100) and in a follow-up article I will share my thoughts and experiences on running Windows 7 on a netbook like the HP Mini 1000.
Finally I would like to compliment HP Engineering for listening to customer feedback and use it this feedback in the product development of the next itteration of the HP Mini 1000 (which happens to be the HP Mini 110). HP also brings software innovations to the HP Mini 110 (netbook platform with their Syncables desktop solution. Mixing the facts of Clinton Fitch’s review as a benchmark clearly shows that HP Engineering has applied various product changes for a better functional design of the HP Mini family !
Interested ? You should certainly vistit the Back to School website and make a chance to win one of the latest HP Machines and more !!