GCN LAB REVIEW: NETBOOKS

HP Mini but mighty netbook

HP Mini 5101's enhanced communications features make it ideal for wireless or LAN networking

Netbooks in this review

Netbooks prove worthy of a second look
The Lab tests six netbook models and finds they have outgrown their low-grade reputation.

Dell Latitude on the go
The Dell Latitude 2100 offers extra portability options at a smart price for students.

Fujitsu designed to shine
Fujitsu M2010's bright screen and impressively loud speakers make it a good choice for multimedia use.

HP Mini but mighty
HP Mini 5101's enhanced communications features make it ideal for wireless or LAN networking.

IdeaPad ideal for budget conscious
Lenovo IdeaPad S10-2's low cost and light weight make it a good value for those watching their wallets.

Sony Vaio netbook a multimedia power
The Sony Vaio W-series is a bit pricey at $500, but it has a lot of extra features and would do well for a user who deals with multimedia on a variety of devices with different types of storage.

Toshiba's Mini is the class of the netbook field
The Toshiba Mini NB205 N210 delivered the best performance at the lowest price, and easily won the Reviewer’s Choice for this roundup.

The HP Mini 5101 is the smallest netbook in the review, but it is still one of the best performers. It is only 10.25 inches by 7.25 inches by 1.5 inches, which makes it one of the most portable we tested. Its weight of 2 pounds, 13 ounces is only an ounce away from making the Mini 5101 the lightest in the review.

The Mini 5101’s keyboard was almost luxurious. Each key was spaced 1/8 inch apart from each other. The touchpad could have been bigger, though, and its surface had a little more resistance than what most laptop users might be accustomed to. Nevertheless, the HP was pleasant to use.

The Mini 5101 came with a 160G hard drive, which is about the size one would expect for a netbook. Also, we noted that the wireless client adapter also supports 802.11n draft 2.0, and the local-area network port is 10/100/1000. It is the only netbook in the roundup to have both of those features.

The Mini 5101’s screen was not as bright as others' in the review. It also tended to dim slightly when looked at from an angle, though not by a great deal.

The Intel Atom N280 processor of the Mini 5101 helped produce a benchmark score of 260.1, which is only a few tenths of a point lower than the fastest performer. It lasted 4 hours, 5 minutes in our battery-life testing, which is right in the middle of the group.

The HP Mini 5101 retails for $425, a good price for such an expansive keyboard and enhanced communications features. It would be best suited in an environment with gigabit network connections and/or wireless-N capabilities.

Pros: Large, widely spaced keyboard.
Cons: Touchpad feels unusual.
Performance: A
Battery life: B
Ergonomics: A
Portability: A
Features: B
Value: A-
Price: $425

Hewlett-Packard, 800-334-5144, www.hp.com

About the Author

Greg Crowe is a former GCN staff writer who covered mobile technology.

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