HP / Compaq Mini 311 - Ion Netbook - Review and Owners Thread

Stelph

Active Member
I couldnt see a thread here so I thought id start a thread! Unfortunatly I missed out on the pre-xmas offer where the 3G enabled version was going for £248 including Quidco but I was lucky enough to get hold of a brand new and boxed standard version from ebay for £250 including warranty. Previously I have owned an Eee PC 701 and 901 and played with my girlfriends macbook so its those laptops that im comparing this to

Here are the specs:

• Genuine Windows® XP Home Edition with Service Pack 3(1)
• Intel® AtomTM Processor N270(3) • 1.60GHz(4) • 512KB L2 • 533Mhz FSB(4a)
• 1024MB DDR3 System Memory (1 Dimm) • Max supported =3072MB
• NVIDIA ION LE for Windows XP with up to 319MB total graphics memory
• 160GB (5400RPM) Hard Drive (SATA)(7)
• HP Black Swirl Imprint finish & HP Webcam with integrated digital microphone(15)
• 11.6″ Diagonal HD LED(8) BrightView Widescreen Display (1366 x 768)
• Integrated 10/100BASE-T Ethernet LAN (RJ-45 connector) (9)
• 802.11b/g WLAN(10a)
• 5-in-1 integrated Digital Media Reader for Secure Digital cards, MultiMedia cards, Memory Stick, Memory Stick Pro, or xD Picture cards(17a)
• Altec Lansing Speakers
• 92% full sized keyboard • touchpad with scroll zone
• Touch Pad with dedicated vertical Scroll Up/Down (note: no on/off button)
• 3 Universal Serial Bus (USB) 2.0
• Headphone-out/Microphone in combo jack (compatible with 3.5mm 4-conductor jack with stereo audio and mono mic)
• HDMI
• 1 VGA (15-pin) • 1 RJ -45 (LAN)

First Impressions
Initial impressions when it turned up were very good, packaging wise I think HP have done a really good job with the simplistic "shoe box" style box that the HP came in (pretty red colours :) ), although its a shame that HP dont include any back up DVD's in case you need to re-install anything (although I think you can contact them to get a DVD sent out to you). The netbook itself seems very high quality, the black lid looks very nice although I recon the shiney surface would be a massive fingerprint magnet.

When you open the netbook up it seems to get even better, I very much like the keyboard that, even though it is not full size, is very easy to type on and the keys travel well so I find touch typing at speed quite easy. The screen is excellent, really sharp and clear, and I am a big fan of the wifi button that is to the top right of the keyboard which you can press to turn the wifi on (lights up blue) and off (lights up orange), useful for saving power on the go! The touchpad does feel a little odd but it is usable, and it is also multitouch so it supports two finger scrolling which is a big plus, and again although the buttons under the touchpad are a little stiff and clicky again they are usable

On the outside the card reader is a good addition, I am glad that all my devices (phone, camera ect) are all mico/mini/SD cards so I shouldnt have any problems there. The HDMI port is also a big boon as I am planning to use this as a media center at home, plugged into my HDTV

In General use
Basically works as well as atom netbook/nettop, takes a while to boot up initially but once you have removed the boatware (admitably not so many as sony seem to ship with thier vaio pc's) it seems to run along fine. In general use (web surfing, emailing ect) the Netbook seems to work as well as any atom powered netbook. Battery life seems ok, I have been pounding it pretty hard so far by installing and playing games ect but so far something between 3-4 hours seems about right (and conforms with reviews I have seen) which is ok. Once I have gone through a couple of full charge/discharge cycles I will retest the battery life

Gaming
Personally this is why I bought the netbook, I am not a hardcore gamer and I would not recommend any hardcore gamer to have this as their only gaming rig, however I do enjoy the odd blast on some of the older games that are out there, and also a few of the Indie games that you can get. So I was very happy that installing steam was a breeze and seems to run fine (a good selection of indie games and gets round the no DVD drive problem), and I was especially please to find out that Medieval: Total War 2 installs and runs well! (see video link below I found on youtube)

YouTube - Hp Mini 311 ion gaming medieval 2 total war

Heres a list of games that have been tested on the HP mini, also try searching youtube as there are several videos of people testing games

Official HP Mini 311 Compatible Games and Apps • MyHPMini.com

Video Playback
Not tried this yet, will update later after ive tried Boxee/XBMC ect but as it is essentially a single core atom with the ION core chipset then it should work as well as the Acer Revo (if not better due to the DDR3 Ram)

Upgrading
Seems very easy to upgrade, two screws are all you need to undo in order to access all the upgrade options of
- Easy access to HDD for an upgrade
- one RAM slot so you can add an extra 1GB or 2GB Ram (search for PC8500 DDR3 ram).
- one PCI mini-express slot (If you have the non-3g version like me then this is free, otherwise it is filled with the 3g module). I am planning to slot my Broadcom crystal HD card. If youve not heard of this then its a card that you can get for quite cheap from ebay (under £20) and it helps reduce the load on the CPU when playing back High Defintion video.read about it here:

Broadcom.com - Broadcom's Crystal HD Solution Enables High Quality, High Definition Media Playback for the Super-Portable HP Mini 110

As it allows standard atom netbooks to playback 720p I am hoping that combined with the ION chipset it will mean my netbook will have no problems playing any files in the future :)

NOTE: There are no securing screws for the mini-express card as standard so if you're plugging something on make sure you have some spare!

Summary
For me, I was looking for a laptop that could work as a media centre but would also work as a light gaming PC and still remain portable and so far I am happy that that is what I have here. The HDMI out along with the ION chipset means that it is every bit as good as the Acer Revo at both of these, but the fact that I can unplug and use the mini 311 without the TV is a real book as I can still play games on it when my girlfriend is hogging the TV :)

Comparing it to the acer revo price wise I would say that for over £300 it is not worth it, however anything under £300 is a steal. Comparing it to the Acer revo, which is around £160 (+ the cost of Windows XP at around £20 from ebay) the extra functionality that this netbook allows you by being portable is worth every penny. I just hope another £250 offer comes along soon so everyone can snap one up!
 
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anpe008

Active Member
I have a mini 311 but can not make cuda work with the ION LE (MPC-HC + CoreCodec 2.0). Does somebody know the link to the newest nvidia driver for the mini? In the offical HP site the newest is 186.44 and 191 is needed , I think...

Thanks in advance.
 

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