So, what do I want out of my next laptop and what must it include?
HP Mini 311 netbook
A large Windows 7-based netbook with powerful NVIDIA ION graphics
- Fast graphics performance, fast hard drive, 1366x768 screen resolution, comfortable to use, runs Windows 7
- Lacks 802.11n and Gigabit networking, has a single audio port, doesn't feel as solid as previous HP Minis
A big screen, fast graphics and good hard drive performance are just some of the things to like about HP's first Windows 7-based netbook. It's a great unit for anyone who wants to view high-definition video content while on the go and it's comfortable enough to use for extended periods.
Price$ 899.00 (AUD)
HP's Mini 311 is an 11.6in netbook that weighs 1.4kg. It's one of the first netbooks to come with Windows 7 Home Premium preinstalled. It's also one of the first to use NVIDIA's ION platform, with an NVIDIA system chipset and integrated GeForce 9400M graphics processor.
NVIDIA claims that ION-based netbooks can provide over 10 times the graphics performance of regular netbooks. Usually, we'd dismiss such a claim two seconds after reading it. And we were right to do so this time, because NVIDIA's claim was inaccurate. 3DMark06 benchmarks showed the HP Mini 311 is approximately 15 times faster in the graphics department than a typical netbook, such as Samsung's NC10.
The extra graphics grunt means that Windows 7's slick graphical user interface runs very smoothly and high-definition video content can be viewed without tearing and stuttering. The HP Mini 311 has an HDMI port that allows you to display Full HD videos on a big screen, and the 250GB hard drive lets you store content on the netbook rather than having to use an external drive. It's worth mentioning that the hard drive is a Samsung HM250HI, with a 5400rpm spin speed. It was very fast in our file transfer tests, recording an average speed of 27.89 megabytes per second. In essence, you could use the Mini 311 as a makeshift digital video and music player for your living room, and, if you plug in a USB-based digital TV tuner, as media centre.
However, the Mini 311 is still a netbook at heart, albeit with stronger arteries. It runs a 1.66GHz Intel Atom N280 CPU, which is not unusual, but it also has 2GB of DDR3 SDRAM, which is slightly faster and less power-hungry than the DDR2 memory present in most netbooks. Nevertheless, the netbook will be slow at media encoding and multitasking. This was shown clearly in our iTunes (MP3 encoding) and Blender (3D rendering) tests. It took 7min 36sec to encode 53min worth of WAV files to 192Kbps MP3s, and 6min 58sec to render a 3D image. Compared to other netbooks, these are quick times and they make this one of the fastest netbooks on the Australian market; they are still slow results for users looking to primarily conduct these sorts of tasks, however.
In our WorldBench 6 benchmark suite, the Mini 311 recorded an overall score of 31, which is what we expect of a netbook. It was particularly slow in the multitasking portion of this benchmark, during which it took 1394sec to complete the task. Even so, the Mini 311 felt responsive as we navigated Windows 7's menus and launched programs. It definitely didn't feel sluggish during regular use — only when we undertook taxing tasks such as the afore-mentioned MP3 encoding and 3D rendering tests.
The Mini 311's 11.6in screen makes it more comfortable to use than most netbooks. Its native resolution of 1366x768 gives a wider and taller view of Web pages and it means tall dialog boxes aren't cut off by the edge of the screen. It also helps when editing images. Its contrast and brightness are good, but it's a glossy screen, which will make it a little annoying to use in bright conditions.
We like the keyboard: the keys are 16.5mm wide, except for the shrunken arrow and function keys. The touchpad is large (8.2x3.8cm) and has a conventional design with the left- and right-click keys located at the bottom, rather than either side of it. The palm rest is also a good size and makes the netbook comfortable to type on for long periods of time.
The netbook's keys possess good travel and felt good to the touch. However, the keyboard and the notebook in general don't feel as solidly built as HP's previous efforts. The keyboard moves ever so slightly when you hit its keys, and the netbook's chassis bends when you hold it from the corners. That's not say it's a flimsy netbook, it just doesn't feel as solid as the other HP Minis we have tested.
The bending chassis can be attributed to its thin, sloping profile, which is only approximately 10mm at the front and 20mm at the rear. It looks good, but it does compromise connectivity slightly. You get three USB 2.0 ports, HDMI, D-Sub (VGA), an SD card slot, a 10/100 Ethernet port, and a combination microphone/headphone port. This type of microphone port is becoming increasingly common on HP Minis (the HP Mini by Studio Tord Boontje features one, too) and it is annoying if you want to plug in a microphone and a pair of headphones. When connected to a TV via HDMI, audio will travel via the HDMI port.
You can connect to a network using the built-in 802.11g wireless networking adapter or the 10/100 Ethernet port. These features are a disappointment for a netbook that has so many other good features. We would have liked an 802.11n wireless adapter and Gigabit Ethernet for quicker file transfers over a LAN.
Battery life was good in our tests, with the Mini 311 lasting 3hr 29min. You can get even more life out of it if you employ a power saving scheme and let Windows 7 automatically regulate the screen brightness during idle periods. It comes with a 6-cell battery.
You can use the HP Mini 311 comfortably while on the road, and it's big enough to be used for extensive typing. We like its powerful graphics chip, fast hard drive and HDMI port, and think it's a good unit overall — Windows 7 runs very well on it. The only real disappointment is the lack of faster networking, but we can live with that.
Follow PC World Australia on Twitter: @PCWorldAu
Join the newsletter!
Most Popular Reviews
- 1 Huawei Nova 3e: P20 in a pinch
- 2 Oppo R15 Pro review: A compelling mid-tier option with lots of value and few compromises
- 3 LG E8 OLED TV (2018) and SK10Y soundbar review: If you've been on the fence about OLED, now might be the time to jump it
- 4 Nokia 6 (2018) review: Simple. Solid. Supreme.
- 5 Samsung Q9F Series QLED: Full, in-depth review
Latest News Articles
- Samsung unveil Galaxy Book 2
- Alienware angle towards portability with Alienware m15
- Razer announces new headset, keyboard and mouse
- IFA 2018: MSI expand Prestige range with new P65 Creator
- IFA 2018: ASUS launch first TUF gaming laptops
PCW Evaluation Team
I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.
If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.
If you can afford the price tag, it is well worth the money. It out performs any other laptop I have tried for gaming, and the transportable design and incredible display also make it ideal for work.
Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category
The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use
I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.
- Hands on with Huawei's Mate 20 Pro
- Samsung Galaxy Note 9: Full, in-depth, Australian review
- Oppo Find X: Full, in-depth review
- Which flagship TV is best? Sony 4K HDR Bravia 2016 versus LG 4K HDR OLED 2016
- 10 Blu-ray movies / Best looking Blu-ray movies