The Bottom Line
- Superior 3D Integrated Graphics
- Full Windows 7 Operating System
- Larger Memory and Hard Drive
- Mediocre Battery Life
- Heavier Than Average 11-inch Netbook
- Above Average Price Tag
- Intel Atom N270 Mobile Processor
- 2GB PC3-8500 DDR3 Memory
- 250GB 5400rpm SATA Hard Drive
- 11.6" WXGA (1366x768) LED Backlist Display With VGA Webcam
- NVIDIA ION Integrated Graphics
- Fast Ethernet, 802.11b/g Wireless
- Three USB 2.0, HDMI, VGA, 5-in-1 Card Reader
- 11.4" x 8" x 1.2" @ 3.2 lbs.
- Windows 7 Home Premium 32-bit, Works, Norton Internet Security
Guide Review - HP Mini 311-1025NR 11.6-inch Netbook
Dec 3 2009 - Performance on the HP Mini 311-1025NR is slightly improved not because of the processor which is still the Intel Atom N270 but from the memory system. Unlike typical netbooks that ship with a single gigabyte of DDR2 memory, the Mini 311 uses faster DDR3 memory. In addition, it ships with a two gigabytes over the standard one. This is due to HP using the standard Windows 7 Home Premium operating system license over the netbook restricted versions.
One of the other benefits of using the standard Windows 7 operating system is the removal of the hard drive size restrictions as well. The average netbook comes with a 160GB hard drive while the Mini 311-1025NR uses a larger 250GB model. This is still much smaller than can be found in budget netbooks and ultraportables, but it is a welcome addition.
The biggest difference with the Mini 311-1025NR though is the graphics. The number one issue of netbooks is their GMA 950 graphics that can't be used for HD video streams or 3D graphics. By using the NVIDIA ION platform, the system now has Direct X 10 compatible graphics that surpass many features found even in the GMA 4500MHD found in larger laptops. Don't expect to be playing high resolution modern PC games as they are still heavily limited by the Atom processor but the netbook can easily handle HD video streams and even playback of Blu-ray videos with an optional and expensive external drive.
Those hoping to watch HD video on the Mini 311-1025NR will be pleased by the 11.6-inch LED backlit display that features a high 1366x768 resolution. This allows 720p playback on the screen. It is possible to play a 1080p video source on an external display through the HDMI video port. While the screen does have a high resolution, the color isn't quite up to par with some other netbook screens. This is likely a cost cutting measure to try and keep prices down.
The added graphics performance does take a toll on the battery life of the HP Mini 311. The six-cell battery is fairly typical of many netbooks but video playback tests yielded around three hours of overall use. This is less than the four hours in typical netbooks and well behind the six or more hours on many new large battery models. Typical netbook usage will yield roughly four hours of usage while using an external Blu-ray drive will drop to about two hours.
While 11-inch based netbooks are larger than the traditional 10-inch models, the HP Mini 311 is slightly thicker and heavier than the average. Many people may not notice the extra width and weight but it could matter to those traveling frequently.
For many though, the $500 list price tag of the HP Mini 311-1025NR is the biggest problem. It is significantly more than similarly equipped non-ION netbooks and is almost to the price of a good CULV based ultraportable that offers more general performance. Still, it is refreshing to see a netbook with improved graphics capabilities.