HP Mini 5101 netbook review

HP takes a second stab at the netbook with the Mini 5101. Is this the best portable corporate computer you can buy?

Naturally, therefore there's Draft-n Wi-Fi to go along with this, as well as Bluetooth and just as you'd find on any high falutin' laptop, there's a switch to toggle the wireless on and off right at the front of the machine.

What would really top off this machines connectivity would be built-in mobile broadband, and indeed it is available as an option though it wasn't integrated into our review sample.

As mentioned, Window XP was the OS on our review sample, despite the presence of a Windows Vista Basic sticker on the top. If you're buying from HP or a reseller, you're likely to be able to choose, and indeed Ubuntu Linux is supported as an option.

Powering the whole caboodle is Intel's ubiquitous Atom processor, here in 1.66GHz N280 guise. Problems with just one of our six tests in our benchmarking suite prevented us from obtaining an overall score, (we'll update when fixed) but with 1GB of RAM, you know what you're going to get from a machine like this in terms of performance. It's perfectly fine for all the basic tasks we threw at it, but it's only when you have multiple applications going on the go that it starts to feel sluggish.

Overall, we were highly enamoured with the HP Mini 5101 and was all set to the best netbook we've yet seen by far. However, it did however blot its copybook in one key area - battery life. While it's not awful, the three hours 57 minutes we obtained in our light use test is not outstanding, nor the two hours 10 from the heavy use test. The solution then is to pick up a long-life battery from HP, though that will inevitably have an affect on size, weight and of course cost, as that will cost you an extra 100 or so.

Indeed the latter is another issue this level of quality doesn't come cheap, and even without 3G this version costs over 360. That puts it out of the running as the best value machine, but if it's a premium quality machine you're after, and cost be damned, then this is the netbook to get, as long as you also pick up a long-life battery as the same time.

Verdict

HP's second netbook is the best one we’ve yet seen for design and build, and the high resolution display is another highlight. However, unimpressive battery life and high cost take the shine of an otherwise first-rate machine.

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