HP Mini 311-1037NR Netbook Review1
Earlier this year Verizon Wireless introduced their first netbook, the HP Mini 1151NR, which was then followed by the Gateway LT2016u and HP Mini 110-1046NR. All of which used the outdated, but reliable, Windows XP SP3 Home Edition. The new HP Mini 311-1037NR steps things up a notch, as it features Windows 7 Home Premium Edition, a larger hard drive, more RAM, and Nvidia ION graphics. Naturally, the HP Mini 311 still comes with an internal Mobile Broadband data card that operates on Verizon’s EVDO Rev A network while in the US, as well as quad-band GSM/GPRS/EDGE and tri-band UMTS/HSPA while roaming. There is also a CAT 5 Ethernet port and Wi-Fi 802.11b/g for people who have access to a WLAN.
Included in the retail box is the HP Mini 311-1037NR netbook, 6-cell battery, wall charger and user guides.
The HP Mini 311 is by far the largest netbook sold by Verizon Wireless to date, as it measures 11.4”W x 8.03” D and with a height ranging from 0.78”-1.29” (since the device is angled front-to-back). The 3.22 pound weight is also noticeably heavier than other Verizon netbooks, such as the more compact 2.5 pound HP Mini 1151NR. However, when placing the HP Mini 311 next to the Gateway LT2016u, there really isn’t a dramatic difference in size and weight, and it actually looks better overall. We also like that the HP Mini 311 continues the “scroll design” on the top cover from the Mini 1151NR, but even more so the internal black keyboard and surrounding bezel has been replaced with a modern silver-pearl color, which complements the overall design of the Mini 311 nicely.
The LED backlit display on the HP Mini 311 measures 11.6” diagonal and has a resolution of 1366x768, which makes it the largest and highest-resolution display out of all current Verizon netbooks. The difference is quite noticeable when compared next to the other models, as you have a 1.5” larger screen and with greater detail. The display on the HP Mini 311 is also missing the protective glass covering that we saw on the Mini 1151NR, but we do not miss it, as it caused too much sun to be reflected when used outside. Above the display is a mic, LED light and webcam capable of recording video up to 640x480 resolution at 15FPS.
Located on the sides are three USB 2.0 ports, wired ethernet jack, 15-pin VGA monitor output, HDMI output, combination headphone/ microphone jack, and media card reader for SD/MMC/RS-MMC/xD/MS/MS-PRI. Naturally it does not come with an internal CD/DVD drive, but an optional external unit is available that connects via USB.
As with all other Verizon netbooks, the HP Mini 311 comes equipped with an Intel Atom N270 processor, operating at 1.6 GHz, though we would have rather seen the newer 1.66GHz N280 processor used instead, since the Mini 311 is a higher-end unit. Thankfully, the RAM had been increased to reasonable 2GB, but is expandable to 3GB, which we would recommend for power-users. The hard drive is a useable 160GB, but the user can replace it with a larger drive (up to 320GB) or even an SSD for faster performance with greater battery life. It would be nice if these options were available to be built into the Mini 311 when ordered from Verizon, instead of having to purchase and install them separately. The Nvidia ION graphic chipset also makes a great difference when playing games or using graphically intense programs. You can now play more advanced 3D games, watch full HD video without a hitch and even edit HD video (with the proper tools) if you’re keen on uploading YouTube clips. We hope to see it made available on more netbooks.
The keyboard on the HP Mini 311 was by far the most comfortable and easiest to use, when compared to the HP Mini 1151NR and Gateway LT2016u. Often times when using smaller keyboards, your hands will start feeling cramped after a period of use, but this was not the case on the Mini 311, as we were able to use the keyboard for several hours at a time while remaining comfortable. This is also due to the large wrist-support under the keyboard, which houses the large touchpad and two mouse buttons. We are also glad to see the accuracy problems we encountered with the touchpad on the HP Mini 1151NR have been resolved on the Mini 311.