13 Comments

Summary:

The HP Mini 5103 is the next generation of netbook with the Atom dual-core processor and touch screen. It is aimed at the enterprise with metal construction for durability, but consumers may find it a good fit for their needs, too.

Full frontal

The HP Mini 5103 is the next generation of netbook with the Atom dual-core processor and touch screen. It’s aimed at the enterprise, with metal construction for durability, but consumers may find it a good fit for their needs, too. The 10.1-inch screen helps the 5103 maintain a small footprint, yet it has a nearly full-sized keyboard.

The Mini 5103 wasn’t changed significantly from the 5102, which we reviewed earlier this year, and which has been a successful product for HP. The primary upgrade in the 5103 will appeal to those feeling the Atom processor lacks performance, as HP is including the Atom N455 dual-core processor as standard equipment. There’s a definite improvement in performance of the new processor, but it’s still an Atom-based netbook and won’t set any speed records.

The outstanding keyboard is still the stellar attraction on the 5103. HP smartly has the keyboard taking up the entire width of the small netbook, which yields a keyboard size that’s 95 percent of a full-sized model. The typing experience is outstanding, as the chiclet keys have good tactile feedback and allow fast input.

 

The trackpad on the 5103 could use improvement; there are three things I don’t like about the implementation. It’s very small, which isn’t surprising given the small size of the netbook. It lacks multitouch, which has become the norm for notebooks, and the lack of two-finger scrolling is inconvenient. There’s a scroll area on the right of the trackpad, but it’s no substitute for multitouch. The surface of the trackpad is a glossy material that actually provides mild resistance to finger sliding on the surface, making it harder to use as a result.

The optional high-resolution 10.1-inch display (1366×768) is pushing the limit for what can comfortably be viewed on such a small screen. It’s better than the standard resolution option (1024×600), so manually increasing the size of displayed objects is a small price to pay for the added functionality. The two-finger multitouch option works as expected, but I don’t find it adds much value to a netbook. I occasionally use it to close a window or hit the login icon, but that’s about all; it’s not very comfortable to reach out to a laptop screen to touch things.

HP claims a battery life of 10 hours with the 6-cell battery, but my real-world testing yields closer to 7.5 hours. That’s a decent battery life given the small size of the 6-cell, which adds very little bulk to the small package. There’s a standard 4-cell battery that HP also supplied for the evaluation, and while it adds no bulk at all, the reduced battery life would push me to the larger 6-cell. The batteries have an LED indicator that indicates the charge level at the touch of a button.

The performance of the Mini 5103 has been good for an Atom-based netbook, no doubt due to the dual-core processor. While not as fast as other notebooks with a “real” processor, I have no complaints with the performance of this model. The combination of a highly portable form, long battery life and decent performance make this a winning solution for the mobile professional.

The Mini 5103 handles video playback better than any Atom-based netbook I’ve tried. Full-screen and HD video played fine on both YouTube and Hulu. The full-screen video looked outstanding on the 10-inch screen, and this would come in handy on business trips for watching movies.

The 5103 has all of the standard ports for using peripherals, including 3 USB 2.0 (one is eSATA compatible), VGA out, audio in, audio out, RJ-45 and a Kensington lock slot. There’s a wireless switch for turning Wi-Fi (802.11 b/g/n) and Bluetooth (2.1) on and off easily, and two buttons between the keyboard and screen that will fire up HP’s QuickWeb and QuickLook utilities: Linux-based programs to start the 5103 into a web-only or an Outlook-only environment without booting full Windows.

It takes too long to boot up Windows, so HP has produced a new DayStarter utility that allows users to check calendar events and device battery status while the boot is in progress. If you can’t speed up the process, at least make the time spent more useful.

The HP Mini 5103 isn’t the cheapest netbook, with a starting price of $399, but it’s one of the best I’ve tried. It will give most mobile professionals good bang for the buck, and the dual-core Atom processor breathes new life into the tired netbook genre.

Related research on GigaOM Pro (sub req’d): Report: The Future of Netbooks

  1. Small glitch with your system specs James, the N550 runs at 1.5GHz. :)

    Did your model come with the broadcom video hardware on board? That might explain your decent performance with HD video. My experience with the N455 wasn’t too great playing back HD video from Hulu and YouTube, either in a browser window or full-screen.

    My biggest disappointment with the N550 is that it still uses the anemic 3150 integrated graphics. Sure, the broadcom board is optimized for flash 10, but it’ll only get you past playing video and running complex websites – it won’t help at all with DX9 or DX10 graphics.

    Also, the N550 runs at 8.5W TDP compared to 5.5W TDP for the N4xx, making real world battery times actually come down by 30-45 minutes, all other things being equal.

    Share
    1. You are correct. I had been supplied two different clock speeds by HP and 1.5 is correct. It has been updated. Thanks.

      Share
  2. only the 450 was 5.5w

    455, 470, 475 are all 6.5w

    Share
    1. Actually, we may have been both wrong. Doing a double-check, I found the N45x parts are at 5.5W while the slightly faster N47x parts are at 6.5W. Hard to get accurate info when some websites don’t report the numbers correctly. :)

      Share
  3. Looks good…… its about time you started reviewing computers again.

    Share
  4. James, love your work but this is the first Review I have seen with the new n550 processor and you have not done any benchmrks. some hard CPU related stats comparing this machine to single core atoms or culv chips or the new LV i3, i5 would be great. I have a kohjinsha sc3 with z515 and i skipped N450 waiting for something better, and I need to know how good the new Gigabyte T1005M is going to be, if I should buy that or the refresh of the HP TM2 instead.

    Share
    1. N550 runs about 85% faster than the N450 on CPU threaded tasks. The trade-off is you lose around 20-30 minutes battery life because of the higher TDP, which is still OK when dealing with an 8 hour battery.

      Share
  5. sorry guys, but this is a cellphone website now with most contributions by other Giga’s.

    old days of real computers, hands on, dual focused content is over

    thats why i ditched it from my RSS & only stop by every few weeks to see if theres ANYTHING but silly Android, iPhone, VZW coverage, but there isnt.

    Share
    1. ^— This.

      I have a lot of affection for James and Kevin. I’ve been around this site since near the beginning and have seen its many transformations. I abandoned my RSS feed after it became routine that half of each day’s posts featured Apple content, which a quick trip to my local mall verifies is a consumer technology brand for the tech-ignorant status chasers and not a mobile COMPUTING company. However, as people like me left, new people who love Apple (I used to, but like any fortunate survivor of an abusive relationship, I’m over it) took my place. I don’t even come around here enough to know, but I’m sure this is an Android hang out now because that’s what we’re all supposed to push these days.

      There was a time when James actually broke news and had the exclusive first-look at a device. Now, Kevin and James are forced to chase fads and advocate trends. It’s not their fault though. I really do wish them well since they’re good people and this is how they support themselves. However, it’s hard not to feel like this site has lost its way. On top of that, it does seem like Kevin and James post with eyes toward today or tomorrow but don’t think seriously about where all of this is headed. It’s crazy to think that we live in a country where people will go bonkers if the government wants to know what books somebody has checked out at their local library, but millions of people handing over all of their personal information, data, software access, and devices to Google makes perfect sense. I guess you don’t have to do evil if people are just plain dumb.

      Share
      1. @Nerdum & @Ancient

        I hear both you guys! I like James and Kevin as well, and have been wandering around here long enough to see what change has done. It’s a disappointment that a site that has it’s roots firmly planted in mobile tech is today all but ignoring the netbook and notebook.

        I too miss the days of seeing the scoop on new devices with videos and hands-on demonstrations. Now I’m forced to look elsewhere, or if I cannot find it, make my own articles on my blog. Anybody can copy a news story, but it’s the stuff you do that nobody else has that will set your website apart.

        Share
  6. Does it have HDMI out?

    Share
  7. itsssss likeeee a magiceeeeee

    Share
  8. Nerds!

    Share

Comments have been disabled for this post