Hands-On With The HP Mini 311 Ion Netbook

HP Mini 311 HP officially announced the existence of the HP 311 netbook with Nvidia Ion today, adding another attractive system to their lineup of Minis. We spent some time with this eagerly anticipated 11.6-inch system and were initially very impressed. The design, the bright and beautiful screen, and the price all make this netbook a head-turner.

Starting with the lid, the Mini 311 has a pleasing swirly pattern in the glossy HP Imprint finish. The unit we saw was white and you can also get it in black. Under the lid is a 92% of full size keyboard with springy and responsive keys. It reminds us of the keyboard found on the HP 2140. The trackpad is very smooth and our fingers glided easily across it. We also like that the two mouse buttons sit underneath instead of on the left and right sides. The bottom of these buttons is flush with the edge of the chassis, a nice design touch.

The 11.6-inch, 1366 x 768 LED display is bright with rich colors that pop. It’s capable of full HD and has a 16:9 aspect ratio for widescreen movie lovers. If you’re eager to see HD videos on a larger screen, the Mini 311 has an HDMI out port.

The remaining port spread is typical of other netbooks — 3 USB, microphone, headphone, Ethernet, and 5-in-1 card reader. Inside there’s a 160GB hard drive, 1GB of RAM (expandable to 3GB), and a 1.6-GHz Intel Atom N270 CPU.

Of course the star component is the Nvidia Ion graphics chip which will make it possible to play more graphics-intensive games than netbooks can currently handle and full HD video playback. We didn’t get a chance to see the netbook’s full capability, but we’re looking forward to testing it out.

The unit we looked at was running Windows 7. It’ll be available with Windows XP first, then Windows 7 Premium in late October. The starting price is a very attractive $399.

Check out our hands-on video below:


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  1. Scott Says:

    Wow you can “do more” with ION… thanks for clearing up the performance difference for us.

  2. K. T. Bradford Says:

    We haven’t gotten a test unit yet so we can’t give you performance scores. But when we do our full review we’ll be able to quantify the advantage Ion gives.

  3. Doug Says:

    It’s about time someone released an Ion netbook. First lenovo promised one but now they won’t deliver it until Win 7 either. Unfortunately the Ion will do nothing for the poor Atom performance. But you can still play some old games on “regular” netbook hardware – http://hubpages.com/hub/best-netbook-games

  4. Fanfoot Says:

    Nice job Dana. An interesting machine obviously.

    My primary reaction is this might as well be a 12″ laptop. Looking at the size of the machine, its within spitting distance of the dimensions of the Samsung NC20 which has a 12″ display.

    I’d rather have a 12″ display. So would most people.

    The reason to pick an 11″ display? Because the resulting netbook is smaller.

    But this isn’t smaller. Why? Because it has those enormous bezels around the screen and keyboard. A 92% keyboard? Why? There’s clearly enough room inside this thing for a full sized keyboard, they just found it easier to waste the space.

    I think some of the design queues are really nice, and it looks well built, but its not going on my list thanks.

  5. Peter Says:

    It’s very strange, that nobody noticed wrong info in this article – processor inside is Intel Atom 280, not 270…

  6. Lazlow Panaflex Says:

    The Atom 280 is offered as a $25 upgrade.

  7. Yantee Says:

    This baby also comes with intel atom 270. I checked it on HP website.

  8. Hoddy4 Says:

    The mini 311 seems to perform well and HP has marketed it right with a starting price of $399, but it certainly is no value compared to something like the culv based Acer AS1410. The Acer has a free upgrade to Win7 Premium, 2 gig (expandable to 4) versus 1 gig of memory, a 4400mah versus a 2600 mah battery, and pre-N wireless for $449 retail. in addition, hp is currently charging $30 for shipping.

  9. Yan Says:

    I am lucky enough to have an HP mini 311 and a Gateway ec1803h (almost identical to acer 1410)

    My mini runs XP, N270 1.6ghz atom, 3 gigs DDR3 1066, Nvidia Ion, and a 160gig HD for now…soon SSD drive and Win 7.

    My Gateway…now my girlfriends…runs Core Solo u3500, Windows 7, 4 gigs DDR2, and a 250gig HD, with and intel 4500MHD integrated chip.

    Both are great, have long battery life, play HD videos, Youtube HD (flash 10.1 beta for Mini).

    Having used both I’d say I like the build quality of the Gateway a little better but the Mini is my favorite in the end.

    Quite simply the little bit more processor power you get on Culv unit is nice…but…the extra graphics power on Mini 311 is truly something.

    I find the extra GPU suits me better because I can play DOOM 3 and CALL of DUTY 4 when im on the road, whereas the Gateway couldn’t even try to do the same. No chance anything but older games will run.

    In the end its a choice of CPU vs GPU…but with games such a big part of the experience I enjoy the Mini wins out. (GMA 4500MHD is pretty damn weak for anything other than HD movie watching)

    Now if only they brought a Core Duo Culv + Ion running Win 7 to market. That would be the best setup.


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