- Super durable clamshell body
- Strong screen hinges
- Very nice keyboard and touchpad
- Sold only to schools
The HP Mini 100e is an education-only netbook with a unique clamshell body, builtin carrying handle, and incredibly strong chassis.
The HP Mini 100e is the latest education-oriented netbook to hit the market, aimed solely at schools and skipping the standard consumer channels. This model features a unique clam shell design with integrated handle and a very rugged body. In this review we see how well it stacks up against similar models, including the Dell Latitude 2100, so you can decide if it’s the right netbook for your school.
Our HP Mini 100e Specifications:
- Windows 7 Starter
- 10.1″ WSVGA (1024 x 600) LED-backlit display
- Intel Atom N455 (1.66GHz, 667MHz FSB)
- Intel GMA 3150
- 802.11b/g, 10/100 LAN
- 1GB DDR3 (2GB Max)
- 160GB hard drive and SD-card reader
- Dimensions 10.9 x 9.9 x 1.57 inches
- Weight 3.10lbs with 6-cell battery
- Battery: 3-cell 28Wh Lithium-Ion
- Warranty: 1-year (extended warranties available)
- Price: Less than $300 (price varies based on configuration and units ordered)
Build and Design
The HP Mini 100e looks unlike most of the current netbooks on the market. HP started fresh from the ground up and made a computer that is super durable, easy to use, and easy to transport. From the top down this netbook was designed to take abuse from any child, day after day, and keep working as intended. The Mini 100e has a white plastic exterior shell and a very consistent color scheme inside the notebook. The same plastic that is found on the outside is everywhere inside the netbook, including the touchpad surface and screen bezel, giving the system a very industrialized look. If you are looking for a designer netbook, look elsewhere. Features like an onboard carrying handle are all about function over form, removing the need for external cases to lug around the system. Everything about this system is aimed to please school administrators, from being simple to repair to being easy to store at the end of the day when school’s let out.
The body of the Mini 100e is made of a durable plastic that seems like it would be more at home on a rugged notebook instead of a netbook. When the system is open no area around the keyboard exhibited any sort of flex. The palmrest was rock solid alone with the keyboard and trim near the screen hinges. The hinges themselves were very strong, completely without wobble, and held the screen firmly shut when the system was closed. Even the keyboard keys seemed to be a step above what was found on standard notebooks, with an etched label for each symbol instead of just being printed on the surface of the keys.
The HP Mini 100e is very easy to upgrade, although we were surprised to not see any sort of child-deterence mechanism to prevent tampering by students. With the battery removed, two screws are revealed that hold the back cover in place. Once the cover comes off you gain access to the wireless card, hard drive, and system memory. The hard drive has partial shock protection through small rubber grommets that isolate the drive from the chassis, intended no doubt for the eventual tumble during class. Overall we can easily say this netbook is one of, if not the easiest to upgrade model on the market.
Screen and Speaker
The screen on the Mini 100e is a 1024×576 resolution LED-backlit panel, which is standard issue on most consumer netbooks. Users looking to type long documents or view some newer webpages might be in for additional horizontal scrolling, but nothing that you wouldn’t find on other similar netbooks. The screen was easily viewable under bright florescent office lights, even with the brightness turned down slightly. With our Gossen Mavo light meter we measured a peak brightness of 207 nit and an average contrast ratio of 140:1. The screen featured a matte finish which helps to reduce glare in most conditions, although it wasn’t enough for using the system outdoors, as the screen wasn’t powerful enough to overcome the sun’s light. Color quality was average compared to other matte-finish netbooks and fine for viewing, editing, or creating images.
Users looking for the highest quality sound system on a netbook should probably look elsewhere, as the Mini 100e is labeled as having a single mono speaker only. Compared to other netbooks it is hard to say if it made a significant difference by removing the second speaker, but as with most systems bass and midrange were entirely lacking. Peak volume levels were fine for listening to presentations or YouTube videos, but if you plan on enjoying music or a movie, connecting headphones is the preferred method.
Keyboard and Touchpad
The keyboard on the Mini 100e feels very rugged while still maintaining a level of comfort that you would want on a consumer netbook. The keys seem more solid than what you would find on a standard consumer netbook or notebook. The individual key labels were etched instead of printed, meaning they won’t wear off over time. The keyboard tray exhibited zero flex under strong pressure, indicating excellent support from below. I found the 92% full-size design to be comfortable to type on but if given the chance I would probably choose a standard notebook for extended typing sessions. Smaller hands might not have this problem though. The indication lights for caps lock, volume mute, and wireless on/off are integrated into the keyboard through the designated function keys.
The touchpad is a spacious Synaptics model without multitouch capabilities. The touchpad control panel has areas for gestures, but all of those are grayed out indicating those features are disabled via hardware or software. The touchpad itself was very responsive with a lightly textured touch surface. The surface was made of the same plastic as the rest of the netbook body and was very easy to move across with very little friction. The touchpad buttons are easy to trigger with a deep throw and soft feedback when pressed. Noise is minimal, so you won’t have to hear hundreds of touchpad button clicks in a small classroom filled with these netbooks.
Ports and Features
The HP Mini 100e has a good port selection, including two USB 2.0 ports (one on each side), VGA-out, LAN, modem, headphone/mic jacks, and a SD-card reader. Currently most netbooks on the market include three USB ports, but given the education target market most students probably won’t be connecting a ton of devices to this netbook. Another cool feature similar to the Dell Latitude 2100 is a network activity LED on the back of the screen lid, which lets the instructor monitor if students are browsing the internet in class.