- Dual-core N550 improves system responsiveness
- High resolution screen
- Good battery life
- Non-multitouch touchpad
- Touchscreen could cause problems with small buttons
The HP Mini 5103 offers a good looking business design with excellent build quality and very nice performance
The new HP Mini 5103 is an update to the previous 5102 netbook, adding the newest dual-core Intel Atom N455 to the spec-sheet. This 10.1-inch netbook can be configured with an optional multi-touch display and has a starting price of $399.99. Check out our review to see our verdict on this small system.
Our HP Mini 5103 has the following specifications:
- Windows 7 Professional (32-bit)
- Processor: Intel Atom N550 Processor 1.5GHz (1MB cache)
- Memory: 2GB DDR3 SDRAM
- Storage: 160GB 7200rpm SATA HDD
- Display: 10.1-inch multitouch LED-backlit display (1366×678, matte finish)
- Graphics: Intel GMA 3150 integrated graphics
- Wireless: Broadcom 802.11a/b/g/n and Bluetooth 2.1 +EDR
- Expansion: 4-in-1 media card slot
- Dimensions (H x W x D): 10.30 x 7.09 x 0.98 in
- Weight: 3.01 lb with 6-cell battery (not including weight of AC adapter).
- Power: Standard 4-cell (28WHr)Lithium-ion battery or 6-cell (66WHr) extended-life battery
- Warranty: One-year standard warranty
- Price: $399.99 Starting
Build and Design
The HP Mini 5103 has a very business-like appearance with a squared-off chassis and rugged-looking brushed metal finish. The design hasn’t changed much over the years, first seen with the Mini 5101 and the 5102 earlier this year. The appearance is almost as if the small and medium-business ProBook 4520s was hit with a shrinkray and this was the result. The brushed metal finish holds up well to daily abuse, but it seemed to attract a few fingerprints without much effort. The inside has a rubbery dark paint covering the palmrest with a glossy black touchpad recessed slightly below the surface. On top of the keyboard HP throws in two quick-launch buttons to launch an internet browser and default email client … probably the two most used applications on a business notebook.
Build quality is a step above most consumer netbooks with a very sturdy chassis and durable finishes inside and out. The brushed metal screen cover held up well against everything except fingerprints-easier to wipe off than scratches — and also added some extra protection for the LCD. When closed, the netbook had very little flex, which is just what you would expect from a business-grade system. The only aspect that seemed to clash with the business-theme was an abundance of glossy finishes, including the touchpad, keyboard bezel, and screen bezel that increase reflection and attract fingerprints more compared to matte or rough finishes.
The HP Mini 5103 wasn’t as easy to upgrade as most business notebooks. The designers only included access for the system memory, although that is still a step up from the ProBook 4520s which needed to be fully dismantled to access the RAM. A few added perks to the design included battery charge-indicators on the 4 and 6-cell batteries which give an instant readout of capacity without having to turn the system on. The Mini 5103 also made use of the larger full-size notebook AC-adapter plug, which looks and feels more solid than your average netbook power connector.
Screen and Speakers
The HP Mini 5103 offers an optional multitouch display with a WXGA resolution. For average day to day usage the screen is great for browsing the internet or writing documents without excessive scrolling. For accurate finger-input the smaller details can be troublesome, but with practice it gets easier to hit the smaller icons. The screen has a matte finish which is great when it comes to reducing screen glare. The added layer for the touch-sensitive screen didn’t seem to add that much haze, keeping images and text crisp and clear. We measured peak brightness at 225nit and the contrast level at the center of the screen as 151:1, which is about average in terms of netbook or notebook displays.
Viewing angles were above-average with colors starting to invert with the screen tilted forward or back 25-30 degrees. Horizontal viewing angles were better, staying visible to about 80 degrees before glare off the screen prevented you from viewing what was being displayed.
The multitouch display was responsive in our testing, but the small screen size combined with the higher resolution display did present some problems with the user interface. Aiming for small buttons, especially when located near the corners resulted in many tries before you could close a window or hit the back button in a web browser. With scaling increased some of this could be elevated, but then you take away any benefits of even having the higher resolution panel to increase screen real-estate.
The stereo speakers are front-firing, located on the front edge of the palmrest. Compared to other netbooks the speakers rank about average, with moderate volume levels, but weak bass and midrange. For listening to streaming video or audio, or using Skype they should suffice, but headphones would be a good idea.
Keyboard and Touchpad
The keyboard on the Mini 5103 is easy to type on with its Chiclet-style design. Spacing between keys was wide enough to help reduce mistakes while typing, and the design was very comfortable to type on for hours at a time. The slightly-smaller than full-size design did take some adjustment to get used to, since some of the outer perimeter keys are condensed compared to keys around the center of the keyboard. The tab, `, and 1 buttons were smaller than average to help make room for other keys. Typing pressure needed to activate each key was minimal, with each key only needing a soft touch to engage. Key noise was minimal, allowing me to type without annoying others in meetings or coffee shops.
The HP Mini 5103 has a unique Synaptics touchpad in that it has no multitouch capabilities enabled. Unlike the majority of the current netbooks on the market, HP didn’t opt for a unit with more than single-finger input. This is probably because it featured a multitouch display, but in any event it would have been nice for when you didn’t want to interact with the screen directly. Sensitivity was excellent out of the box, requiring no adjustments during the review. The glossy surface was easy to slide across and didn’t seem to have problems with a wet or oily finger. The touchpad buttons are adequately sized, coated with the same rubbery paint as the rest of the chassis. Feedback was shallow, with a mild click emitted when fully pressed.
Ports and Features
The HP Mini 5103 had a rather standard port layout, including three USB 2.0 ports, VGA-out, headphone and microphone jacks, LAN, and a SDHC-card slot. The system also featured a handy wireless on/off switch to quickly disable any radios.