Posted By RichC on November 12, 2009
Netbooks are growing up and the slightly larger models now sport a bit more memory, larger displays and the excellent Windows 7 OS. As a family, we’ll be gifting a new HP 311 netbook to my mother-in-law this year for Christmas. We’re hoping to re-introduce her to using a computer — primarily for email and web – and make the connecting to an ISP easier in all locations with the Verizon 3G wireless service. Her use is ideal for a netbook since very little processing is going to be done on the lower priced and light weight Intel Atom chipped computer.
I was elected by my family to pick out and set up the computer this year and have been waiting for one with Windows 7 Home Premium with 2 gigabytes of memory. Enter the Hewlett-Packard 311 series computer with decent sized keyboard and 11.6 inch display. Although the screen is still small by most computer standards, the 3.22 lbs and long battery life is fantastic.
I’ve been setting it up the past few days and have found it something to envy; I want one! Last night I found that it out performed my higher end notebook in both streaming video over wifi (twit.tv) and a couple of Skype calls. Obviously this HP Mini 311 is optimized to handle video with its NVIDIA ION graphics card even operating at full screen, although occasionally a few dropped frames but audio was solid. Speaking of audio, the Altec Lansing built in speakers were better than my $1300 notebook!
An option that I haven’t put to the test just yet is the built in HP Mobile Broadband chip. The Gobi chip permits a user to add Verizon Wireless, AT&T, or Sprint, service to their netbook without the USB dongle that is sold by wireless carriers. This is a nice, although expensive, option for those who travel and want 3G speeds for mobile Internet.
All in all at first glance and an after a few hours of testing, this new breed of slightly larger netbooks should be near perfect for many travelers tired of short battery cycles and the bulky sizes of traditional notebook computers. I’ll be weighing my next notebook purchase carefully.