Rethinking my travel computer while working with the HP311

Posted By on November 12, 2009

hp311_twit 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 ( 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. hp311The 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.


  • Myself, I’m (unintentionally) using a three-device strategy.

    When I need full power, I’ve got my ThinkPad T60p, which while lacking in CPU (2.0 GHz Core Duo) and somewhat in RAM (2.5 GiB,) has quite a lot of GPU punch (after the motherboard replacement I had to do, an ATI FireGL V5250,) and has a 2048×1536 LCD retrofitted.

    The original intent was that, when I didn’t need full power, I’d fall back to my HTC Touch Pro, but due to the motherboard failure, I ended up getting a $250 Aspire One D250… and it’s a thoroughly decent machine, despite being your typical 1.6 GHz Atom, 945GSE, 1 GiB RAM, 160 GB HDD, XP Home, 3-cell battery netbook.

    So, now, instead of having to choose between just my phone, and an almost 7 pound laptop, I’ve got a 2.2 pound option. My ThinkPad beats it badly in every spec… except battery life, size, and weight, and sometimes I just don’t want to deal with the monster. Besides, with the mods that I’ve done to the ThinkPad, I care more about it getting damaged than a $250 netbook.

  • I appreciate your insight Eric. At some point I want to improve the weight and bulk of my computer bag, especially as airline travel and baggage handling gets more challenging. I’m about to protest some airlines who are charging for checked luggage which nearly eliminates overhead storage for travelers last too board.

    I do really appreciated the little HP Mini 311 when it comes to battery life or how my computer fits on a coach sized tray table! As my eyes age, the small default type and screen real estate is still troubling, but then its all what you get use too. Frankly the 11.6 inch HP display is appropriate for email and web based apps, but isn’t appropriate for spreadsheet and Adobe CS apps … unfortunately something I need regularly. I’ll keep my eyes on the ultra thin computers that have been showing up …

  • Kian Gray

    i always prefer to travel using those budget Airline travel, they seem to have some good service too…;

  • I’m very happy that I found your website, it had all of the information I’ve been looking for

Desultory - des-uhl-tawr-ee, -tohr-ee

  1. lacking in consistency, constancy, or visible order, disconnected; fitful: desultory conversation.
  2. digressing from or unconnected with the main subject; random: a desultory remark.