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HP Mini 1151NR review: The first netbook from Verizon Wireless

July 16, 2009

in All Articles,Laptops and netbooks

Post image for HP Mini 1151NR review: The first netbook from Verizon Wireless

The HP Mini 1151NR is a new generation of laptop computers called a “netbook”. You’re going to be seeing a lot more of these! For those unfamiliar with what a netbook is, think of it as a small computer. Much bigger than a cellphone, but much smaller than your average laptop. The picture shows the HP Mini sitting next to a laptop that’s a little bigger than average – a Dell XPS M1530.

Some netbooks have integrated cellular cards. That allows the computer to connect to the Internet via your preferred cellular vendor, and browse the Web, check email, and do most everything else you’d normally do online. Only now, you have the advantage of portability. Take a netbook anywhere (its size and battery life makes it far easier to transport), and get online almost anywhere (if you can get a connection with your cellphone, the netbook will be able to browse the web).

And that’s what this netbook does – the HP Mini 1151NR is designed with mobility and browsing in mind. It’s actually sold by Verizon Wireless. There is a Verizon cellular chip inside the HP Mini, and you can pay for a Verizon data plan, activate the chip, and surf, surf, surf. Here’s pricing per Verizon’s press release:

Verizon Wireless customers will be able to select from Mobile Broadband month-to-month, one- or two-year plans:
• $39.99 monthly access for 250 MB monthly allowance and 10 cents per megabyte overage
• $59.99 monthly access with a 5 GB monthly allowance and 5 cents per megabyte overage

And just to confuse the issue, I should state that of course the HP Mini also has 802.11 wireless capability – it can still connect to wireless networks you may have at home, work, hotels or your favorite coffee shop. This is free connectivity – you are only charged for the Verizon plan if you’re using the cellular wireless connection.

HP Mini 1151NR features and opinions

We’ll talk about the detail in a moment. First, here is a Verizon-provided list of some capabilities, including the HP Mini’s dimensions:

E-mail – view, edit, and create e-mail messages with attachments
Web browse – experience a full Web browsing experience
Instant Messaging and Social Networking
Videos and movies – playback videos and movies downloaded via SD card or USB CD/DVD external drive
Photos – view and create albums or transfer via SD card
Microsoft Works® – view, but not edit, Microsoft Word and Excel files


HP Mini screen size and resolution

As you see by the specs listed later in this article, the HP Mini’s screen measures 10.1 inches and has a resolution of 1024 x 576. The 10.1 inches is a great thing – this is a small enough device it doesn’t need a laptop case! It’s about the same width as a comic book, and just a little taller and thicker. My point is that it’s small. But this size also drops the amount of real estate you can show on the screen at once.

I’m unsure why HP decided to go with 576 vertical pixels (from what I can tell, this resolution is fixed and can’t be changed). I assume there was a technical or production-driven reason for this feature, so won’t make guesses beyond that. But the end result is that it’s sometimes difficult to fit your screen contents vertically on a particular page – compared to a more “normal-sized” screen, the HP Mini screen contents may look chopped off, or unable to fit everything you want to look at, of what you’re looking at is particularly “tall”.

For a slightly-helpful visual comparison, look again at the picture at the top of this article. The webpages on the two PCs are identical. But look how much more information is on the bigger laptop. Also, look at the size of the picture itself – I resized it so it’s exactly 576 pixels tall. The HP Mini’s width is of course much wider, but the picture size itself may help with giving you a feel for the vertical size of the display.

Depending on what you’re using the HP Mini for, this may or may not be an issue. Also realize that you can plug in an external monitor, and get screen sizes of up to 2048 x 1536 – that’s big enough for almost anyone.

HP Mini preinstalled software

The preloaded software comes installed on top of Windows XP Home Edition. The Windows XP choice was a very good one, in my opinion – no Windows Vista here – the Mini doesn’t have the graphics capabilities to take advantage of it, and Vista would bring a needless performance hit.

The rest of the preloaded software is a bunch of things that you can get for free anywhere else, with two exceptions:

VZ Access Manager – this is the tool that talks to your HP Mini’s Verizon cellular card, so you can get online with the Verizon Wireless network. It’s simple to use – just double-click and you’re connected. It can also be used to manage and connect to other (non-cellular) wireless networks, gives helpful wireless performance and speed statistics, and can send and receive text messages.

Microsoft Works – This is Microsoft’s extremely low-budget version of an office application suite. It can read (but not write) files from MS Office (Word and Excel). Nice, I guess, but there are far better applications out there for free. Anyone who gets the HP Mini should then download the free OpenOffice productivity suite, where you can indeed read and write MS Office files.

HP Mini performance

I was happy with the HP Mini’s performance for basic end-user operations like browsing, document manipulation and simple games. But it started to noticably slow down when I played some online arcade flash games. This is not a high-performance machine – my model had an Intel Atom 1.6 GHz processor, 1 GB RAM, and an 80 GB hard drive. This machine will “top out” sooner than others if you load a bunch of pre-loading applications and drive indexers. But that’s not the fault of the HP Mini – it wasn’t designed to be a high-performance workhorse. This is very good hardware for the price.


The HP Mini is a nice laptop, but is not designed or intended to be used for multimedia work or anything CPU/memory-intensive (including most games, video/audio editing and application programming). Some users may find the screen size a little cramped, unless they hook it up to an external monitor.

The HP Mini will work great for editing text, spreadsheets, and all the usual business documents (assuming you load the previously-mentioned free OpenOffice or MS Office). It’s fine for messaging and some browsing. Other websites – like those with big pictures – may be a hassle to browse.

My one recommendation is to see it before you buy it – it’s difficult to communicate here about the screen sizing issue. It’s one of those things that may be important to some, but others wouldn’t care. It’s up to you to determine the importance. The HP Mini isn’t for me personally – I need a hefty, high-powered laptop for my personal and business work. But for someone who has fairly basic computer needs (including word processing, office document work, messaging and some web browsing), the HP Mini is a solid offering. And its size, portability and built-in cellular wireless are all nice bonuses.


The HP Mini 1151NR is available online from Verizon Wireless and in Verizon Wireless Communications Stores. It will cost $199.99 after a $50 mail-in rebate and new two-year activation on a Mobile Broadband plan. Customers will receive the rebate in the form of a debit card; upon receipt, customers may use the card as cash anywhere debit cards are accepted.


HP Mini 1151NR detailed specifications

Mobile Broadband – EV-DO Revision A (Rev. A) Embedded
GlobalAccess – Qualcomm Gobi chipset (quad-band GPRS/EDGE/GSM and tri-band HSPA/UMTS)
802.11b/g WLAN and Bluetooth
Wired Ethernet RJ-45
Display – 10.1” Flush Glass (1024 x 576) diagonal LED BrightView Infinity display
Weight – 2.4 Pounds
Dimensions – 1” x 10.3” x 6.6”
Power – three-cell battery, 30W AC Adapter
Processor – Intel Atom N270
Processor Speed – 1.6 GHz
System Memory – 1 GB RAM
Storage Hard Drive – 80 GB hard disk drive
Operating System – Windows XP Home Edition; Service Pack 3
USB Ports – Two USB 2.0 ports
Video – VGA out (requires optional accessory); built-in Webcam 640 x 480, 30 fps
Audio – Stereo speakers, integrated microphone, combo headphone/microphone jack
Removable memory – combo SD/MMC card slot
Limited Warranty – one-year

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