HP – Mini 5102 review

solid netbook lacking any outstanding features
Photo of HP – Mini 5102
from £287 + VAT

HP’s Mini 5102 is a netbook but it can come in at quite a price if you choose one of the higher specifications. Looking at the HP Web site as we write this review, there are four configurations available, and the most expensive of them is £498 plus VAT.

That’ll get you the top-end specifications of Windows 7 Home Premium, 2GB of RAM, a 250GB 7200rpm hard drive, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and GPS. Go to the bottom end of the pricing spectrum and the £287 (plus VAT) model has a rather different specification with SUSE Linux Enterprise 11 as the operating system, 1GB of RAM, a 160GB 7200rpm hard drive, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. Oh and that lowest priced model has a 4-cell battery where every other model listed has a 6-cell one. They all run on an Intel Atom N450 processor.

These differences in specification are likely to have a significant effect on your user experience, and making the right choice for your requirements could mean this netbook ends up costing rather more than you might at first expect.

Don’t be drawn to this netbook by the prospect of a touchscreen, either. That is apparent in some of the advertising, but it is not yet available in real products. It is ‘coming soon’.

None of the models currently being advertised has the 1366 x 768 pixel screen that our review sample offered, either. They all have 1024 x 600 pixels instead. That’s a pity, as while this higher resolution is a bit squint-inducing in the 10.1-inch screen, it did mean we were able to have two working windows opened at the same time. That’s quite important for a lot of people, though if a primary use of a netbook for you is single app activity like Web browsing or email then it may not be significant at all.

Keyboards are always very important when it comes to usability, and in netbooks they can be squeezed for space. HP has done an excellent job with the one here. Its isolated key design is superb. A little clear space between keys makes it far less likely that you’ll hit the wrong one even in the slightly squished area that is necessarily available here.

The feel under the fingers is pleasant with a reassuring click as keys are pressed and a light feel to proceedings. Heavy handed typists may find the keyboard a little unrewarding, but anybody with a light touch like ours may well find it very comfortable. There’s nothing wrong with the touchpad’s responsiveness but we weren’t too delighted with its shiny surface because it attracts fingerprints.

The array of ports and connectors sits squarely in netbook territory. There are three USB ports, an Ethernet connector, microphone and headset sockets, SD card slot and a VGA port for connecting your monitor. Of course, there’s no optical drive.

Company: HP

Contact: 0845 270 4215


Verdict
Without the touchscreen element the HP Mini 5102 doesn't have anything about it that makes it stand out from the netbook crowd. The high resolution screen of our review sample isn't available from HP online as we write, so even that is not a draw. You'll probably want to budget for a bigger spend than the entry level model too, making this a relatively expensive netbook.