The HP Mini 1103 is a 10.1-inch basic network that is budget-friendly and has a good, solid build. It also has fantastic battery life, but lacks the performance of other dual-core netbooks because this model only has a single-core CPU. It also lacks a few other things, but remember, it's budget-friendly.
The HP Mini 1103 measures 10.6 x 7.5 x 1-inches (wdh) and weighs just short of 3 pounds, which makes it extremely small and extremely portable. The design of this notebook is pretty basic and straightforward, but in a good way. It has a glossy black coating on the outside and a matte black finish on the inside. The body of it feels very sturdy even though it is made of plastic and extremely lightweight. We really liked that it can be opened 180 degrees, which is something quite uncommon with all notebooks and this allows for comfortable lap-use.
HP includes a matte finish 10.1-inch LED-backlit display, which helps to cut down on glare that glossy screen's suffer from. It has a native resolution of 1024 x 600-pixels, which just falls short of 720p high-definition, which is something that might turn away some mediaphiles. The quality of the 10.1-inch display is quite admirable, but we did think that the maximum brightness just isn't bright enough for some situations.
The keyboard is slightly dwarfed to allow it to fit on the space allotted, but it doesn't sacrifice too much space, especially on the keys that matter the most. We really liked that the top Function key's are function-reversed, meaning they work to control things like volume, brightness, etc. without the use of the 'Fn' key like some other models. The mouse trackpad is multi-touch enabled, but it's a little small in size, which can make multi-touch gestures a little awkward to perform.
In terms of connectivity, you'll find three USB 2.0 ports, an Ethernet port (hidden behind a door), an SD card reader and VGA out. You also get 802.11b/g/n and Bluetooth wireless connectivity. There's also the usual audio and headphone jacks too, with the headphone and microphone jack together. Noticeably missing is HDMI out, which means you won't be able to connect it to an HDTV and get HD-quality content on the display. There is also a VGA Webcam for Internet or other uses.
Performance with the HP Mini 1103 is hit-and-miss, however. This is due to the single-core Intel Atom N455 CPU (1.66GHz) and only 1GB of DDR3 memory (upgradable to 2GB). This combination works just fine for light computing tasks, like Web browsing, e-mailing and some productivity tasks. It was noticed that when many applications were open (3+) things started to slow down exponentially to a point of painful slowness. Watching streaming media wasn't terrible, but it wasn't the best either. We can say that if you upgraded it to 2GB of RAM, performance would definitely improve.
HP includes a 250GB hard drive that has a (surprising) speed of 7200RPM and no optical drive, which is standard for all 10-inch netbooks. The pre-installed operating system is Microsoft Windows 7 Starter Edition, which is again standard on most other comparable models.
Since the HP Mini 1103 uses a relatively low-power integrated video card, don't expect to do any gaming beyond casual Internet-based Flash games.
Battery life, on the other hand, is this netbook's selling point. In testing, we got about 6 hours of battery life, which is either the best or almost the best in this 10.1-inch netbook category. This means it's a great choice for college students or anyone "on-the-go".
While there might be a few flaws in this netbook, they can be justified by the extremely low cost of about $300. Remember, you get what you pay for and if you're looking to spend as little as you can for a solid system, this is a great buy.