www.hp.com (opens in new tab) Retail price: sub-$300
By Ben Grey
The HP Mini 100e netbook features up to 9.5 hours of battery life and has no internal optical drive.
Quality and Effectiveness: The HP Mini 100e’s design and feature set clearly show HP’s intent to target the education market, and overall, the product proves a solid option for schools looking to equip K–6 classrooms with low-cost netbooks. The unit has an integrated handle that will allow students to carry the netbook safely from cart to desk, or even from classroom to classroom. The case is constructed of a durable plastic that will withstand rough handling by younger students, and HP has utilized its Mylar-film spill-resistant keyboard. The six-cell battery provides enough power to last eight hours between charges.
Ease of Use: Essentially, the Mini 100e provides many of the same functions that other netbooks on the market do. The 92 percent chiclet keyboard generally felt comfortable, and its smaller size may make it most beneficial for younger students, who have smaller hands. The trackpad is integrated into the housing using the same plastic as the case, though it is recessed and given a slightly bumpy texture to provide sensation. It isn’t HP’s best trackpad design, as the tactile user experience it afforded proved frustrating. The unit provides only the slower 1.66 GHz Atom process instead of the faster 1.83 GHz model available on other netbooks.
Suitability for Use in a School Environment: Teachers will appreciate several small touches, like the small LED located on the lid that will light up when the Mini 100e is connected with a network. The unit also has an integrated Webcam for recording and Web conferencing. The Mini 100e does not come with an option for Bluetooth or with a wireless-n connection (the unit does have wireless-g). Though its plastic case provides durability, its form factor is rather thick at 1.57 inches, and the unit is a bit heavy at 3.19 pounds. HP is setting a target sub-$300 price point, but the final price is to be determined by the size of a bulk purchase. HP does not sell the units individually.
The unit is well built and integrates several features that will provide nice solutions for an elementary classroom, but the 100e seems to sacrifice other key features, the lack of which keeps it from being a truly compelling option for the elementary netbook space.