Mobile Broadband Netbook Review
Click for an short interactive video on the Compaq Mini 110. Pops up in a new window
Let’s make no bones about it.
The name of this site is mobile-broadband-reviews.com. As such, the focus has been more on mobile broadband services rather than actual devices that you and I used to access them.
With the entry of mobile broadband netbooks such as the Compaq Mini 110, we’ll be taking a look at mobile broadband from a built-in perspective.
However, before we delve into the specifics of the Compaq Mini, let’s run through some basics about netbooks.
The term netbook, coined by Intel, conveys little useful information about this category of machines. Sure, they all have wireless networking, but so does every other laptop. What the term originally helped to identify was a class of small, ultra lightweight, cheap-as-dirt mobile PCs.
Netbooks are tiny–usually between half and two-thirds the size of a garden-variety laptop–and they typically weigh around 2.5 pounds. With their cool, slim designs, they outclass some fancy ultraportables. And best of all, these diminutive laptops start at around $200 (in some cases $100, when purchased as part of a mobile broadband promotional deal).
But that doesn’t mean a netbook is for everyone. These are basic computing devices that will meet only basic computing needs. If you’re looking to do a little bit of word processing, maybe edit a few simple spreadsheets, and want to surf the Web, a netbook will suffice. But if you’re looking to edit high-resolution photos or work with video, a netbook isn’t for you: These systems have seriously limited processing power. You can listen to some tunes, but don’t expect first-rate sound. And you might be able to watch a few online videos, but you’ll be looking at a relatively tiny screen.
The guys over at PCWorld.com have a really good article on how to buy a netbook. The above quotations were taken from it. You can take a look at the full article here.
If you’re considering built-in mobile broadband in a netbook, you’ll have some special considerations. For instance, you’ll most likely be on the go, maybe working in sunlight, all while functionality & portability will be important. Naturally, since you’re reading this article on a site about mobile broadband it’s pretty safe to assume that you want to get online.
Based on that, here’s what we’re going to cover regarding the Compaq Mini 110:
- Design and Build
- Keyboard Size and Layout
- Screen size, Resolution and Coating
- Operating system
- Hard drive, Processor and Installed Memory
- Mobile Broadband Options
- Where To Get It Super-Cheap
Compaq describes the design as the unity finish. It has somewhat of an executive feel to it. If you’re looking for a bit more flare, check out the HP Mini 110.
It is beyond me as to why this laptop exists.
Allow me to explain.
I’ve scoured the Internet and found no functional difference between the Compaq Mini 110 and the HP Mini 110. It also doesn’t help that they’re made by the same company (Hewlett-Packard).
Like the HP Mini 110, the Compaq Mini 110c has a hard plastic finish with the same dimensions: 10.3" x 6.6" x 1.2". They both weigh approximately 2.6 lbs. making them good travel companions for a briefcase, purse, knapsack or messenger bag. The only thing that the HP Mini has over the Compaq Mini on design is its availability in different colors (black, pink or silver/grey). Compaq, being the budget line of HP laptops, is only available in black.
There are no differences between the Compaq & HP Minis here.
The combination of a 92% sized keyboard alongside a strangely flanked touchpad remains. The fact that it’s so short makes vertical scrolling difficult on long pages. Thankfully, users report adjusting to it quickly enough.
HP took the hint from feedback about the Mini 1000 and put in a full-sized VGA port which allows you to easily hook up the Mini to an external monitor, projector, or HDTV.
They also made improvements in the number of USB ports available (now 3 as opposed to the original 2 seen in the 1151NR). Among other standard ports are the 5-in-1 memory card reader as well as Ethernet port.
There is an integrated 0.3 megapixel Webcam & microphone which is good for Skype or Google voice but not much else. You most certainly will not be uploading any videos in high definition to YouTube.
Check out this video for a hands-on look at the Compaq Mini 110’s ports and other features:
After what seems like an eternity in computer years, HP has finally decided to include an anti-glare screen as standard.
While the regular glossy screens that they included for years look nice in stores, they are downright crappy for everyday use thanks to their incredible ability to double as portable mirrors. It was terrible.
The Compaq Mini 110 packs a 10.1 inch, 1024 x 576 resolution, anti-glare LCD. Unfortunately, there is no upgrade to a high definition (1366 x 768) version. That’s reserved for the HP Mini line.
Like the HP Mini 110-1050NR, the Compaq 110c-1048NR sports Windows XP Home Edition for a predictably reliable experience.
Think of the Compaq Mini as the economical version of the HP Mini. As such, the specs aren’t as spectacular but are still practical:
- Integrated 802.11b/g Wi-Fi Certified, and 3G access to the nation’s fastest 3G network
- Genuine Windows® XP Home Edition
- 1.6 GHz Intel® Atom N270 processor
- Intel UMA 950
- 1 GB RAM (DDR2, 533MHz)
- 160GB 5,400rpm Hard Drive
- 10.1" Display (1024 x 576)
- Spacious Keyboard (92% of standard)
- Integrated Webcam and Mic
- Ports: 3 USB Ports, standard VGA, split Headphone/Mic, 5-in-1 Digital Media Slot, Ethernet
- 6 cell Battery (approx 5.5 hrs)
- 10.3" x 6.6" x 1.2"
- 2.6 pounds
- Microsoft® Office — 60–day trial
- HD Audio stereo speakers
- Wirelessly sync your PC with your Mini so the latest updates of any file are saved in both places with Syncables™ software.
As you can see, it’s pretty much the same specs as the HP Mini 110. No surprise that HP owns Compaq here. The only difference between the two is outside appearance. If I had to pick one, I’d just go for the HP branded version. Hopefully that’d result in slightly better customer service. Otherwise, nothing too different here.
Since the Compaq Mini 110c has built-in mobile broadband by AT&T, here’s what you can expect in the way of plans, pricing, speed and coverage:
AT&T has the highest overage charge of all carriers.While AT&T divides their mobile broadband plans into 3 categories (Blackberries, Laptops & Smartphones), most people interested in mobile broadband will end up with the Laptop Connect plan.
While their Laptop connect plan is $60 for 5 Gigabytes, AT&T has the highest overage charge of all carriers.
Read on to see a chart of how AT&T overage charges can wreck your bank account.
AT&T has ‘the nation’s fastest 3G network. They also seem to have the most data outages.AT&T Wireless broadband speed is advertised as "the nation’s fastest 3G network" with "typical download speeds of 700 Kbps – 1.7 Mbps" and "typical upload speeds of 500 Kbps – 1.2 Mbps".
On paper, that’s faster than the average speeds Sprint, Verizon and T-Mobile provide on their respective 3G networks. Not bad at all.
Unfortunately, a recent Gartner research report shows that AT&T users get half of advertised speeds. Read on for the full details on AT&T mobile broadband speed.
While AT&T doesn’t have the best 3G coverage, they do offer the use of WiFi hotspots for free.AT&T’s Coverage & Reliability is quite the ironic case.
While it’s quite undisputed that AT&T has the best mobile broadband global coverage, their coverage in the United States may leave you wanting more…especially with the multiple data outages.
What’s the point of the ‘fastest 3G network’ if you can’t use it?
Read on to get to the bottom of it.
While AT&T is often advertised as the nation’s fastest 3G network, they also have the Achilles heel of network overload thanks to iPhones and other 3G devices. It won’t be the first or last time we hear of network failures as well as slower than advertised speeds.
Naturally, a full review on AT&T Mobile Broadband is available for your educational pleasure. Be sure to know what you’re getting into before signing on the dotted line. For that reason I encourage everyone to sign up for Mobile Broadband Buyer’s Guide. It’ll explain what you need to know about mobile broadband, before, during and after you buy.
Get The AT&T Compaq Mini 110c Super Cheap
If you’re a regular MBR reader then it will be no surprise about where I’m about to send you.
At the time of this review, HP sells the Compaq Mini line for anywhere from $350 to $450. If you get the HP Mini through our partner LetsTalk, you snag yourself a 1048NR for $149.99 on the spot.
Pick up the Compaq Mini for $149.99 on the spot. That my friends, is an excellent price for a laptop.
But Mobile Broadband Netbooks Are A Terrible Deal Right?
A lot of people around the blogosphere keep crying about how netbooks are a terrible deal based on the following math:
5 GB per month for $60 over two years = $1440
They then state how $1440 for a netbook is a terrible deal.
You know something?
If you were just gonna buy a netbook without mobile broadband and it cost $1440, then you would be getting ripped off in a mini Bernie Madoff kind of way. Here’s the problem with that thinking though:
If you were going to buy a broadband card anyway, then you’d have been paying that amount over two years anyway. And since you were gonna spend the money anyway, you might as well get a free or super-cheap laptop out the deal.
That right there is why this is a sweet deal for mobile-broadband-reviews.com readers like yourself.
You’re already thinking of mobile broadband and a netbook out the deal is bonus to sweeten the deal.
Instead of just getting a broadband card for free, you could get a laptop for near free and get a whole lot more mileage out of it.
So, for the last time, here’s where you can pick up the Compaq configured for AT&T mobile broadband on the cheap.
Need more info? Check out the rest of the mobile broadband reviews.