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HP has taken a circuitous route in the netbook market. It started out with its business focussed HP 2133 Mini-Note PC, which while regarded as one of the best looking and best made netbooks around, was short on power and longevity. Sometime later it released the HP Compaq Mini 700 and with it eschewed the conventions laid down by other manufacturers, opting for a less is more approach and a classy look and feel. With the HP Compaq Mini 110c, HP appears to have relented to market pressure with a more conventional proposition.
While it's based on the Compaq Mini 700, closer inspection reveals plenty of differences. The 110c is now chunkier and houses a proper VGA output instead of the mini variety from before, and in general the materials feel a little cheaper, with a coarser matte black plastic finish and no 'frameless' display. At least in the latter case this could be construed as an improvement, since the 10in, 1,024 x 576 resolution display has an anti-glare finish more conducive to outdoor use.
Overall, though, this remains an attractive and well put together machine. While the glossy lid does attract the usual grease and grime, it's not repeated on the body of the machine like many recent efforts. It's also a sturdy feeling device, so should be able to survive a few bumps and scrapes.
Lifting the lid reveals an interior largely unchanged from before, which is good news where the keyboard is concerned. Stretching right to the edges of the chassis, the 92 per cent full-size keys are great to type on, proving both roomy and positive in action. Our pre-production unit came with a US style Return key, but expect that to change on those shipped to customers.
Unfortunately, one thing that's unchanged is the touchpad, where the buttons remain on either side. This has always been a slightly awkward arrangement, although it is one you do get accustomed to. All the same, if HP really wanted to it could surely use a better layout, especially considering the buttons can interfere with typing from time to time.