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HP Outs ION Powered Mini 311 Netbook


HP Outs ION Powered Mini 311 Netbook

nVidia's been talking about its ION chipset for many months now but we'd seen limited signs of it in its most eagerly anticipated form factor, the netbook. Today, though, Hewlett Packard officially announced the Mini 311 netbook that will be using nVidia's HD crunching chipset, and we've had a little bit of hands-on time with it.

Coming in an 11.6in form factor, the HP Mini 311 continues the trend of netbooks growing ever larger but we can't say we have many complaints as this still remains a very portable size. Moreover, with the screen boasting a class-leading resolution of 1,366 x 768, it offers a superb compromise between productivity and portability. Even more exciting is the presence of an HDMI output for easily playing back videos on a TV (yes, audio pass-through is supported). Accompanying the HDMI socket are three USB ports, a VGA connection, combined headphone and microphone jacks (minus one point for that move), and a multiformat card reader.

The battery on the model we saw was a 2600mAh unit which will apparently give about six hours battery life, though this will depend heavily on how much HD video viewing and gaming you plan on doing. Above the screen is a webcam and microphone while the only other feature of note is the Wi-Fi button above and to the right of the keyboard. Incidentally, the model we saw was for the American market, which explains the keyboard layout.

ION is nVidia's chipset for supporting Intel's Atom CPUs. It includes much more powerful graphics hardware than the Intel graphics that you normally find in netbooks. With many tasks now able to be offset from the CPU onto the GPU, this combination creates a portable yet still quite powerful platform. In particular, CPU intensive tasks like video transcoding (converting video to the right format and size for your portable media player) or simply watching HD video are now possible on a netbook. You'll even be able to play some games, though not the absolute latest titles (we saw demonstrations of COD4 while games like World Of Warcraft and Battlefield Heroes should be playable too) and even for older games you'll still have to turn the settings down a bit.

So how much will you have to pay for all this new usability? Well, surprisingly little, actually. Prices for the Mini 311 are set to start at £349, though we've yet to confirm what this configuration will be (the model we saw had 3GB RAM, for instance, which we gather won't be commonplace). Still, this could well be the next notebook I buy.




September 15, 2009, 9:04 pm

HP's designers clearly took a wrong turn between the original mininote and this.


September 15, 2009, 10:32 pm

I'm not certain but I believe this isn't the ion that we all love but the crippled ION LE version. May change with windows 7 editions however.

Tony Walker

September 16, 2009, 3:33 am

Equally uncertain but isn't the full version the only one to support HDMI?


September 16, 2009, 1:40 pm

@Xiphias: Why do you say that? It has pretty similar styling. I thought it was rather attractive.

@Andrew and Tony: I do believe it is the LE version but it had HDMI and we saw demos of it playing games and HD video. For me, just some basic graphical prowess is enough to make this highly desirable. DX10 support, or lack there of, is of pretty minimal concern.


September 16, 2009, 1:53 pm

Ion 2, CULV and Windows 7 = Netbook heaven...


September 16, 2009, 2:34 pm

@Max Power:

1. That simply wouldn't be a netbook anymore, it would be an ultra portable because...

2. CULV has a huge price premium over Atom - the difference between a £350 and £500 machine.


September 16, 2009, 2:56 pm

$44 for an Atom N270, $134 for a CULV Celeron SU2300. Hardly £150...

Oh, and just because it's called Celery, doesn't mean it runs like crap, they SU2300 is far and away the better processor when compared to the Atom N270.


September 16, 2009, 3:49 pm

Trust me, in terms of end user cost when integrated into a system, £150 is the sort of difference you'll be looking at. The question was asked of nVidia and HP and that was the figure we were given. Just look at current CULV notebook prices: http://www.trustedreviews.com/...


September 16, 2009, 10:57 pm

Ah, I wasn't aware of that!

Still £500 for a small laptop of that calibre will still be on my shopping list come April next year (bonus time!).


March 10, 2010, 4:36 pm

I have this netbook and I have to say I absolutely love it, its an excellent blend of portability and power in my opinion as the size of the laptop means that I can easily slip it into my bag when im out an about, plus the ION graphics means that it is more than capable of playing back HD videos and also some light gaming from the "last generation" of games (for example Medieval 2:Total War, Mount & Blade, Arma ect)

Excellent value at under £300 as it is now direct from HP, I got lucky and got it when there was an offer for £250 and at that price it was a steal.

With regards to the ION LE comments, thats just a software thing, it can be fixed:


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