Author:
Mike Adams
2/27/2009

To finish off Netbook Week, I am taking a look at the HP 1120NR Mini. This netbook is part of HP’s consumer netbook line. This is an even lighter weight more consumer friendly netbook than the HP 2133. The biggest difference between the two (besides the overall look) is the user interface. Let’s take a look at the system specs before I begin.

  • Intel Atom 1.6GHz Processor
  • 16GB Solid State Drive (SSD)
  • 1GB DDR2 SDRAM
  • Intel GMA 950 Graphics Card (w/ 128MB Shared Memory)
  • Integrated Web Cam
  • 802.11 b/g Wireless Card
  • Built-in SD/MMC Media Slot
  • 2 USB 2.0 Ports
  • MIE Operating System (Linux)
  • Weight: 2.45 lbs

So let me begin with the user interface. The previous netbooks reviewed this week all included some form of Windows (XP or Vista). This one however, uses the MIE Operating System, which is basically HP’s version of the Ubuntu…a very popular version of Linux. Why do this? First of all, Ubuntu is free of charge. By including this OS on the machine, the cost of the machine is lower because you do not have to pay for the user license that you would normally pay on a Windows Machine. And normally, Ubuntu is set up to look very much like a Windows environment, but not so with the MIE. With MIE, you get what look very much like a mobile device user interface. All media files are under a media tab, games are under the play tab, open office is under the work tab, etc.

A cool feature included in this Linux is the Package Manager, which allows you to add/remove programs using a wireless connection. This setup is perfect for this type of machine because you do not have an optical drive to install software with. And the actual program itself is very much like iTunes, you can check what programs you want to automatically install, and check what programs you want to delete off your system. It is a really nifty feature.

Why else would HP use Linux versus Windows? This is a netbook, so you will be using it on a lot of open networks. To put it simply, Linux is not NEARLY as susceptible to viruses as a Windows machine. So it makes perfect sense to use a more secure OS for something that will get “attacked” quite a bit. And another cool thing about this machine versus the other netbooks reviewed is that this comes with an Office suite already installed. Sure, it is Open Office (a free office program readily available on the Internet), but this machine comes preloaded with it. You can even save your Open Office document as a “.doc” file and open it in Microsoft Office. I think it is very nice that this comes on your system out of the box.

A couple more positive things is that the keyboard is a full-sized keyboard like the HP 2133. I wish all netbooks came with this keyboard. Also, the battery life is pretty darn good with this netbook. It is only a tiny, light weight 3-cell battery, and it gets approximately 3 hours of battery life. One reason for this good battery life is the fact that Linux uses a lot less power than Windows does. Another plus for Linux.

While all that is nice, there are quite a few downsides as well. The actual HP OS (MIE) is quite buggy out of the box. It had issues with booting up, weird Control-Tab issues, the trackpad locked up several times (and no, I did not turn off the trackpad). Setting up the wireless is a pain vs. the other netbooks. You actually have to go into the settings screen and tell the machine to use wireless Internet (I believe this should have happened out of the box). And while the Linux environment is more secure, consumes less power, etc., it’s not Windows. The masses of people are familiar with Windows, not Linux. And that is a major downside to mass market consumption. Overall though, weighing the good with the bad, this is a nice little machine at a good price (especially considering the fact that you get the 16GB SSD).

Pros:

  • Includes a 16GB SSD!
  • Linux environment is safe, secure, and consumes a lot less power
  • Decent video card
  • Full-sized keyboard
  • Decent battery life
  • Includes an “Office Suite”

Cons:

  • Linux environment is not a Windows environment
  • The HP version of Linux is buggy out of the box
  • No built-in Ethernet port
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