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I'll get it out of the way nice and early; I don't like netbooks. Indeed, they once appealed to me somewhat, but now I hold firm the view that they are completely, and utterly, silly. Irritatingly small, inexcusably slow, and generally rather incapable, they seem rather pointless to me. I may well have a slightly biased opinion, due to the fact that most it stems from the netbook in question, which has warped my once neutral opinion into a horribly negative one - but moan I shall no longer, until I have put forth my evidence, and then a judgement will be made.
So, the question you're all dying to know the answer to; why on earth did I buy it? I didn't. I run song words/presentations/videos at my church, and was presented with this oversized pocket calculator, or as I have since been informed, Compaq Mini netbook, to perform such operations with. As it was given to me, I have no original purchase price for you, but I believe the figure was around the £200 mark, as it remains now. A smile spread across my face when I was given an actual laptop replacement a couple of weeks ago and could finally say farewell to the Mini, but before we went our separate ways I thought I better give it one last chance - and what better way to do so than a review?!
So, all important first impressions. Where is it? Oh, there it is! Even for a netbook, it really is tiny. The screen is a measly 10.1", which is horrendously small. It's an LED backlit TFT monitor, meaning you get a much crisper picture, but it's not LCD, and being so small it's difficult to appreciate. You won't get the screen resolution any higher than 1024x600 pixels, which means that even the generous page widths of the BBC website will only just fit on the screen (apart from, of course, if you zoom out to make it unreadable). This netbook does, however, fit* in my trouser** pocket, which I guess is a bonus for those who don't have any pencil cases, sorry, netbook cases to hand (*it sticks out rather precariously. **fleece joggers, not jeans - that would be impressive!). With small size comes small weight, and at just 1.17 kilograms, it really is a feather; very useful for portability, but not so useful when sat on your lap, as it almost becomes a balancing act to make it stay put at times.
First impressions appear to be, rather unavoidably, focussed on the size. However, it doesn't actually look too bad (though considering its size, there's not much to look at even if you don't like it). The exterior is a glossy plastic black, which actually works quite well, with very light grey circles spread across the black, but hidden until you have a closer look. Apart from the horrible Compaq logo it looks rather fetching! However, it's when you open it up that the reality hits; your phone screen probably is bigger than the one before you, and that keyboard is so crammed in that one of the keys will probably ping out and hit you in the eye at at any moment. The interior casing is horrid, a rough, unpleasant plastic which doesn't act nicely as a palm-rest at all. But hey, it's a netbook; all about good value and no frills net browsing - so let's turn it on...
I said, let's turn it on. It's odd, it really is. On the central horizontal side, you have two flick-switches, very similar to that of laptop old screen clips which you would have slide simultaneously whilst lifting to bring up the screen. To turn this netbook on, you have to flick the left switch (the right operates the wireless - you know, in case you want to turn it off. Yes, in case you want to turn off the wireless on your NETbook). It really is peculiar - no big round button, not even a small round button - a flick-switch. Ridiculous.
On, and a torch-like light beams out of the switch (which is very irritating at eye level), and the screen brings forth to you the very retro Windows XP. Old school, oh yes, though very much preference over the failure that was Windows Vista. Do note that the screen seems quite liable to attracting dirt, so be sure to make sure you give it a regular clean and try to avoid getting fingers on it.
Once you've established where the screen is, it's time to start browsing the web! It's the netbook's time to shine! Or...not. I know I've made quite a point about the size of the screen already but it really does make browsing difficult, and not just because of the width. In fact the main problem is the length. You constantly find yourself scrolling up and down, and this is something you tend not to appreciate with notebooks and desktops - it's a pain and it slows you down awfully.
Being such a small unit there were obviously space limitations when it came to fitting the touchpad, which is, as you've guessed, small. Small touchpad means more finger wagging to navigate through pages, which can only be resolved by jacking the scroll speed to full whack, which, unless mastered like a circus act, incidentally slows you down further as you try to slow the thing down again to click on that little link in the corner of the page to which you've just taken five minutes to scroll down to! Sigh.
Unfortunately, things don't get better with the keyboard either. On first glance, it looks like the guys at Compaq have done well to fit everything in rather comfortably. However, the keys are poor, and whilst none have fallen off, appear to be stuck on with some PVA glue and a spring, in that they are very wobbly and aligned poorly too. The keys are far too close together, and touch-typing is a nightmare. On the other hand, one point is awarded for a full size back space key.
Performance wise, I could just say it's a netbook, and you'd have your answer. The Mini boasts a 1.6 GHz Intel Atom Processor, which does OK, but it's by no means full steam ahead. Projecting videos was often a struggle, with HD or even relatively high quality videos a no-go. Programme performance was relatively good on the whole, but start-up from dead is, traditionally with Windows, slow. It has 1GB of RAM, which is about average, and 160GB of hard drive space, the suitability of which is really down to your needs. With no DVD drive, gaming and watching DVDs are out of the question anyway; however, should you oddly decide to invest in an external hard drive, then make sure it is just for the latter. I've not bothered testing any games, but really, it would be embarrassing if I did. It's a netbook. Simple as.
One of the real let downs for this netbook is battery life. These days you can make a netbook out of pastry and no-one will bat an eyelid as long as the battery life is decent - with the Mini though, it is particularly poor. Claiming to be give up to three hours battery life, it's more like two to two and a half. Charging is quite slow too, though I'm going to be generous and put that partially down to the fact that this is now ageing. Despite being quite an old model however, the battery life is inexcusable, and it's not a surprise that they fail to make much of a point of it. Unless you're planning to use this in the house as a notebook replacement/alternative with a socket readily available, then this ultimately could be the final blow that leads you to deciding to look elsewhere.
There is a positive in that the Mini seems to do quite well at keeping itself cool, although in all fairness, there's not a lot there to get hot over. One feature included that I haven't mentioned is the awful webcam, so there's the mention. There's a useful 5-in-1 card reader thrown in, and they do manage to provide three USB hubs, which is rather good. It's worth mentioning that the VGA connection is very poor indeed, with no screws (which in fairness is unsurprising), but for some reason far too much close casing. What I mean by this is that instead of cutting it back slightly around the VGA connection to allow for input, the connection is ridiculously enclosed, making the cable very liable to fall out (many, many times). It's a terrible flaw. The speakers on the other hand are quite good for a netbook, or even for a notebook, though they're nothing to behold as such, and as with any such device, I suggest you just invest in some decent headphones or external speakers.
Overall, it's just not something I can recommend, and that's not because I don't like netbooks. If you want something that can be used portably, and particularly for browsing the web and managing documents, then by all means, a netbook may be for you - but it's when a netbook can't even set out to meet those criteria that I really get annoyed. The screen, despite being LED backlit, is far too small, whilst the tiny touchpad and awful keys make navigating tiresome and slow, not to mention trying to type up documents. The poor VGA connection and silly little front flick-switches do nothing for the design of the thing, and though it's a feather, the horrendous battery life means that even portability is limited. It's a netbook, that for me, can't even serve as one, which is I why I just cannot recommend it to anyone. Good riddance to it.
I don't want to leave things on a sour note though, so I shall recall a quote from my girlfriend, from when she first saw the Mini; "Aw, it's so cute!", she said. To which I replied, "What is, where? I still don't see anything..."
My husband saw this on sale for £170 and couldn't resist the bargain. I had been using an HP laptop with 15" screen and he assured me I would love having something more compact.
It is very small 26 x 17cm and looks very smart - shiny black. It is also light and therefore the perfect netbook if you want something to carry around with you. It would fit in my large handbags if I were to take it out and the weight would not be an issue.
The screen size was a shock after having a 15". This is 10" and therefore I have to do much more scrolling up and down. However I only use it for emails and web browsing and I got used to it very quickly.
Battery power is good - it holds it well enabling me to carry it around the house without permanently sitting next to a plug socket.
The keys are a good size and I quickly got used to the keyboard size.
Obviously this doesn't come with a CD Drive but you can plug all sorts of external devices in and it hasn't been a problem.
THere is a webcam which I have yet to use but is another nice to have feature.
The hard drive is plenty big enough for me - you can save all sorts of photos, music downloads etc without slowing anything down.
I love my little netbook and recommend one for anyone who needs a pc on the go.
I bought this netbook as an extra pc when my wife and I were both studying. She managed to do her NVQ level 4 on this computer. Most netbooks have this spec of Atom 1.6GHz processor, 1 GB RAM and 160GB hard drive what sets them apart is the other features. I tried out a number of netbooks before choosing this one. This is because the keys are bigger, there is a port for sending the screen picture to an external monitor (At the time I could find this on no other netboook) and it has a card reader. It is fantastic so long as you bear in mind the obvious limitations of the size and the hardware they can squeeze into something that size. It is great for internet/light office/watching DVD's (Though you need an external DVD player at extra cost to do this) but if you are wanting to use hefty applications or have any intention of editing video do not get this it was not made for that purpose. Also the camera is ok but is terrible in low light and the led does not help so you need to bear this in mind if you want to skype plenty of light needed! I would definitely recommend this to anyone. If you are tempted by the 11 inch netbooks I tried a couple and the keyboards bend when you type!!
I have owned the Compaq Mini for quite a few months now, and it has never failed to impress me. It is small and lightweight, making it an ideal companion for students at college/university like myself, but would also sort the business user thanks to its sleek looks. The screen is bright and vibrant, and usually well visible even in sunny outdoor conditions. One limiting factor, however, is the screen resolution, which is a maximum of 1024 x 576 pixels, though I have never found this to be an issue. Whilst still on the subject of the display, one annoying thing I have found with the netbook is that when an external VGA output is connected, the screen cannot be used concurrently, meaning that it's not possible to dual-screen. Having said that, this won't affect the majority of users and is only a minor niggle. The webcam built in above the screen is of acceptable quality, though the light next to it is certainly not the brightest. The integrated SD card slot is very useful, and storage space on the 160gb hard drive is ample for most users. The Intel Atom 1.6ghz paired with 1gb of RAM performs admirably when running Windows XP. Battery life is good, around 3 hours in most circumstances. The keyboard on this netbook is also, in my opinion, the best in its class, and is the reason why I purchased this particular netbook.
This is a well smart little netbook the storage is good you can put more then a 1000 songs on if your a music lover and also surf the net fast. This is good if you on the go and want to use it anywhere you like and you could put it in a small bag its so small and discreet people wont know you got a fast loading computer. If your a photographer its good for you because you can put your sd card straight into the computer and there you go you can upload and also print off if you got a wireless printer or a printer what could go into the usb port.