Verizon HP Mini 1151NR Netbook Review
By Sandy Berger on December 23, 2009
Verizon wireless is known as a mobile phone company. So the idea of Verizon offering a netbook with integrated mobile broadband service is unique. The HP’s Mini 1151NR is the first netbook offered directly from Verizon. So we decided to take a look. If successful, this will the first of what may be a highly-imitated offering. Verizon is selling the netbook at a subsidized price of USD 199 with a two-year contract for data services. The data services carry a monthly charge of either USD 39 or USD 59.
Updated 12/28/2009: We got the following info from Verizon PR agency after we questioned them why we couldn't find this product on their website.
"Thank you for reaching out to me today regarding the HP Mini Netbook 1151 NR and letting me know that information about the device is not available on the Verizon Wireless website. I found out why you are not able to find a link to this product on the Verizon Wireless website - the HP Mini 1151 NR was so popular that it sold out and is currently out of stock. Verizon Wireless offered the HP Mini 1151 for USD 29.99 (after rebate, two-year agreement and data plan activation) as a Black Friday special on November 27. The product was so popular at that price that the supply was depleted very quickly. To date, this product is officially sold out, and I do not have any information if it will be reordered or restocked (it is available on Amazon.com -- Gabriel Torres). Please note that Verizon Wireless has several other Netbook products available."
Updated 12/29/2009: Continuing our quest about the availability of this netbook, the reviewer, Sandy Berger, went to a local Verizon Wireless store and could find this netbook being sold there. So it seems the availability problems is only on their website, not on the physical stores. (Gabriel Torres)
As shown in figure 1, the HP Mini 1151NR comes in a small black cardboard case with a plastic handle.
Inside the box, as shown in Figure 2, you find a large fold-out setup instruction guide, a limited warranty card, a small booklet with printer driver information, a small notebook Essentials Guide, a pad of notebook paper with the HP logo, an Ethernet cable, and the two-part power cable. Also included is the netbook itself, which is shown in Figure 3.
While the NoteBook Essentials pamphlet has some valuable information, it assumes that you are hooking up to the Internet either wired or through Wi-Fi and does not give any instructions about the mobile access. You fully realize that this package was prepared only for the HP Mini and not customized for Verizon when you see the included Ethernet cable. Why would you need it if you are using the broadband access? Also, somewhat ironically, even the printer driver information brochure seems ill-fit. It tells you to “insert the printer driver installation CD” when this netbook has no CD-ROM drive.
Take note that the SetUp Guide will lead you to the online User Guides which may be useful, especially if you are new to netbooks.
As you can see in Figure 3, the HP Mini 1151NR, like the Mini 1000, is small and well-designed. At just less than 1” (2.5 cm) thick, the HP Mini has one of the thinnest netbook cases, yet it feels very sturdy. At 2.45 lbs (1.11 kg), it is lightweight and extremely portable. The small dimensions of the Mini (10.3” x 6.56” x 0.99” or 26.1 x 16.6 x 2.5 cm) means you can easily carry it in a large purse or small briefcase.
As you can also see in Figure 3, the shiny black case has a subtle swirl design that is attractive for both male and female users.
A netbook, by nature of its size and compactness, will have some negatives, but HP has done a fairly nice job in creating a useable netbook.
As shown in Figure 4, the front of the Mini has two switches. On the left is the lighted power switch. On the right is the lighted wireless switch. Both are slider switches which are useable, but a bit difficult to maneuver.
Figure 5 shows the left side of the Mini. At the left you will see the power connector port and one USB port. On the right you will see an expansion port, a combination headphone/microphone jack, and the Ethernet jack, which is covered by a rubber door. The expansion port can be used as a VGA port, but requires a USD 30 adapter. While the headphone/microphone combo port will be okay for most users, those with specific audio needs need to be aware that this is a combo port.
One problem that we had with our Mini is that the power cable constantly slid out of the connector port. No matter how firmly we thought we had inserted it, it constantly fell out. While this may not seem like a major flaw, it turned out to be quite disconcerting. When seated with the netbook on our lap, every time we moved, the power cable fell out. When on a table or desk, the power cable dislodged whenever the computer was moved, even slightly. We cannot say that this is a problem on every Mini unit, but we noticed other complaints about this on message boards throughout the web. So it is something you will want to check out before you bring that Mini home.
The right side of the Mini is shown in Figure 6. It contains an SD/MMC card reader and another USB port. At the far right are two holes that can be used to connect a security lanyard.
Although many netbooks have three USB ports, this one has only two. However, since the broadband access is built-in, you won’t have to use a USB port for an external mobile access device. We like the fact that there was one USB port on each side of the computer.
As shown in Figure 7, the HP Mini 1151NR has a 10.1” wide-screen display with a native resolution of 1,024 x 576. The screen has a full glass overlay that makes it sharp and clear, but produces quite a bit of glare.
The 1,024 x 576 resolution is a bit problematic. This is not a “normal” resolution, so some software will be looking for an 800 x 600 resolution and will have trouble installing. This is why HP included the small brochure labeled “Important Printer Driver Information.” Some printers, including HP printers realize that the Mini doesn’t meet the minimum screen resolution requirements and will not install the print drivers. The instruction booklet gives the work-around for this. However we remain puzzled by why HP would do this and a bit aggravated by having to go through more than 10 extra steps to get an HP print driver installed.
Above the screen in Figure 7 you can see the built-in webcam. This is a nice feature, but you may have to search through the online help files to figure out how to use it.
Just to the left of the webcam is a small hole which is the internal microphone. The silver, mesh-looking integrated speaker bar can also be seen in Figure 7 between the keyboard and the screen.
While some netbook manufacturers skimp on the size of the keyboard, the Mini’s keyboard, shown in Figure 8, is quite good. It is 92% of the size of a normal keyboard and the flat keys have a nice tactile feel. We recommend that you try the keyboard on a netbook before you buy. However, we were quite pleased with this one.
What we weren’t pleased about is the touchpad, also shown in Figure 8. It is rectangular, wider than high. This results in the mouse buttons being positioned too far to the left and right and in not having enough room for upward and downward motions. We also felt the touchpad was not as responsive as it should be.
The HP mini comes with a plethora of networking options which include the Verizon broadband access, Ethernet, 802.11 b/g and Bluetooth. All worked well in our testing. The Verizon access was speedy enough for most normal computing projects.
Like other netbooks, the Mini is not made for high end photo processing or other processor-intensive tasks. It is meant for email, Web browsing, and light office productivity. The Mini performed admirably at these tasks. YouTube videos played quite well.
The Mini 1151NR comes with a three-cell battery so it doesn't have a very long battery life. During normal use, we couldn’t get it to run for more than about 2 hours without recharging.
Access to the battery is on the bottom of the computer, shown in Figure 9. The large battery bay seen on the top of the Figure is released with a latch below the bay. Under the battery bay is the memory module compartment.
Like other netbooks of this type, there is not optical drive. So if you need to access data from CDs or DVDs you will have to add the cost of an external drive to your budget.
Verizon’s HP Mini 1151NR comes with Windows XP Home Edition. It comes with several software programs pre-installed. These include Microsoft Works, Internet Explorer, Adobe Reader, FlashPlayer, Windows Media Player, AOL AIM for instant messaging and a 60-trial of Symantec Norton Internet Security. Since these programs are already installed, the Mini is pretty much good to go right out of the box.
The Verizon VZAccess Manager software is also pre-installed. It can be automatically updated upon first use. The VZAccess Manager software controls access to both the cellular network and any local Wi-Fi networks. Unfortunately, we could find no instructions on its use. So we muddled through, finding that is was adequate, but could be easier to use.
One nice feature is that the VZAccess Manager Displays data usage when you log on. Since you are limited to the amount of data that you can use on your monthly data plan, this is a very good thing. Verizon currently offers two data plans -- USD 39 for 250 MB of monthly data and USD 59 for 5 GB of data. Although 5 GB sounds like a lot, we used it up quite quickly and learned to use the Wi-Fi whenever we could. We would like to see the amount of data increased, but in deference to Verizon, their 5 GB data plan is exactly what some other carriers offer in their “unlimited” plans. So at least Verizon doesn’t play with words.
Support on the hardware is offered by HP and includes the industry-standard, one-year, parts-and-labor warranty. HP has a 24/7 toll-free phone line and an online knowledge base. Support for the broadband connection and the VZAccess software is provided by Verizon.
HP Mini 1151NR Netbook main specifications are:
A netbook is a great tool to give you quick access to the Internet and email and to perform simple computer tasks. This one is small, lightweight and good-looking. With the Verizon access built-in, it takes connectivity to another level, allowing you access to the Internet from almost anywhere. This accessibility, of course, comes with a price. Unfortunately, data plans from all carriers are currently expensive. Yet if you need to access the Internet, it may be worth the price. With Verizon subsidizing the cost of the equipment, you do get some savings.
While the HP Mini 1151NR has a good screen and keyboard, two things keep us from recommending it. The loose power cable connection caused constant aggravation and the unusual screen resolution caused several problems.