Meet the HP Mini 5103

Netbooks are all so similar in terms of performance that it’s difficult to get excited about reviewing “yet another netbook”. Aesthetics and build quality may change, but outside of features like NG-ION or the use of an SSD, there’s not much new under the sun. However, one Atom variant that we haven’t had a chance to actually test in house is the dual-core Atom N550. With support for DDR3 memory and a second Hyper-Threaded core, can this “high-end” Atom change our feelings? If you read our ASUS 1215N review, you probably already know the answer, but it’s always good to get concrete numbers.

Besides being our first look at a dual-core Atom N550 netbook, HP’s Mini 5103 packs in just about every other extra you can imagine. The test unit includes a multi-touch 1366x768 display, 2GB DDR3, Bluetooth, Gigabit Ethernet, and a Broadcom Crystal HD decoder—just in case you want to watch a 1080p H.264 movie on your 10.1” LCD. As with the Mini 5102, the 5103 is also one of the best looking and well-built netbooks to hit our labs. Unfortunately, the pricing puts it into the realm of much faster ultraportables, but if you want the combination of features HP provides—and your company is willing to foot the bill—it’s a decent little machine.

HP Mini 5103 Specifications
Processor Intel Atom N550
(2x1.50GHz + SMT, 45nm, 2x512KB L2, 667FSB, 8.5W)
Chipset Intel NM10
Memory 1x2048MB DDR3-1333 @ DDR3-667 5-5-5-15 Timings
Graphics Integrated Intel GMA 3150
Display 10.1" Multi-touch LED Matte 16:9 768p (1366x768)
Hard Drive 2.5" 160GB 7200RPM 16MB
(Western Digital WD1600BEKT-60V5T1)
Networking Marvel Yukon 88E8059 PCIe Gigabit Ethernet
Broadcom BCM4313 802.11b/g/n WiFi
Broadcom 2070 Bluetooth 2.1
WWAN (Optional)
Audio IDT 92HD75B2X5 2-Channel HD Audio
(2.0 Speakers with headphone/microphone jacks)
Battery 4-Cell, 14.8V, 1900mAh, 29Wh
Front Side None (Speaker Grille)
Left Side 2 x USB 2.0
Heat Exhaust
AC Power Connection
Right Side SD/MMC reader
Microphone/Headphone Jacks
Gigabit Ethernet
1 x USB 2.0
Kensington Lock
Back Side None
Operating System Windows 7 Professional 32-bit
Dimensions 10.3" x 7.09" x 0.91" (WxDxH)
Weight 2.64 lbs (with 6-cell battery)
Extras 2.0MP Webcam
82-key keyboard
Broadcom Crystal HD (Optional)
Office 2010 Starter
HP DayStarter
HP QuickSync HP QuickWeb
HP ProtectTools
Warranty 1-year standard warranty
Price Starting at $399
As configured: around $688

Outside of the change to the CPU and memory, about the only other noteworthy update compared to the older 5102 is the move to an espresso (dark brown) finish. HP informs us that this was done in response to customer feedback, and the espresso color doesn’t show fingerprints quite as much as the old black. We do have to point out  a few items on our test system that we could no longer find on the HP site. First, our netbook shipped with Windows 7 Professional as opposed to Starter or Home Premium. Second, it has a 768p multi-touch LCD, while we could only find a 1024x600 multi-touch option online now.

With all the upgrades in place, the final price comes in just under $700. For that much money, you can find a wide variety of netbooks and laptops, but HP includes some other value added items you won’t find in most netbooks. As with the 5102, build quality and the keyboard are substantially better than any other netbook we’ve encountered, which adds to the cost. The basic model at $400 lets you get just the build quality and a typical Atom N455 + 1GB DDR3 setup. If you want more, you have to go to a configurable model and start choosing extras (with prices starting at $522). Unless you get a discount code or other special offer, the configurable models carry a hefty price premium; luckily, such codes are frequently available, and you can always try calling HP direct to see if they can make you a better offer.)

Breaking down the upgrades: $40 moves you up to Win7 Home Premium (and Professional would cost even more!), and you also need $25 for the 2GB RAM upgrade (not available with Win7 Starter); add $25 for a 768p LCD, and an additional $25 to go to 600p with capacitive multi-touch; the CrystalHD decoder is a big add-on at $45, and Bluetooth is another $18; finally, the N550 model costs $20 more than the N455 version. Put it all together and you basically get what you pay for—provided you think the starting price is acceptable. As a point of reference, the ASUS Eee 1015PEM-MU17 starts at around $340 online, with an Atom N550 and 1GB, but it lacks Bluetooth, Gigabit Ethernet, and several other features on the HP. Barring any other discounts, you’re looking at a nearly $200 premium to move to the 5103.

As a parting shot on pricing, you can also find pre-configured HP Mini 5103 netbooks from a variety of resellers; the cheapest starts at $384, and it looks like Atom N550 would only bump the price up around $40. Unfortunately, no one appears to offer any pre-configured N550 models, so you have to go straight to the source. We’ve heard comments in the past that suggest you can get substantially better pricing on the configurable models if you call HP (one reader claimed a 28% discount on an EliteBook), so if you’re in the market for this type of netbook it can’t hurt to call; $500 would be far more impressive than the current $700 price tag.

HP Mini 5103 Subjective Evaluation
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  • evident - Friday, December 17, 2010 - link

    Who in their right mind would buy a crippled laptop for $384. There are so many better choices of machines out there, such as the ULV C2D laptops
  • tehslax - Sunday, December 19, 2010 - link

    Its almost a scam.
    I have a asus dual core atom netbook(selling on ebay)
    The performance is only SLIGHTLY faster than single core atoms
    I wanted something portable but the loss in performance is completely frustrating
    Ended up buying a thinkpad x201, yes its more expensive but I got protability with power

    The netbook platform is a joke...
  • Shadowmaster625 - Friday, December 17, 2010 - link

    ...And the ship of sanity sails yet further away into the horizon. At what point does this absurdity become apparent to everyone? $1200? $2500? Hell HP should market a $10,000 crappy atom netbook just to see how many true suckers there are out there. I for one would like to know once and for all. Never mind that a K125 netbook costs $300 and can outdo this thing in every measurable category.

    So why dont we have more AMD design wins? I hope everyone understands why by now. It is because the guys who make the decisions on what chips to use.... well you know they all own 50 times as much Intel stock as they do AMD (if they own any AMD at all). That's because Intel is a DOW component. So if they have any money then chances are part of it is invested in Intel. So of course they're going to use Intel parts for the majority of designs, regardless of how craptastic they are. A $45 crystal HD decoder? Can I get a WTF? What kind of idiotic hare brained pipe dream hackjob solution is that? I bet broadcom execs bribed intel execs to make NM10 especially crappy just so Broadcom could sell a bunch of junk chips that dont even work right. Does an AMD chipset even cost that much?

    Who decided that it somehow makes sense to waste $45 on a crackheaded patchjob HD video solution when they could just use an AMD chipset, which is cheaper anyway, and then dump that $45 into a larger battery?
  • erwos - Friday, December 17, 2010 - link

    The pricing is absurd. The Asus 1210N and 1015PN come in way below that, even upgraded to match specs.

    Hell, my refurb Alienware M11x cost less.
  • lgpOnTheMove - Friday, December 17, 2010 - link

    HP has the 11.6" dm1z Nile netbook. It's without a doubt the best netbook as far as performance is concerned, and not much bigger or heavier than a 10" Mini 210.

    I'm actually surprised why HP hasn't made an enterprise 11.6" netbook. I would love to see the Nile platform inside a chassis like the 5103.
  • seanleeforever - Friday, December 17, 2010 - link

    okay. Jarred, do you really think this keyboard is "the best 10” keyboard I’ve ever used". I had a HP Mini 210, not 5103, but something that has the exact same keyboard. it is easily the WORST keyboard i have used (i give it to my cousin the second day because of it). and it has nothing to do with the keyboard built. it has to do with stupid keys themselves. and i simply cannot understand why this review doesn't even mention this gigantic flaw (unless they changed it in 5103, which i doubt)

    the smart HP engineers thought no one use F keys, as a result, the secondary function of "F" keys are swapped with the primary function. confusing? let me give you an example.

    say you want to close a program by ctrl + F4, perform a search by pressing F3, refresh website using F5, or go to address bar using F6, or full screen using F11. you cannot do it. you have to press fn + F keys to do. i mean, unless you are totally newb who doesn't use any shortcut keys, this laptop is simply unusable. to close an application i now have to press fn+ctrl+f4. some more complicated actions such as print word doc ("Ctrl + Shift + F12") now is unachievable thanks to this stupid keyboard.

    NOW. as i learned later on there is a way to solve it, and that is going to BIOS. but why doesn't HP make it default? and not every computer you use will give you the access to BIOS. and how many end user actually know this trick?
    all in all, giant flaw, i repeat. GIANT FLAW.
  • JarredWalton - Friday, December 17, 2010 - link

    I don't know about the 210, but I did try the Mini 311 and it's definitely not the same keyboard. Also, as you mention you can switch the functionality of the F keys in the BIOS, which is something I did almost immediately. Dell and a few others have tried the same thing for some reason... blame silly UI consultants. That said, the "best 10" keyboard" is still a far cry from a good 13.3" keyboard. :-)
  • Belard - Saturday, December 18, 2010 - link

    Its a reason I don't like Microsoft keyboards as the default settings for F-function are swapped for something else "Launch Word" "Launch Browser" etc. So after every time you boot up, you have to press the F-Lock key to turn on Normal F-Keys.

    I think the big-boys have done market research and found that most of todays users, especially younger generation, don't really make much use of F-Keys. Look at the ChromeOS netbooks for example... even doing away with the CAPS-Lock (which is understandable, if they simply make Holding the SHIFT key for a second turned it into a lock).
  • Jackattak - Friday, December 17, 2010 - link

    $688 for a netbook is obscene. I don't care what freakin' market you're in for a portable PC or what "selection of features" you're looking for. Anyone stupid enough to spend that kind of money on a freakin' netbook deserves to be a victim of a Justin Bieber concert teenage girl stampede.
  • Malih - Friday, December 17, 2010 - link

    I think that price is only when you have opted for multi touch screen, and multi touch NOTEbook is priced higher than $688, cmiiw

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