Screenwise, bigger is better. Once your buddy’s invited you over to watch the game on his 50-inch flat screen, your 32-inch TV will look puny forevermore. A movie in IMAX packs a bigger wallop than anything else at your local megaplex. And in a sea of netbooks, most with 10.1-inch displays, an extra inch and a half makes a surprisingly likable difference.
To be sure, no one is going to mistake the 11.6-inch screen of the HP Mini 311 for IMAX. But it’s sunny and sharp, with crisp colors (as long as you stick to the top couple of brightness settings), and its 1,366 by 768 resolution is noticeably more roomy than the 1,024 by 600 pixels of most 10.1-inch ultraportables. Web pages and applications don’t appear squashed or truncated, and there’s room for 720p high-definition videos.
There’s sufficient video processing power for 720p videos, too, thanks to Nvidia’s Ion graphics platform, a replacement for the wretched GMA 950 integrated graphics of most first-generation Intel Atom netbooks.
The Mini 311 uses the original, system-memory-borrowing Ion, not the faster, dedicated-memory Ion 2 that premiered earlier this week at the CeBIT trade show. It’s not strong enough to play the latest, most gorgeous games (although it’ll play older ones at low resolution; Quake III Arena managed 117 frames per second at 1,024 by 768), and it’s not a CAD powerhouse (it took the same eternity, about 18 minutes, to render Cinebench R10‘s sample scene as GMA 950 netbooks, and eked out 4 fps in Cinebench R11.5’s OpenGL test).
Read the rest at Hardware Central.