We’re giving one of these away to one lucky back-to-school student! You should check it out.

The Mini 1000 was the only computer I’ve ever had that got me a phone number. If I set up in a coffee shop, girls would strike up random conversations about it – like I was walking a cute dog through the park. That’s a testament to just how slick that thing was. The Mini 110 is a slightly updated version of the Mini 1000. I don’t believe that HP sells the 1000 anymore but the modifications are mostly for the best and I still highly recommend this computer. In fact, I demand that every student has one – even if that means having a second computer. And at $279, you can definitely afford it.

A netbook is not going to do a lot of extremely heavy-lifting for you, but if all you need is email, word processing, spread sheets, internet, AIM – simple tasks – I recommend a netbook, and I recommend the HP Mini 110.

The feel

This is why the Mini 110 kills. It’s small enough to fit in a purse or a big cargo pocket. It’s light enough to pick up in one hand. You’ll never understand the freedom of a small laptop until you experience one this tiny.

In spite of its size, the biggest highlight: the keyboard. This is really a writer’s computer and it has the smartest keyboard layout I’ve ever seen. It takes a little getting used to since it’s off-center with the screen, but the keys feel full-size even though they’re slightly shrunken. The track pad has the buttons moved to either side, a clever space-saver that’s never bothered me.

The screen is small – a given. But as long as you don’t have many toolbars and you’re not multi-tasking, it’s all you need.

The technical stuff

There’s no CD or DVD drive. That might hold you back a bit. But think hard – when was the last time you needed one?

There’s 160GB of space which is plenty for the average student – that’s enough for a ton of music and a little video. If this is your second computer, you might opt for the 8GB solid state drive which is more robust and faster, but doesn’t cost extra.

For $50 more ($329 total) you can opt for the Mini with Windows XP as opposed to HP’s “custom” operating system (“Mi”), which frankly, sucks. It’s tolerable, though, if $50 is a lot to you. HP’s operating system will restrict the new software you can install and it’s littered with frustrating bugs and quirks.

The improvements

If you’re already familiar with the Mini 1000, you might just want to know what’s new in the 110. Here’s the deal.

  • It’s a little larger and heavier – by amounts that you’ll never notice.
  • The screen has a matte finish, which diffuses reflections. Nice.
  • The battery is mounted in the back of the computer instead of the bottom, which tilts the whole unit up and makes it awkwardly shaped – but fits double the capacity.
  • It has a VGA out (largely useless) and an exta USB port (for 3 total).
  • The headphone jack audio no longer sucks.

You must be a dedicated reader… Well, FYI, you might want to tune in to our Twitter accounts this evening if you’d like a shot at winning this computer! And have your running shoes on…