I spent a few hours last night with an HP Mini 110 1012NR. It’s a model with a 16 GB solid state drive (no spinning mechanical hard drive) and Windows XP.

My biggest beef is the keyboard. It’s undersized, and I can’t touch type on it. Try it out before you buy one.

The rest of the system isn’t bad, but there are some things you’ll want to do with it.The system acted weird until I removed Norton Antivirus 2009. By weird, I’m talking not staying on the network, filesystem errors, chkdsk running on reboot, and enough other goofiness that I was ready to take the thing back as defective. The system stabilized as soon as I removed Norton Antivirus, and stayed stable after I installed ESET NOD32.

The system also ran a lot faster.

Don’t believe the hype about Norton Antivirus 2009. Use ESET NOD32. This is the second HP laptop in a month that’s given me Norton Antivirus-related problems.

McAfee is better, but only sufficiently better to use if your ISP is giving it to you for free. I still think NOD32 is worth the $40 it costs. The Atom CPU in the Mini 110 feels like a Pentium 4 with NOD32 installed. It feels like a Pentium II or 3 with something else installed.

The SSD isn’t a barn burner. I have OCZ Vertex drives in my other PCs, and this one doesn’t measure up the Vertex. Reads are pretty quick, but writes can be a bit slow. Windows boots in about 30 seconds. Firefox loads in about five. Word and Excel 2000 load in about a second.

So it’s not bad. But an OCZ Vertex would be a nice upgrade. Drop it in, use it for the OS and applications, and use the stock 16 GB drive for data.

A memory upgrade would also be worthwhile. With the stock 1 GB, it’s hitting the pagefile to the tune of 400 MB.

Unfortunately, to really make the computer sing, you’re looking at spending $200 in upgrades ($40 for NOD32, $40 for 2 GB of RAM, and $120 for an OCZ Vertex). Spread it out over the life of the machine and it wouldn’t be so bad though. And you’ll be paying $40 a year for antivirus no matter what you use.

The build quality is typical HP. I have lots of aged HP and Compaq equipment that’s still going strong. I don’t get rid of HP stuff because it breaks, I get rid of it because it’s so hopelessly obsolete as to be useless. I hesitate to buy from anyone else, except Asus. And Asus, of course, is HP’s main motherboard supplier.

If you can get used to the keyboard, I think the Mini 110 is a good machine. It weighs 2 pounds and is scarcely larger than a standard hardcover book, so it fits almost anywhere. And having an SSD, there isn’t much that can fail. The battery will eventually fail, and probably the AC adapter will too, but I think other than that, one of these computers could last 20 years, assuming it would still be useful for anything then.