HP Mini 1104 With Intel Atom Starts at $399

HP is offering college students a new lightweight, low-cost option, the Mini 1104, which runs a low-power, dual-core Intel Atom processor and starts at $399.

Hewlett-Packard would like to introduce college students everywhere to the Mini Educator, a new lightweight Windows 7-running laptop starting at $399.

The HP Mini 1104 pairs a 1.6GHz Intel Atom dual-core processor and an Intel NM10 Express Chipset-which HP officials said makes the Mini run cooler and use less power-with a 10.1-inch display, a 93 percent full (and spill-resistant) keyboard, a weight of 2.78 pounds, a hard drive accelerometer that can act fast to protect data during a fall, and a number of other expected features.

There's a VGA Webcam, for example, with mono speakers, a digital microphone and a microphone jack-for asking parents face-to-face for some extra spending money or Skyping with long-distance beaus. For getting down to business, there's support for 802.11a/b/g/n WiFi and Bluetooth 4.0, and the option for integrated HP Mobile Broadband.

The Mini 1104 also comes with a TPM 1.2 embedded security chip, for protecting data, and Computrace Pro software for tracking down a lost or stolen device. There's the option of 1GB or 2GB of double-data rate 3 (DDR3) memory; 320GB of internal storage; SD, SDHC and SDXC expansion slots; and the option of a three- or six-cell lithium-ion battery-the latter of which is good for 9 hours of go time, according to HP.

Making it easy to slip into backpacks and shoulder bags, the Mini, in a classic black, measures 7.52 by 10.55 by 0.89 inches.

Consumer sales have not been kind to PC makers, which are increasingly targeting student segments-Intel recently also introduced tiny notebooks featuring its dual-core Atom processors, though its Classmate PCs are more geared for the K-12 set. Apple, taking a different bent, is also aggressively going after the education market, and earlier this month announced iBooks 2, an initiative it expects will bring a "new textbook experience" to the iPad.

On Jan. 11, Gartner announced that worldwide PC shipments had fallen by 1.4 percent during the fourth quarter of 2011, to 92.2 million units.

"Continuously low consumer PC demand resulted in weak holiday PC shipments," Mikako Kitagawa, principal analyst at Gartner, said in a statement, adding that economic uncertainty in Western Europe and hard-disk drive (HDD) shortages due to flooding in Thailand were also contributors.

HP was the only top-three vendor to post a decline in year-over-year shipments-it fell 16.2 percent, compared with 23 percent growth from fast-rising No. 2 vendor, Lenovo-but nonetheless managed to remain the No. 1 vendor worldwide.

Kitagawa reported that in addition to aggressive pricing from competitors, new HP CEO Meg Whitman had to clear up "some confusion surrounding its PC business," which previous CEO Leo Apotheker had considered spinning off.

On Oct. 27, after taking time to consider the matter-under the staring eyeballs of an impatient industry-Whitman announced in a statement that "HP objectively evaluated the strategic, financial and operational impact of spinning off [its Personal Systems Group]. It's clear after our analysis that keeping PSG within HP is right for customers and partners, right for shareholders, and right for employees."