HP Mini 1103 Business Netbook, with Windows 7, Costs Just $299

The HP Mini 1103 business netbook, arriving this December, offers a 10.1-inch display, Intel processors, Windows 7 and a weight of just 2.78 pounds for $299.

Hewlett-Packard has introduced the HP Mini 1103, a "companion PC" that it's also calling the company's "most affordable Mini for business." The 1103 features a 10.1-inch LED backlit WSVGA display, has a starting weight of 2.78 pounds and is priced at $299. It's scheduled to arrive in December.

The netbook runs Microsoft's Windows 7 Starter 32 and "Intel's smallest processor to date," per HP - the 1.83GHz Intel Atom N455, which is upgradeable to the 667MHz N475. The processors reportedly enable the new Mini to run cooler and achieve longer battery life. The battery, a 3-cell, can be upgraded to a 6-cell.

The 10.1-inch display is paired with a touchpad, a keyboard that's 93 percent of fullsize and a VGA Webcam. Also included is an Intel NM10 express chipset, 2GB of DDR3 (double data rate 3) SDRAM (synchronous dynamic RAM) memory at 667MHz, an Intel graphics media accelerator 3150 and, in some configurations, 320GB of internal storage.

Connectivity comes in the form of 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth 3.0, Realtek Ethernet, GPS and, if you'd like - and if you have a service contract with Sprint, Verizon or AT&T- an HP EvDO/HSPA Mobile Broadband Module.

There are three USB 2.0 ports, microphone and headphone jacks, a Kensington Lock slot and a 4-in-one media card reader.

On the software size, HP has included QuickWeb, a feature that lets users have instant access to the Internet, even when the netbook isn't on.

At just $300, the Mini 1103 is priced lower than many new tablet offerings - the Samsung Galaxy Tab, for example, is $400 with a contract, and $600 without - which may serve the Mini well, as analysts show tablets to be nibbling at netbook sales. Though, despite falling from "the meteoric pace" of the last few years, ABI analyst Jeff Orr said in an Oct. 14 report, netbooks are still posting "good growth."

Orr expects netbook shipments to reach 43 million by year's end, while tablet sales are forecast to reach 11 million-plus.

iSuppli, however, increased its forecast for Apple iPad shipments in an Oct. 18 report, after Apple announced that in the three months ending Sept. 25 it had sold 4.2 million iPads. Despite ongoing problems with suppliers struggling to meet supply demands, iSuppli Analyst Rhoda Alexander said in the report, iSuppli now expects Apple to move 13.8 million units in 2010, up from its earlier expectation of 12.9 million.

The Samsung Galaxy Tab - which will be available this holiday season from Verizon Wireless, AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and U.S. Cellular - should help to pad the total number of tablets sold this year. While tablets don't compete directly with PCs, Gartner analyst Mikako Kitagawa explained in an Oct. 13 report on third-quarter PC shipments, the promise of arriving tablets made consumers and the channel take a "wait and see approach" during the quarter, which hurt sales.

HP, despite having a flat quarter, led the global market, with shipments of 15.4 million units. The PC company's market share fell to 17.5 percent from 18.9 percent a year earlier, which Gartner again blamed on a lack of consumer demand.