While bigger can be better, many people prefer to buy lighter, more powerful laptops for work or entertainment use. A mini laptop can easily provide the computing power you need without all the bulk. The reasons many professionals and students are switching to these smaller products include size, long battery life, innovative features, durability, and price. Learn what models are highest-rated for most applications.
What is a mini laptop?
While the word “mini” is rarely in the product description or name, you can recognize a mini laptop by these common features:
Fully-functioning processor, graphics card, and memory
Keyboard, usually full-sized
Screen size of 11 to 13 inches, touch screen is optional
Weight of no more than a few pounds
Can be closed fully for protection, not an open tablet design by default
Has wireless internet connectivity
Of course, most brands have their own version of a mini laptop. You may consider the smallest of their laptop line to be a mini laptop, even if it’s never marketed as one.
Perks of a mini laptop
This class of computers is gaining popularity for both leisure and professional purposes. Unlike other small electronics, such as netbooks or tablets, the mini laptop rarely sacrifices computing power in its attempt to be more portable. You can do some amazing things with these machines. Here are the five reasons they are becoming a highly-sought-after computing option:
The size of these products is the most notable feature. They’re incredibly easy to take wherever you go. You can use them easily behind a reclined seat on an airplane, and they tuck neatly into a standard-sized backpack or purse. Most mini laptops won’t take up more room than a business folio or academic binder.
2. Long battery life
In addition to being small, they’re incredibly efficient. A full battery charge ranges from 7 to 12 hours, depending on how you use them. Video playback or streaming services will use more battery life than reading a text document, for example. Many feature “fast-charge” cords so you can refill the battery in less than an hour.
3. Innovative features
While mini laptops look like any typical notebook computer, some have impressive perks that large models don’t. Many act as a hybrid tablet and laptop, offering smooth touch screen surfaces, writing pens and accessories, various folding configurations, and removable keyboards. Don’t dismiss their size as a lack of functionality.
Remember, one of the trademarks of a mini laptop is that it can be fully closed to protect the screen and keyboard. Some of the entry-level mini laptops are designed specifically for schools and offer spill protection and durable cases. The size and weight of the devices help to secure them when moving about.
Smaller versions of popular tech often require a bigger budget, but that’s not the case with these devices. The models that students use for classroom work are among the most affordable mini laptops on the market. For just a couple hundred dollars, streaming, writing, and web research can be at the fingertips of those without a lot to spend.
Uses for a mini laptop
While anyone who enjoys flexible and powerful computing options will love a mini laptop, some people gravitate toward them more than others. Here are some of the groups who use this class of computer as an essential tool for what they do every day:
Professionals who want to take their work on the road without inconvenience
Students using their school’s “one laptop, one child” program to learn in the classroom and at home
Casual users who want to bring their movies, email, and social media with them in a purse or backpack
Beginning computer users who want a no-frills laptop they can use anywhere
Older adults and seniors who may be new to computing
Apartment or condo dwellers who lack the space for a full-sized desktop computer or larger laptop
Because of their compact size, these mini laptops make incredible everyday machines for getting essential tasks done, whether you’re studying at a library, working in a coffee shop, or watching movies on an airplane.
Best affordable mini laptops
If you’re overwhelmed by all the options on the market, consider one of these top-rated HP mini laptops. They have earned positive reviews and are built to be convenient and versatile, too.
1. HP ENVY x2 laptop
If you’re a professional who needs the most innovative tools and a powerful processor, you can’t go wrong with the reliable HP ENVY x2 laptop. It folds like a laptop but has all the convenience of a covered tablet. The HP-branded pen makes note-taking, sketching, and presenting a breeze. Those with demanding tasks will appreciate the high-performing Intel® Core™ i5 processor, 128GB of SSD storage, 4GB of onboard memory, and USB ports for your accessories.
This is perhaps one of the most feature-packed devices in the mini-laptop category. In addition to the above, users will enjoy:
An upgraded video experience with seamless playback, wide-viewing angles, and stunning color
One of the sleekest designs on the market, with a slim .31-inch thickness and a 3.47-lb weight that blows away the competition
Instant transition from tablet to laptop mode, with a full-sized keyboard
Incredible durability, thanks to the protective features of the aluminum design and Corning® Gorilla® Glass display
Data connection options for wherever you travel with the integrated 4G LTE that operates on both U.S.-based Verizon Wireless and Sprint LTE networks (for an additional fee)
You won’t feel like you’re sacrificing anything with this device. Slimmer, lighter, and more powerful than other mini laptops, it’s an upgraded experience from the typical laptop that will keep you feeling less weighed-down and eager to take on your biggest projects at home and from the road.
2. HP Chromebook 11 notebook
Schools have adopted many of the HP Chromebook 11 models as part of their official educational tools programs. They are durable, affordable, and equipped with all the tools kids are already using. The 11.6-inch diagonal HD screen offers brilliant display capabilities. And the more than 11 hours of battery life is impressive, too. With the innovative Chrome OS and a weight that makes them practical for even younger kids to carry, they’ve earned a spot at the top of the list for the best kid-friendly mini laptops.
Since it’s a Chrome-powered device, any existing Google Play, YouTube, and Gmail accounts can be used seamlessly without additional account creation or logins. The amazing video quality captures the vibrant color and life of your favorite photos, games, and videos. Embraced by classrooms but built for life, this is a great tool for those starting out as computer users and even seasoned pros who need a slim device with quick start-ups times.
3. HP Chromebook x2 notebook
For an upgraded HP Chromebook experience, consider the HP Chromebook x2 notebook. This detachable laptop has an impressive dual-core Intel Core M3 processor and app-friendly touch screen. Expect to spend hours creating, streaming, and web chatting. The 4GB of memory, 32GB of eMMC storage, and amazing Intel HD Graphics 615 will give you the feeling you’re working on a full-sized computer, too.
It’s not all about work, though, because there’s plenty for play here. With crisp audio powered by B&O Play speakers and an eye-popping display protected by the long-lasting Corning Gorilla Glass, you can experience your favorite forms of entertainment with a device that can take the wear-and-tear. If you’re a big Google fan or adore the thousands of apps available in the Google Play Store, you’ll find many ways to use your mini laptop to read, listen, learn, create, and play. This is easily one of the best 2-in-1 mini laptops on the market today.
4. HP ProBook x360 11 G1 EE notebook PC
While it’s common to assume that college requires the highest-performing and most expensive computers, the fact is that most students want to take notes, compose papers, and stream a little Netflix. They’d happily trade a few features for the convenience of a small laptop.
The HP ProBook x360 11 G1 EE notebook PC fits the bill with a touch screen, tablet mode, and reliable Intel Celeron processor. The 4GB of memory and 128GB of SSD storage is more than enough to handle what most students will use this laptop for, too.
The 360-degree hinge is durable and allows you to view your screen in a variety of configurations, making it perfect for video chatting and movies. The Corning Gorilla Glass 4 screen resists breaks and cracks, and the co-molded industrial rubber keeps it safe from accidental bumps as well. Top it off with a spill-proof keyboard, and it’s ready to handle the trials of dorm life. Simply put, these models are good mini laptops for college students who want the best combo of portability and performance.
5. HP Stream 11 notebook
Another product with incredible value is the HP Stream 11 notebook. This mini laptop is considered to be one of the top netbooks used in schools today, and it provides children with the opportunity to learn, stream, and explore on the durable 11-inch display.
Unlike the HP Chromebook series, which uses Google apps and a Chrome OS to get work done, this features Windows 10 Home in S mode. It’s designed to give kids and beginner users a good head start in Windows-based programs and tools, and it offers Windows 365 Office features, such as Word, Excel, OneNote, and OneDrive storage.
What do you get for the price? A reliable Intel Celeron processor, Intel UHD Graphics 600, 4GB of memory, and 32GB of eMMC storage, all of which combine to make this the perfect tool to create and share. With up to 10 hours of battery life, it’s designed to last for a full day in the classroom and back home again, too. Kids love the bright-blue coloring of the design, too.
Mini laptop buying tips
Mini laptops are built with value in mind, so whatever you pick will have a good balance of features and affordability. Each model is made to go with you to help you accomplish your goals without the heftier weight of some full-sized laptops.
Because these laptops have so many benefits, their pricing is also varied and ranges from much less expensive than other laptops to almost twice the cost. The value they bring, however, is notable. They offer more features for their size and often allow for unique customization options. You can choose exactly the processing speed or storage you want, paying for the features you will use most and leaving the rest behind.
Those looking for cheap mini laptops may find that the best time to buy is during holiday sales or when HP announces its weekly deals. Staying subscribed to the HP newsletter is a good way to be alerted to special deals and offers. You can also look for versions of these laptops that are customizable or have slightly less memory or storage to stick more closely to your budget.
Is a mini laptop right for you?
Who said you have to sacrifice power or price for a smaller size? Today’s mini laptops are made to overcome the issues that smaller computers have presented in the past. With better performance, improved ventilation, superior connectivity, and outstanding video and audio options, today’s small laptops easily rival the bigger products on the market.
About the Author: Linsey Knerl is a contributing writer for HP® Tech Takes. Linsey is a Midwest-based author, public speaker, and member of the ASJA. She has a passion for helping consumers and small business owners do more with their resources via the latest tech solutions.
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