Friday, June 6, 2008

HP Mini-note 2133

  • Pros Sleek and sturdy aluminium casing. 120GB HD. Great connectivity
  • Cons More expensive than the EeePC. HDD isn’t as tough as a solid-state disk. Via C7 could struggle with demanding apps

Since the EeePC made its debut, the market’s been flooded with small, cheap portable laptops. Unfortunately, they’ve all too often been underpowered and had the build quality of a sponge cake.

Not so the HP Mini-Note. Encased in Apple-like aluminium, it’s a classy-yet-sturdy beast that’ll survive a journey across town in your record bag with your keys.

The big squeeze
Open the Mini-Note and you’ll find a keyboard that’s 92% of full size. That’s close enough for us – we might give touch-typing a miss, but it’s far more welcoming to our sausage fingers than the usual cramped UMPC numbers.

Size-wise it’s similar to the EeePC, with the same 8.9in screen. And it’s one tough nut – a scratch-resistant coating makes it hardier (if more prone to glare) than Asus’s baby and an internal magnesium alloy structure provides additional protection to all the Mini-Note’s sensitive bits.

But the killer feature for us is the 120GB hard-drive. Sure, it’s not going to be as resilient as the Asus EeePC’s solid-state storage, but if you’re using it for travel you’ll welcome the extra space for your music, photos and Lost bonanzas.

Weight watcher

There is a downside to all that armour though – the HP Mini-Note is heavier than the EeePC, weighing in at 1.27kg. Still, at only 33mm thin it’s certainly no porker and the touchpad looks a better size than many of the postage stamps offered on UMPCs.

Connectivity is also decent. Wi-Fi, Ethernet and optional Bluetooth sit alongside two USB ports and an SD card slot, so you won’t be ruining its portability with too many peripherals.

Our only worry is that the Mini-note doesn’t have the latest Intel Atom processor, going instead for a Via C7 chip that could struggle with the more demanding applications. An Atom version is rumoured to be in the pipeline, but it’s a shame the Mini-note didn’t have this from the beginning.

For a more up close and personal look at the HP Mini-Note, keep an eye on our ‘watch and listen’ page where we'll be posting a hands-on very soon, followed by a full review.