HP enters the suddenly very crowded low-cost mini notebook space with its HP 2133 Mini-Note PC, and it trumps the competition in a few key areas.
First, despite its compact dimensions, this 3.2-pound laptop sports a full-size keyboard, which makes it easy to take notes and compose e-mails on the go. You also get a sturdy and stylish aluminum chassis that makes this system look like a premium ultraportable, as well as a relatively large and crisp 8.9-inch display. And unlike competing machines, such as the Asus Eee PC and Everex Cloudbook, you can configure the Mini-Note with your choice of processors, RAM, or hard drives. Now that it's available with Linux or XP (Mini-Note with XP review), you can add operating system to the list. Plus, you can plug in a ExpressCard mobile broadband modem so you don’t have to rely on Wi-Fi hotspots.
The HP 2133 Mini-Note PC (starting at $599 for Windows Vista Basic, $499 for SuSE Linux, and $749 as configured) is a bit more expensive and weighs more than the competition, but the system’s unique strengths make it a good investment for students, mobile professionals, and anyone else looking for an affordable, highly portable computer.
Like other mini-notebooks, the 2133 Mini-Note is aimed at the education market, though you wouldn’t know it from the design. Measuring 10.0 x 6.5 x 1.1 inches and weighing just under 4 pounds, the Mini-Note is a tad bulkier than the ASUS, CTL, and Everex models. A brushed silver aluminum case over a magnesium-alloy chassis gives the system a durable foundation, which is augmented by a hard drive accelerometer and a spill-resistant, wear-resistant keyboard. Even the display features a glossy no-scratch coating.
Hi-Res Screen on the Mini-Note 2133
Beneath the lid is a bright 8.9-inch display framed by a shiny black bezel. We didn’t experience any window-sizing problems like we did with the other small notebooks, thanks to the screen’s 1280 x 768-pixel resolution. Overall, color quality and viewing angles were quite good, but users with weak eyes may find text and icons too small.
Camera and Mic
A camera and microphone are embedded in the upper bezel, but the system doesn’t come with a webcam utility. However, Windows Live Messenger immediately recognized the camera, which provided adequate image quality for video chatting. The built-in stereo speakers were loud and packed a punch.
Spacious Keyboard, Awkward Touchpad
The Mini-Note features a 92 percent—size keyboard treated with a special coating that HP claims makes the keys 50 times more resistant to visible wear than a standard keyboard, and it’s spill-resistant as well. The keyboard deck was comfortable, and the large keys were responsive, as was the wide-aspect touchpad.
Unfortunately, the mouse buttons are positioned to the left and right of the touchpad and are oriented vertically, which we found to be awkward. We found ourselves double-tapping the touchpad more often than we did left-clicking.
HP Mini-Note 2133 Ports
A power switch, drive indicator, and Wi-Fi switch are located along the lower edge of the keyboard deck, and a VGA port, headphone and microphone jacks, and a USB port are on the left side. ExpressCard/54 and SD Card slots are mounted on the right, along with a second USB port and an Ethernet port.
HP Mini-Note Features
Our Mini-Note came with Windows Vista Business installed on a 120GB (7,200-rpm) hard drive, but you can configure the system with Vista Home Edition, FreeDOS, or the SuSE Linux Enterprise Desktop 10 operating system. HP offers several drive choices as well, including a solid state 4GB drive for the Linux version (starting at $499), a 160GB 7,200-rpm drive, and 120GB and 160GB drives that spin at 5,400 rpm. These latter configurations start at $599.
The system is powered by a 1.6-GHz VIA C7-M processor, VIA Chrome 9 graphics chip, and 2GB of DDR2 memory, which produced a 3DMark03 score of 380; that’s 135 points below average for a UMPC, but the Mini-Note had no trouble handling Vista and ran multiple applications without a hiccup. It did take 1 minute and 18 seconds for the system to complete the Windows boot sequence, though.
Wireless performance was respectable, coming in at 14.3 Mbps at a distance of 15 feet from our access point. From 50 feet away, the 802.11a/b/g radio managed speeds of 13.2 Mbps.
HP 2133 Mini-Note Battery Life
The system also came with a Bluetooth option and a six-cell extended-life battery that gave us 3 hours and 20 minutes of power with the power plan set to high performance. That runtime is on a par with other mini notebooks we've tested but it's not as much endurance as we would have liked.
While it's somewhat bigger and pricier than other mini-notebooks, the HP 2133 Mini-Note offers a few features that the others don’t, including an adult-size keyboard and a design more suited to business users. If all you need is a low-cost laptop that can run Windows, you may want to wait for the 9-inch version of the Eee PC. But if you require more from your mini-notebook and don’t mind paying for it, the HP 2133 Mini-Note delivers the goods.