While HP’s recently released Mini 1000 is designed for consumers, its new HP Mini 2140 Notebook PC caters to the mobile professional. An update and replacement to HP’s original 2133 Mini-Note, the 2140 sports the same durable chassis and well-designed keyboard as its predecessor but adds a larger 10-inch screen and an Intel Atom processor that pays off in 7-plus hours of battery life (with a six-cell battery). Add in fast-charge technology and hard drive protection, and the $529 Mini 2140 is our top netbook pick for road warriors. (Editor's Note: The business-rugged HP Mini 5101 continues to raise the bar for durable machines built with mobile professionals in mind.)
Compact, Road Ready Design
While HP claims that the Mini 2140 is partially aimed at the education market, its design will surely appeal to business travelers. It sports a brushed silver, all-aluminum lid and a solid magnesium alloy chassis (similar to the original 2133 Mini-Note). Making the netbook even more durable are its metal alloy hinges complete with hardened steel pin axles; HP claims this build can endure the closing and opening of the lid ten times a day for six years (or 25,000 cycles).
When placed next to rival 10-inch netbooks (the Samsung NC10, ASUS Eee PC 1000H, Lenovo IdeaPad S10, and the MSI Wind), the 10.3 x 6.5 x 1.1-inch Mini 2140 is certainly compact. In fact, like its cousin the Mini 1000, it compares favorably to smaller 8.9-inch netbooks, such as the Acer Aspire one and Dell Inspiron Mini 9 (see our measurement chart below). However, it weighs 3.0 pounds with its six-cell battery (2.6 pounds with the flush three-cell battery), making the Mini 2140 heavier than other netbooks equipped with six-cell batteries, including the 2.6-pound MSI Wind and 2.8-pound Samsung NC10. Nevertheless, when we took the netbook with us on a weekend trip, it fit in a small shoulder bag, and even with its AC adapter (which brought the travel weight to 3.4 pounds) we felt no strain.
Same Great Keyboard, Awkward Touchpad
We’re glad that HP didn’t change the keyboard on the Mini 2140 from the 2133 Mini-Note. This netbook features a 92 percent full-size keyboard treated with a coating that HP claims makes the keys 50 times more resistant to visible wear than a standard keyboard (it’s also water-resistant). The panel had absolutely no flex, and the right Shift key is full-size and directly below the Enter key.
To accommodate the spacious keyboard, HP kept the same touchpad and buttons as on the 2133 Mini-Note. At 2.3 x 1.1 inches, the Mini 2140’s touchpad is very narrow, requiring more movement and backtracking than we would like. Also, HP retained the awkward vertical mouse buttons, which flank the touchpad. The touchpad has a button above it for turning it off completely and a dedicated scrolling bar, which was useful for moving through long Web pages.
The HP Mini 2140 is surrounded by two USB ports, an SD Card reader, mic and headphone jacks, a VGA port, and an Ethernet jack. While most netbooks have three USB ports, HP used the space for an ExpressCard/54 slot, perfect for adding a mobile broadband card. (HP may offer integrated mobile broadband as an option in the future, but the company hasn’t finalized its plans.)
Bigger Display, Less Pixels
The speakers that straddled the screen on the 2133 Mini-Note have been moved to accommodate a larger 10.1-inch, 16:9, glossy, LED-backlit display. However, its native resolution of 1024 x 576 is not only lower than that on the 2133 (which was 1280 x 768), but it’s even lower than that on most other netbooks, which sport 1024 x 600-pixel resolution screens. However, HP will also offer a higher definition 1366 x 768 display option starting in mid March.
One of the first 10-inch netbooks with a true 16:9 aspect ratio, the Mini 2140 allowed us to view a DVD using an external optical drive without the small borders along the top and bottom of the screen. While some may appreciate this aspect ratio on larger 16-inch notebooks, we don’t see the benefit of it on a smaller screen that one won’t use frequently to watch movies. Similar to the BenQ Joybook Lite U101, the subtraction of 24 vertical pixels also limits the amount of space you have vertically on the screen. In a side-by-side comparison with 1024 x 600-pixel resolution netbooks, the HP Mini 2140 consistently showed one to two less lines of text on Web pages, resulting in more scrolling for end users.
The flush glass screen, which is coated with a scratch-resistant treatment, makes for a bright desktop. We were able to keep a Web page and a document in Microsoft Word 2007 open side by side. We appreciated HP’s software tool in its Quick Launch that allows for easily adjusting the size of desktop icons and fonts. An episode of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia streamed on Hulu.com looked extremely clear and detailed, and tilting the screen back 45 degrees (which is as far as it goes) didn’t produce distracting glare. Horizontal viewing angles were not as forgiving, but decent for sharing the screen with another person.
Webcam and Audio
A 0.3-megapixel camera and dual stereo microphones are embedded in the bezel above the display. In a video call over Skype the image quality was solid, but our caller complained of blurriness typical of VGA resolution. The built-in stereo speakers, now hidden below the screen, were surprisingly loud and we heard our caller loud and clear.
HP nixed the VIA C7-M processor it used in the 2133 Mini-Note for Intel’s reliable and power-efficient 1.6-GHz Atom N270 processor. Along with 1GB of RAM, the Mini 2140 provided the typical netbook performance we’ve seen in many similarly configured systems. We couldn’t run our usual PCMark05 test on the system, but in our hands-on experience, the machine’s Windows XP performance was snappy. Firefox and Windows Media Player opened quickly, and we saw no performance hit when conducting video calls over Skype, surfing the Web with multiple tabs open, and writing this review in Microsoft Word 2007.
The Intel GMA 950 integrated graphics chip with 64MB of memory delivered a score of 748 in 3DMark03 and 125 in 3DMark06; the former is about 70 points below the category average, and the latter is about 130 points below average. Still, the Mini 2140 scored higher on 3DMark06 than the ASUS Eee PC 1002HA (678) and the Samsung NC10 (730). Watching an episode of Heroes using an external DVD drive at full-screen was smooth.
Hard Drive Performance
The Mini 2140’s 160GB, 5,400-rpm Hitachi SATA hard drive (which is protected by HP’s 3D DriveGuard accelerometer) booted Windows XP Home in 57 seconds; that’s a few seconds better than the average netbook. The LAPTOP Transfer Test (copying a 4.97GB folder of mixed media) took a speedy 5 minutes and 22 seconds, a rate of 15.8 MBps. This is higher than the category average of 13.2 MBps and right smack between the Lenovo IdeaPad S10’s 17.4 MBps and the Samsung NC10’s 12.4 MBps. As with the HP Mini 1000, the Mini 2140 will also be available with a solid-state drive option.
Compared with the 2133 Mini-Note, which got extremely warm during heavy usage, the Mini 2140 stayed relatively cool. The keyboard and touchpad remained at room temperature during frequent use. However, the bottom of the Mini 2140 got slightly warmer than the rest of the system, registering 96 degrees during our battery test.
The HP Mini 2140 outshines not only its predecessor when it comes to endurance but all other netbooks equipped with six-cell batteries. On the LAPTOP Battery Test (continuous Web surfing over Wi-Fi), the system lasted a very impressive 7 hours and 19 minutes. This runtime blows away the mini-notebook average of 3:48, and it beats out even the Samsung NC10, the longest-lasting mini-notebook to date, by 45 minutes. If you can live with the added bulk of the six-cell battery, it’s more than worth the $30 premium. Still, the smaller three-cell battery lasts a solid 3 hours and 32 minutes.
HP also includes its Fast Charge technology in the Mini 2140, which can charge the netbook’s primary battery up to 90 percent within 90 minutes when the system is off. A completely drained six-cell battery on the Mini 2140 took 98 minutes to charge up to 98 percent with the system powered down; by comparison, the ASUS Eee PC 1000H (also with a six-cell battery) recharged up to 84 percent in the same amount of time.
The HP Mini 2140’s 802.11a/b/g/n Wi-Fi card provided stellar performance on our tests, delivering a strong 24.5 Mbps and 20.4 Mbps from 15 and 50 feet, respectively. These scores blew away the 802.11n-equipped ASUS Eee PC 1002HA (20.6/17.2 Mbps). The Mini 2140 maintained a strong connection during our day-to-day Web activities; streaming music over Pandora was fluid, and streaming video clips on Hulu.com were void of any pauses.
As mentioned above, HP may offer integrated mobile broadband as an option on the Mini 2140, as it has done on the Mini 1000. However, given that HP charges a steep $199 for this module, some many want to pick up a much cheaper (or free) external ExpressCard or USB modem.
Software and Warranty
Beyond Windows XP Home, HP bundles the Mini 2140 with a 60-day trial of McAfee Security Center and Microsoft Office 2007. HP covers this netbook with a one-year warranty and 24/7 toll-free technical support.
The $529 HP Mini 2140 (starting at $499) rises above the majority of the netbook competition by incorporating a well-designed keyboard, a durable design, and more than seven hours of battery life. Some may prefer the $499 Samsung NC10 (also a LAPTOP Editors’ Choice winner). It’s $30 less than the similarly configured HP Mini 2140, and its six-cell battery doesn’t bulge from the bottom of the chassis like the Mini 2140. But the extra cash buys a more durable case and more endurance.