Netbook Madness Game 4: HP Mini 2140 vs. Dell Inspiron Mini 10

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Before we get to today's action, a recap of Friday's barn-burner. The pundits (me) were wrong: Instead of a blowout, Friday's match between the Archos 10 and the ASUS EeePC 1000 HE turned into the equivalent of the Lousiville/Siena game. Buoyed by an apparently rabid fan base, the Archos 10 (whose six-cell model now costs $349, which is $100 cheaper than when we reviewed it) staked out a huge lead before the 1000 HE rallied for the win--even then, only notching 55 percent of the votes. All in all, we had more than 2,200 votes.

Today's game should prove no less exciting, as we have two of the notebook heavyweights duking it out: The Dell Inspiron Mini 10 versus the HP Mini 2140.

The HP Mini 2140 is an update to the company's 2133 Mini-Note, released last year. The design is almost unchanged; a brushed aluminum lid and chassis, and an excellent keyboard. Unfortunately, the mouse buttons are still to the left and right of the touchpad, a concession to the compactness of the netbook, but one we've never liked.

While there's only two USB ports, HP included an ExpressCard slot as well, which will no doubt appeal to the business travelers for whom this machine is intended. While the 2140 has a larger 10-inch screen than the 2133 (8.9 inches), the resolution has decreased, to 1024 x 576 from 1280 x 768.

Still, its six-cell battery lasted a very impressive 7 hours and 19 minutes, second only to the just-announced Samsung N110 (7:24). When we first reviewed the 2140, its price was $529, but a similar configuration can now be ordered from HP's site for $479.

Facing off against the 2140, the Dell Mini 10 ($449 as reviewed) has an equally impressive (and large) keyboard, yet still manages to be one of the thinnest and lightest netbooks on the market.  Similar in design to both the Mini 9 and Mini 12, the Mini 10 has a 10-inch screen (natch) which, like the 2140, has a resolution of 1024 x 576.

Like MacBooks of late, the Mini 10's mouse buttons are integrated into the low-friction trackpad, a smart idea that saves otherwise limited space. Additionally, the trackpad supports multitouch gestures.

The Mini 10 also has three USB ports, as well as an HDMI port--something not typically seen on a netbook. The main thing holding the Mini 10 back, however, is its battery life. Currently, the Mini 10 is only offered with a 3-cell battery, which got a runtime of 2:43 on the LAPTOP battery test--five minutes shy of the average for netbook batteries of that size. This in itself wouldn't be so bad, but other netbooks, such as the Samsung NC10, offer a six-cell battery for the same price.  As we noted in the review, the Mini 10 will become a lot more compelling once Dell offers it with a six-cell battery, and mobile broadband, GPS, and integrated TV tuner options.

So which one do you think is better? The HP Mini 2140, with its silvery-aluminum skin, or the Dell Mini Inspiron 10, and its small and compact chassis.

Voting in this poll is now closed.

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