Mini-notebooks, such as the Eee PC 900 and the HP Mini-Note, could be the hottest things around since those nude pictures of Lindsay Lohan. But how about the real temperature of these little guys? Do they toast your legs while sitting in bed? Do your fingertips get warm while typing on the keyboard?
After some heated time with the HP Mini-Note, I took it upon myself to do some scientific testing of the small systems. Using a Raytek Mini Temp Non-Contact Thermometer Gun (opens in new tab)—our new favorite toy in the office—I've been testing the heat on four of the most popular mini-notebook models: the Eee PC 900, the Eee PC 701, the Everex CloudBook, and the HP Mini-Note. I also threw in a normal Dell Latitude D630 notebook as a standard laptop variable.
Since laptops have a few different heat-sensitive regions, I took readings on the the underside of the notebook, on the keyboard between the G and H key, and on the touchpad. Each of the readings on the system were taken after the same usage pattern. Our extended usage patterns consisted of three different tasks with the system running on battery power: transferring of 2GB of files from an external USB drive, surfing the Web and playing the same House episode on Hulu.com, and making a Skype video call.
The Hottest Underside?
During my testing of the HP Mini-Note, I noticed that the bottom of the machine, particularly near the back battery, got abnormally hot. The Mini-Note's underside repeatedly came up with a 114-degree Fahrenheit temperature reading near the battery back (in other regions on the bottom it came in at 108 degrees). The Eee PC 4G and 900 came in at 102 and 101 degrees, respectively. The CloudBook returned a 102-degree reading and our non–mini-notebook, the Latitude D630, returned a lower 94 degrees.
We aren't the only ones to notice how hot the bottom the Mini-Note gets. We suggest using a notebook cooling pad, such as the Belkin Cooling Stand, under any of these mini-notebooks if you are wearing a skirt or pair of shorts.
The Hottest Keyboard and Touchpad
The HP Mini-Note's touchpad and keyboard didn't get as hot as its underside. The system's keyboard does warm your fingers but repeatedly read in the 99-degree range. Its touchpad was 95 degrees. However, the Eee PC's small keyboard gets the hottest. Both the Eee PC 4G and the Eee PC 900 (both running Linux) had the hottest keyboards of all the others, hitting 100 degrees every time.
We found similar results with the touchpad. The Eee PC had the hottest touchpad.
Others have agreed with us in saying that, compared with the other models, the Eee PCs keyboard and touchpad get the toastiest. We have noticed this over time but were hoping the Eee PC 900 would have some updated thermals.
So would you base your mini-notebook purchase partly on how hot the system gets? Considering that the Dell Latitude consistently had the lowest temperatures, it's safe to say that any mini-notebook is going to get hotter than a typical notebook. If heat bothers you, you might want to avoid the current generation of mini-notebooks altogether and go for a larger system.
Among mini-notebooks, we can definitively say is that if you don't enjoy having a warm lap, the Eee PC might be more up your alley, but if you're trying to keep your fingers cool, the HP Mini Note is a solid choice. And let's be honest, the CloudBook was never cool in any sense of the word.