Hands on with HP

Hewlett-Packard’s 2133 Mini-Note may end up as the premium choice among the entire mini-laptop, or netbook, category of devices announced so far. And people interested in the device will pay for it. The model with the 1.6GHz processor with Windows Vista Business edition is listed at US$749.

A machine with a 1 GHZ processor running SuSE Linux Enterprise Desktop version 10 is listed at US$499.

The Mini-Note is made of aluminum and is the most professional looking netbook I’ve seen so far, a mini-business laptop that runs well. It does a lot of the things a netbook should do well, for a mobile device aimed at Internet surfers.

The sturdy build of the Mini-Note will help limit damage from drops, which are bound to happen more often with a mobile device than one that sits on a desktop all day.

The difference in the aluminum build compared to other netbooks such as the Eee PC by Asustek Computer of Taiwan, is striking. Most netbooks launched so far appear to use light plastic materials as their outer covering, a big difference from the Mini-Note in terms of feel.

The quality of the 8.9-inch screens on the Mini-Notes are excellent, with 1280 by 768 pixel resolution.

The Mini-Note I tested was running on a 1.6GHz C7 M ULV microprocessor from Via Technologies and had 2G bytes of DRAM, a 160G byte HDD (hard disk drive).

The Vista-based netbook took over 60 seconds to boot-up, the slowest of all the devices I’ve tested so far. The Aspire one running on a Linpus Linux Lite OS, by contrast, booted-up in just 12 seconds.

Other applications also seemed to take more time to boot up and run. I came away from the trial unimpressed with the idea of using Windows Vista for netbooks. HP shrank the keyboard to 92 per cent of normal laptop size but kept some of the main features that make typing easy, such as space between keys so your fingers know when they’ve left one key to strike another. I was able to type comfortably without mistakes on its keyboard. But it’s one device where the major drawbacks, the heavy price tag and slow boot up and run time with Vista, really hurt.

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