HP 2133 Mini-Note review
It's stunningly good-looking, impressively usable and keenly priced but, for now at least, poor performance and mediocre battery life leave the Eee on top.
Review Date: 28 May 2008
Reviewed By: Sasha Muller
Price when reviewed: £300 (£345 inc VAT)
Features & Design
Value for Money
Since its release in the tail end of 2007, Asus' tiny little Eee has won itself plenty of admirers. Tiny, light and inexpensive, for people on the move, it's all the laptop they need. Sling it in a bag, and you'd hardly notice it was there, and yet it's still more than capable of the basic, everyday tasks required of it - internet, email or just a spot of word processing.
But despite several manufacturers making half-hearted attempts to recreate its success by rebadging VIA's NanoBook design, the Eee's diminutive charms have been enough to help it retain a firm stranglehold on the sub-notebook market. Well, until now at least.
It's been a long time coming, but HP has unveiled its take on the genre with its long-awaited Mini-Note 2133. And, let's get this over with straightaway, it makes the Eee look and feel positively cheap in comparison. We handed the 2133 to a couple of our colleagues and let them play with it for a minute or so. Then we told them how little it costs. Cue looks of complete and utter disbelief.
It is, without doubt, a simply beautiful laptop. Pluck the 2133 from its dumpy brown cardboard box and the magnesium alloy immediately feels classy and - more to the point - expensive. Considering its petite 265 x 165 x 33mm dimensions, though, it doesn't feel quite as light in the hand as you might expect. Tipping the scales at 1.27kg, the Mini-Note weighs almost as much as the likes of fully-fledged ultraportables, such as NEC's Versa S9100 and Lenovo's X300.
But, let's be honest, 1.2kg is still far from overweight, and that weight also serves to make the 2133 feel impressively sturdy. Compare it to the plasticky, slightly creaky frame of the Asus' Eee, and it's in a different league entirely. There's a little flex in the base if you really tug at it, but the display is incredibly rigid and offers the 8.9in panel plenty of protection.
We prodded and poked at the lid as hard as we could, but to no effect. Similarly, grab the HP's tiny lid between two hands and, barring a tiny bit of give, it's startlingly resilient. If there's anything to moan about, then it's that the HP's bulletproof frame isn't matched by the slight wobble in the display's chrome-effect hinges, but it's no deal breaker.
Stop trying to physically assault the Mini-Note's hardy little frame and you'll find it continues to impress in other key areas. We've moaned time and time again about the Eee's tiny keyboard, and it seems someone at HP has been listening. The 2133's silvery keys stretch right to the edges of its chassis, but apart from the shrunken Function keys and the diddy little cursor cluster, all the alphanumerical keys are, amazingly, full-sized.
There's not quite the depth of travel that you'd find on larger laptops, or desktop keyboards for that matter, but in a laptop this size, the positive feel and comfy layout is by far the best we've encountered. If you're one of those for whom the Eee's keyboard was just that bit too small, then the HP boasts the keyboard your fingers have been waiting for.
That keyboard comes at a cost though. With only a thin strip of chassis left fallow below the fine keyboard, the buttons are forced to either side of the trackpad. It's a change born of necessity, but it takes a little getting used to. If, like us, you're accustomed to guiding the cursor with a finger, and resting your thumb on the left button, poised to make a quick click, then it can cause problems.
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