HP 2133 Mini-Note Vista Business edition review

14 Jul 2008

Beautiful and blessed with a superb keyboard, but Windows Vista brings the Mini-Note 2133 to its knees.

Price when reviewed: 
385(£452 inc VAT)
2

Beautifully crafted in silver and gloss black, the HP's Mini-Note 2133 is about as gorgeous as they come. Of all the netbooks, sub notebooks, mini laptops - or whatever you want to call them - it's far and away the best looking of the bunch.

But, appearances can be deceptive, and while the Linux-equipped version of HP's svelte Mini-Note had us enraptured from the off, serious deficiencies were apparent soon enough to break the spell (web id: 201324).

Performance, or rather the palpable lack of it, courtesy of the Via C7-M 1.2GHz processor, was the principal issue. Even with SUSE Linux 10 installed the 2133 felt desperately sluggish in use and multitasking was well out of the question. Now we've laid hands on the Vista Business version (part code: FF009AA), has our opinion changed?

The quick answer is yes - for the worse. With Asus, Acer, MSI et al wisely embracing the lesser demands of Windows XP Home, spending a few hours with the Mini-Note 2133 is enough to make anyone wonder what possessed HP to partner Microsoft's heavyweight OS with such a low-powered laptop.

HP has doubled the 2133's memory complement to 2GB to help ease the transition to Vista, but the processor remains the same VIA C7-M part running at 1.2Ghz. Unlike our US counterparts, UK customers can't buy the Mini-Note 2133 with the faster VIA C7-M 1.6GHz processor so, like it or lump it, we're stuck with the slower 1.2Ghz version for the foreseeable future.

We dread to think how slow the 2133 would be with just 1GB of memory though, as even with two, the HP is enough to test the most patient user. Turn it on and you'll be waiting at least a minute and a half before the hard disk has stopped thrashing and Vista Business is in a usable state - and that's with virtually all the non-essential startup items disabled. Click on Windows' Control Panel, and then you can count to five again, slowly.

Installing our benchmarks was a similarly tortuous experience, and with that ordeal over, we had to actually set them going. After what seemed an age - in the end, we had to leave it going overnight - the Mini-Note 2133 returned a dreadful score of 0.15. With MSI's Wind scoring 0.38 with the lesser demands of Windows XP Home and just 1GB of memory, the HP finds itself languishing someway behind the competition.

It's not all bad news, however. While we reported that watching full-screen YouTube videos smoothly lay outside of the original 2133's capabilities, an update to the VIA video and chipset drivers has certainly improved matters here.

It's still not perfectly smooth, but all the videos we tried were watchable in both windowed and full-screen form. There is some visual corruption affecting the timeline in full-screen mode, though, so hopefully a future update will rectify the issue. BBC's iPlayer still doesn't fare very well however and proved a struggle in a window, let alone full screen mode, which was jerky and unwatchable.

The second addition to this, the priciest in HP's current Mini-Note 2133 lineup, is the welcome sight of a six-cell battery. Well, we say welcome but, inexplicably, our model came with the original three-cell variant. Sitting idle the three-cell lasted for 2 hours and 12 minutes, and heavy usage saw that fall to just under an hour and a half.

Even if the six-cell doubles the 2133's stamina it will still struggle against the likes of Asus' Eee PC 901, but we'll hold off final judgment on that one until HP provide us with the six-cell battery for testing.