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HP Mini 210 review

Verdict

Excellent design, build quality and ergonomics, plus good battery life; a high-quality netbook

Review Date: 26 Apr 2010

Reviewed By: Mike Jennings

Price when reviewed: £256 (£301 inc VAT)

Overall Rating
5 stars out of 6

Features & Design
5 stars out of 6

Value for Money
5 stars out of 6

Performance
2 stars out of 6

PCPRO Recommended

The rosy glow that surrounded netbooks a couple of years ago has all but vanished thanks to the rise of CULV-based laptops and the upcoming wave of tablets, but the steady trickle of new models, of which the HP Mini 210 is the latest, indicates there’s still a market for these diminutive machines.

It’s also clear that the firms remaining in the market are now producing some of the best netbooks we’ve ever seen. The A-Listed Toshiba NB305 is a great-looking departure from the bland machines of old, and mere seconds with the Mini 210 is enough to see that it's in the same league.

The good impressions start with the metallic red finish on the lid, which gently curves at its edges, and continues to the netbook's smooth underside. Crack it open and you'll see an edge-to-edge 10.1in screen and a sharply styled interior, entirely coated with matte black plastic.

The Mini 210 looks sleeker than most of its rivals, and gives the Toshiba a run for its money in the style stakes. Even the HP’s various status lights – for hard disk access, wireless connectivity and power – all use the same cool, white LEDs.

The good-looking Mini 210 also feels well built. The wristrest barely deflected under pressure, the base felt just as sturdy, and the lid needed plenty of persuasion before any ripples could be seen on the LCD display.

That screen is good quality too. Reasonable colour accuracy is lent extra sheen by a glossy finish – which isn’t too distracting under the glare of office lights – and the native resolution of 1,024 x 600, while slightly cramped, strikes a good balance between desktop space and legibility.

The HP’s panel exhibited a grainy finish across lighter areas, but it’s no worse than the majority of its competition. Below the screen is a Scrabble-tile keyboard and it's very comfortable to use.

Each key has a surprising amount of travel, and each one responds in a consistent manner, thanks in part to the solid base. Couple this with a sensible layout and it’s easy to get up to speed.

HP Mini 210 rear view

The trackpad, meanwhile, is responsive and accurate, but it isn't perfect. It sits just too close to the keyboard for comfort, so that a stray thumb will cause the cursor to jump around the screen.

We're also not too keen on the fact that the buttons are built into its flat surface, along the bottom edge. Though they’re far better than the similar system used on Dell netbooks, we prefer separate, physical buttons.

Core components, as with most other netbooks, is where the excitement ends. It boasts a 1.6GHz Intel Atom N450 processor, a single gigabyte of RAM, a 250GB hard disk and Intel GMA 3150 graphics, which proved especially weak.

While the GPU streamed our 720p test files from the hard disk without fuss, HD content on YouTube and BBC iPlayer was unwatchable. The HP falls down on connectivity too, with only 802.11bg wireless. Performance, as you'd expect of a netbook with this sort of specification, isn't stellar.

Battery life is a more important point for comparison, however, and aside from the design it is the HP Mini 210's main highlight. In our light use battery test, it scored a highly creditable 8hrs 39mins – two minutes shy of the Toshiba NB305 – good enough to facilitate an entire day away from the mains.

Good battery life, design and ergonomics, plus a reasonable £256 exc VAT price, mean that HP’s latest netbook immediately becomes one of our favourites. The Toshiba retains its A List crown thanks to a better trackpad and wireless, but it’s a close-run thing and the stylish HP is good enough to earn a Recommended award instead.

Author: Mike Jennings

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User comments

Nvidia Ion missing, yet again.

When will you guys do a roundup of Nvidia ION based netbooks.

I've relied on your reviews for years, and they're great, but when you ignore a whole stratum of the market that I'm interested in it's as frustrating as hell.

I simply don't want to buy a netbook with Intel graphics, PERIOD!

By dr_japeel on 29 Apr 2010

Performance

How can you give a 4 star overall rating when performance is only 2 stars. Do people buy net books to sit on the mantle piece to admire or to use? Why would you buy a netbook with poor HD video and crap WiFi? For me makes it barely one star. I never was good at maths but isn't the average of 10 when rounded down 3!

By ajpeee on 2 May 2010

Nice, AFFORDABLE, portable netbook

Hp mini 210 with:
160 gig hard drive(7200rpm), 6 cell battery, wireless B/G/N, windows XP, etc...

I custom ordered this computer from Hp and 2 weeks later, I got it Fedex. After removing some unwanted software, I was pleasantly surprised. This is a nice computer for the money. Sure, you can get a nicer, faster computer, but it will cost more. My mini 210 also only requires 1 USB port for my external DVD/CD recorder.
Remember, this is NOT a substitute for a desktop pc. This is a scaled down affordable version of whats at home or work.

By mikesmigaj on 9 May 2010

Nvidia Ion too

Yes, I'd like to see more netbook/nettop hardware with the ion GPU/chipset reviewed too. Given the lack of muscle in the cpu, netbooks without the ion gpu (or equivalent if available) should be marked down in reviews.

By iclbmc1 on 11 May 2010

HP 210 Mini Netbook disappointment.

I bought my HP Mini 210 on eBay. It was barely used. Since owning it I have also barely used it as it falls flat on its face as to what a Netbook should be. I am talking about the SIM slot which is actually a dummy! Absolutely useless! IMHO a proper Netbook has to have have embedded 3G. Whilst the HP 210 is fairly small it is still a waste of space. Anyone want to buy a hardly used Netbook?

By davey1000 on 9 Sep 2012

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