The HP Mininote 2133 is the nettop that has the best construction quality among those that we tried. The keyboard keys are about as large as those found on a “normal” laptop keyboard, although their spacing is tighter. The keyboard finish is exceptional – I wish that they made desktop keyboards with the same “touch” and finish (I’m not 100% sure that keys are made of metal, but they do feel like it). The laptop body is as impeccable and it’s also true for the 1280×768 display, which shows sharp text on a glossy finish. So what do you get for the price ($550) and what can you do with it? Is this the sub-laptop that you were waiting for? Not everyone has the same needs, but from our review, you should be able to imagine if this computer will be a good fit, or not.
There are two HP Mini Note 2133 versions, and we tested the beefier one. It has 2GB of RAM, a 1.6Ghz processor (Via C7), Windows Vista 32 Business Edition, a bigger 6–cell battery and a 120GB hard disk.
This is not a very fast machine, so we used it as one would use a nettop: by working with web services like Google docs, webmail and IM (Skype 4.0 Beta). For these applications, it works quite well. As long as the site does not have *fullscreen* streaming video (the graphics can’t keep up), the experience is not really different from a larger laptop because the internet is the limiting factor. It was a breeze to edit text and send emails. Video conferencing via Skype worked fairly well, but the voice was a little digitized (robotic-like) and the video resolution on both ends was reduced by half at some point. Still, it worked well enough to get the job done.
While testing it, ergonomics quickly became an issue: I rapidly felt uncomfortable working on such a small machine.
The keyboard is great, but the tiny arrow keys take time to get used to, and even then, they are nowhere near a normal size, so there’s some productivity loss.
The screen is small and its very high resolution (while great technically) could pose a challenge after an hour or so, even for users with a good sight. It’s just really small. Because of its size and because the screen does not tilt far enough back, I had to take a pose that was not comfortable.
Other than that, it’s a great machine to check emails from time to time and carry around when roaming from a meeting to another. It would be a great “second laptop” if you’re one of those who spend their day glancing at emails in various meeting rooms. It’s also great if you work on PowerPoint presentations.
Mobile Blogging Dream?
Now, I wondered if it would be a good (live) blogging computer, so I tried. Fundamentally, it’s worse than my old 13.3″ Vaio SZ in terms of productivity, but it costs considerably less (four times). But I the end, I would rather blog live with my larger laptop, for now.
Slow boot: Because this computer is loaded with Vista, we get to wait 1mn 33sec tyo go from OFF to the login screen. Once the password was entered, we had to wait for another 56 seconds before hitting a web page. That’s effectively 2.5 minutes of boot time before doing something useful. It doesn’t sound like much, but it’s quite annoying. I suspect that the Linux version boots faster, but I have yet to get my hands on it.
The physical design of this laptop is impeccable, except may be for the big battery. There are details that I like: for example, the Ethernet port is freely accessible (no plastic cap) and the USB ports are conviniently located. The mousepad de-activation is a nice touch too, especially if you keep hitting the pad with the wrist while typing. As we said earlier, the keyboard is great, but still quite too small for my taste – I can’t blame HP for this, because I really don’t see how it could have been better, given the allocated space (oh, a backlight would be fantastic).
However, There are a few things that should be fixed: the “mouse” buttons travel space is way too long. It makes clicking difficult, especially when trying to do a drag & drop with one hand. The display doesn’t tilt backwards enough, which hurts the neck (and I’m just 5’11).
With the 6–cell battery, the HP mini-note 2133 should get somewhere around 4 hours of battery life of “normal” web-browsing. Settings: screen dimed to 50%, balanced power settings. With the smaller 3–cell battery, that should be cut in half.
The computer gets hotter than I would have imagined. The hotest spots are located in the lower-left corder of the laptop (bottom) and are approximately120 degrees (F) hot. It’s not catastrophic, but it is surprising for a “low-power” machine.
The HP 2133 is an interesting computer. Its superior construction will attract those who are willing to pay a bit more to get good quality materials and design, while staying in a *relatively* low price range (netbooks became famous for their $300 price). You should know that the Mini-note is not built for extended periods of work (for ergonomic reasons), but it is suitable to someone who needs look at data at real desktop resolution (web, spreadsheet, graphics and so on…) but not enter or create large amounts of data. It’s a formidable presentation (PowerPoint) computer. There you go, this is our experience of the HP 2133. We played with it for a few weeks before writing this review so that the “oh it’s so cute” factor wears out. If you have additional questions or remarks, please leave a comment.
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