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HP Just announced the Mini 5101, a new Netbook aimed at professionals. Because it will be moved around a lot, it comes with a tough aluminum casing around the display while the rest of the body is made of magnesium alloy. The paint used on the palm rest is soft however. It feels like an organic material.

HP is taking disk performance seriously and proposes a 7200rpm hard disk, with a free fall detector, or a 80/128GB SSD drive. Of you pick the optional Gobi module, there’s no need to purchase an external wireless broadband modem because Gobi chip is compatible with virtually every mobile network in the U.S. That is a potential money-saver here.

There are little details that we liked, when compared to the HP Mini 2140, like the trackpad buttons that are now placed below the pad, instead of the sides. The keyboard is slightly larger (95% vs. 92%). The 5101 has WIFI-N, which is faster than the “G” equivalent. The memory is also very easy to upgrade, although at 2GB, this is a bit limited. 3GB or 4GB would be great.

By default, it comes with a 4-Cell battery, but it is possible to use a 6-Cell (HP rates it at 8 hours). Also, there is a battery life indicator a little like the one found on the new Macs. It is a nice touch. If you need an external drive and additional ports, HP has created a line of accessories to accompany the HP Mini 5101. The USB-based port replicator costs $79. Customers can choose, Windows Home/XP, Linux or no-OS (DOS).

We might be a bunch of geeks working in a dark room, but we really wish that there was a backlit keyboard in there. Quick question: would you pay $20 or $30 for such an upgrade?

Highlights

  • 10.1″ display (WSVGA)
  • Fast hard drive or SSD
  • Gobi wireless chip
  • 2.6lbs (similar to the 2140)
  • 4-Cell or 6-Cell battery (8hrs)
  • Starts at $449

Filed in Computers >Top Stories. Read more about HP, laptops and Netbook.

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