4 Mini-laptops: Which Is Best?

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HP 2133 Mini-Note PC

Style and performance go head-to-head on Hewlett-Packard's 2133 Mini-Note PC -- and power loses out to appearance. While its rounded brushed aluminum case is cool looking, the system comes up short when it's time to work or play. Still, at $550, it's a lot of computer stuffed into a small package with excellent audio.

Weighing 2.6 pounds, the 2133 is the second heaviest mini in this group, but with its AC adapter it weighs 3.3 pounds, as much as the bigger Eee PC 1000. Annoyingly, like the Aspire One, it requires a three-prong AC plug to charge up, which sooner or later will be frustrating.

At 1.1 inches thick, the 2133 fits comfortably in the hand. The system's footprint is a long and narrow 10.1 by 6.5 inches; it doesn't come with a case.

What it does have is a 1.2-GHz Via C7-M processor, which ties the 2133 with the G Netbook as the slowest in the group. The 2133 came with 512MB of system memory and a 104GB hard drive, the largest storage of the group. There's a model that has 4GB of flash memory instead of a hard drive for $500; systems with Windows Vista start at $600.

Like the Aspire One, the 2133's 8.9-in. screen can show 1024-by-600 resolution, but the display has a scratch-resistant coating to protect the glass from damage. With speakers on each side of the screen, the 2133 had the best audio of the bunch. The output was loud and clear for spoken word as well as music, and the system has a webcam above the display.

At a Glance

2133 Mini-Note PC

Hewlett-Packard Development Co.

Price (as tested): $550

Pros: Sleek aluminum skin, good audio, 100GB-plus of storage

Cons: Disappointing performance, runs hot, three-prong plug

On the other hand, its assortment of ports is disappointing, with only a pair of USB connectors, one less than the Aspire One and the Eee PC 1000. There's an external monitor plug, wired networking connector, and microphone and headphone jacks. The 2133's Express card slot is balanced by its lack of a flash card reader. It's equipped with 802.11a/b/g wireless networking with a range of 105 feet.

The 2133's 17.3mm keys have only 1.6mm of depth, making for tentative typing. On the other hand, the notebook has a large touchpad and a switch to turn it off when you're using a mouse.

The system is built around the SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop, but oddly it has a Windows key as well. The key brings up the operating system's shortcut screen that leads to Applications, Documents and Places. The system comes with OpenOffice 2.3's suite of basic programs, including applications for word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, e-mail and others.

The 2133 Mini-Note easily handled all our hardware and data files, and came with an impressive mix of software, including programs for instant messaging and making voice over IP calls. But, saddled with a slow processor, the 2133 could not keep up with the faster notebooks. It took the longest to open the Acrobat file and print the Word file.

Its 2,590 milli-amp hour battery came up short, lasting only one hour and 40 minutes on a charge, the shortest of the bunch. Clearly not for the road warrior, the 2133 Mini-Note PC might find an audience in those who are taken by its looks and high-quality sound.

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