Latest HP Netbook Grows Up, Stays Mini

Though HP officially announced its newest netbook--the Mini 2140--only moments ago, we had the chance earlier to kick the tires on this business-minded box. Essentially, this 2100 series model is what the Mini 1000 aspires to be when it grows up. The line starts at $499 and goes up to $629 for a premium model that hosts a speedy 160GB, 7200-rpm hard-disk drive. The Mini 2140 can take a beating thanks to its rugged frame and aluminum lid. But is it worth the asking price?

You could just click the link to read my full review of the new Mini 2140; but before jumping to that, you might want to stick around for a quick history lesson. When HP released the 2133, in April 2008, it was the first netbook that didn't look like a toy. That alone got my attention, but the lackluster VIA C7-M processor made it run Windows Vista Business Edition--that's right--unbearably slowly. Fast-forward to today's announcement and HP has obviously learned from its first foray into the mini laptop market.

Here's the 2-second takeaway on the Mini 2140: It's a vast improvement over the 2133, as you'd expect. But what's interesting is how little the design changed (aside from incorporating a much superior CPU) in achieving the advance. The 2140 is hardy enough to withstand being shoved into a book bag. It looks as though it means business. The downside is that it also costs a little more.

Though we don't yet have the hard lab numbers needed to calculate a overall PCW rating for the Mini 2140, HP has assembled a compelling package that could go toe-to-toe with the Asus N10Jc. But like Asus's heavyweight netbook, the Mini 2140 carries a price tag that approaches what you'd expect to find on a good all-purpose laptop like the Sony VGN-NR485 ($800) or a cheap ultraportable such as Acer's sub-$1000 TravelMate 6293. As 2009 unfolds, the line between notebooks and netbooks is likelier to grow even fuzzier, thanks to new CPUs and slicker designs.

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At a Glance
  • The HP Mini 2140 netbook improves on the earlier Mini 2133, but it retains its predecessor's awkward mouse buttons. Read the full review

    Pros

    • Premium model features speedy hard drive
    • Rugged design and aluminum frame

    Cons

    • Awkwardly placed mouse buttons
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