The HP 2133 Mini-Note has been eagerly anticipated for awhile as the focus shifts more and more towards the growing ultra-portable, er… excuse me Ultra-Low-Cost PC market. HP has gone on record saying that “you won’t even need to consider this purchase. You’ll buy it like a handphone without a thought.” Well, starting at $499 for the Linux version and $599 for the Windows Vista version, it is close to the rest of the market that seems to have its sights set below $500. I’m not sure about the “not a thought” part. But set that aside.
The HP 2133 Mini-Note is quite a nice ultra-portable. I’ve had the good fortune to check out a pre-production model of the 2133 and for what and who it is designed for it will be a very popular machine, I have no doubt. No, it is not a Tablet PC, nor is it a UMPC with a touchscreen. It is designed and targeted for the education markets and also the mobile professional who wants and needs a keyboard to input data. For its small size it has a nice size keyboard (92% full size) that works well in my hands.
The version I’m evaluating comes with Windows Vista and is running a VIA C7-M Processor 1200Mhz running at 1.20GHz. It contains a 120GB HD spinning at 7200 RPM. All of that yields a Vista Experience score of 1.7 with the processor as the governing mark there. But keep in mind that HP is not looking at this for the power user. Instead their eye is on those who need a mobile device for content consumption (the Internet) and light document creation. If you are a student or you’re headed into the cloud you are their target. If you’re looking for some heavy processing power, this isn’t he device for you.
The HP 2133 Mini-Note will offer a range of user configurable options that include everything from processor speed to operating system to hard drive size. I love how it is listed in the press materials:
The HP 2133 doesn’t box you into a configuration you don’t want. Have it your way with four OS options, three processor options, three memory options, five storage options, 3 wireless options, 2 battery options, even a VGA camera option.
All that is missing is the partridge in a pear tree.
A webcam and BlueTooth are options, as well, although I believe these both should come standard on all of these ultra-portables. Time to make that happen, OEMs. There is a 6 cell or a 3 cell battery option, and you can choose HD specs as well ranging from 120 to 160GB at 5400rpm or 7200rpm or an 4GB SATA Flash Module with SUSE Linux. Of course depending on how you configure the device will affect the weight. HP lists the weight as starting at 2.63lbs. Users can also opt for XP as an OS option, which should play well in the targeted XP market.
The screen is an 8.1 inch diagonal WXGA (1280×768) display and is quite bright. It has a glossy finish and is quite nice to look at. Speaking of finish, the 2133 has a magnesium alloy case and the keys are coated with a clear coating that is called HP DuraKeys that is designed to protect the keys so that the letters and characters don’t wear down. The keyboard is also spill resistant and is designed to withstand 7 years of keyboard usage (which is defined as 10 million keystrokes.) The device is sturdy to hold, sturdily constructed, and feels good in my hands. That said, as far as ultra-portables I’ve had in my hands it is definitely larger and heavier than others.
While the strengths of the HP 2133 are its mobility, functionality, and configurability, I do have a few niggles. I’m not a fan of the trackpad. Designed to mirror the wide-screen display it is too wide for my tastes and working with the two buttons I’m clumsy at best. I’m also curious as to why there isn’t a user configurable option to purchase an embedded 3G solution. But maybe that will come later. The VIA processor on the pre-production model I’m testing performs well once the machine is booted, but initial boot up takes quite some time. Although that may change in the final shipping units.
In the ultra-portable or ultra-low-cost portable computer segment this is going to be a device to be reckoned with, especially in the education sector which is one of the main targets. It will be at the high end of the still evolving low cost sector, but I imagine given the full functionality and the configurability it will be very popular. Whether or not the slightly higher price point can dethrone the Asus Eee PC is a story we’ll all get to watch unfold.
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