By Eric Grevstad
March 26, 2009
HP Mini 2140
Pros: 802.11a / b / g / draft-n Wi-Fi; Bluetooth; cheerful performances; top notch keyboard.
Cons: awkward touchpad; small screen; more expensive than competitors in its class.
A year ago, HP entered the netbook market. Well, stepped in. Well put a toe. The HP 2133 was a 2.9-pound laptop with a glossy 8.9-inch display and one of the nicest, closest-to-full-size keyboards – 92 percent of full-size, HP touted – but saw in the segment.
But while the specs of the 2133 more than withstood the 7-inch display and cluttered keyboard of the pioneer Asus Eee PC 4G, it was equipped with a slow VIA C-7 processor and marketed primarily as a backpack for Kindergarten through 12 students. It wasn’t until last fall that HP launched a full-fledged mainstream netbook, reshaping the 2133 around Intel’s ubiquitous Atom processor and a 10-inch display. inches to make it the Mini 1000 (and giving it a shiny red case and artistic flourishes to appeal to fashionistas with an expensive Vivienne Tam edition).
Like other netbooks, of course, the 2133 and Mini 1000 have been bought and used by lots of businessmen as well as children and consumers. , browsing the web, and doing a little editing work on a report or presentation created on a desktop computer is what made this category a success.
But now, HP has gotten more precise: the 10.1-inch-screen Mini 2140 is the company’s first netbook aimed specifically at mobile professionals. Externally, that means an aluminum case rather than plastic – a solid silver gray, without the scribble and swirl patterns that decorate consumer laptops from HP (and other vendors) or the hues of red, blue, and pink. Crayola available on other netbooks. We find it nicely understated, or discreetly beautiful if you prefer.
There’s also additional engineering done with reliability in mind, led by technology HP calls 3D DriveGuard – a three-axis accelerometer that detects a sudden drop or shock and instantly parks the hard drive. We have seen this security feature in HP’s, Lenovo’s, and many other business laptops. It’s a pleasure and a plus to see it in a netbook, although a 2.6-pound compact shouldn’t be confused with a really rugged system. Our test unit went through a few bumps and snags, but we refrained from dropping it more than an inch or two on a desk.
If you are really terrified of the prospect of a hard drive crash, you can order a custom Mini 2140 with an 80GB SSD. However, this solution with no moving parts costs $ 575 more than the Hitachi 160GB drive. , 5,400 rpm of our model. In fact, our entire model cost $ 449.
Your operating system of choice
This gives you a Mini 2140 with the 160 GB hard drive mentioned above, Windows XP Home Edition, and the same Atom N270 processor that can be found in almost every netbook at your local electronics outlet – a single-core chip from 1.6 GHz (well, one and a half-core for applications that can take advantage of Intel’s Hyper-Threading technology) with 512 KB of level 2 cache.
A gigabyte of DDR2 memory is standard; the 2GB maximum system is a $ 50 option, and also requires a change from Win XP Home to another operating system – HP offers Windows Vista, Vista with a “downgrade” to Windows XP Professional and SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop 10. The McAfee Online Security Suite and Microsoft Office 2007 Trial are preinstalled.
On the left side of the HP you’ll find microphone and headphone jacks, a USB 2.0 port, and a VGA connector for an external monitor. A second USB port is on the right, along with an Ethernet jack and Secure Digital and ExpressCard / 54 slots, the first for a flash memory card, the last for wireless broadband add-on. That’s not to say the 2140 doesn’t have its own wireless capabilities – Broadcom’s 802.11a / b / g / draft-n adapter covers all Wi-Fi variants, and Bluetooth is built in as well.
The flush-mounted three-cell battery barely gets a passing mark: HP claims it offers up to four hours of battery life, but our real-world work sessions (with Wi-Fi on and the brightness of the monitor) ‘screen at its highest setting)) ended after two and a half hours. A six-cell battery that protrudes slightly from the back of the case is a $ 25 option.
Netbooks are all about convenience, not colossal benchmark scores, but the Mini 2140 has proven to be cheerful and responsive in every use case we’ve thrown at it. For the record, it just beats the 8.9-inch Acer Aspire One with the same Atom processor and the same integrated Intel GMA 950 graphics card that we tested last August.
The HP posted a PCMark05 score of 1,539 (1,293 CPU; memory 2,159; hard drive 4,719; graphics 576), with a CrystalMark 2004R3 rating of 29,210. Potential gamers looking forward to something more racy than Minesweeper will be disappointed, as you might expect, with a 3DMark06 score of 122 and leisurely seventeen and a half minutes to make the example image of Cinebench R10.
HP was wise not to meddle with the top-notch keyboard that debuted on the 2133: the flat, tile-style keys span 7.5 inches from A to apostrophe, barely half an inch from less than on a keyboard but typing feeling quite fast. HP says a clear coating on the card, dubbed DuraKeys, protects the finish and printed characters from wear and tear over time.
As with many larger laptops, the cursor arrows work together with an Fn key to replace the dedicated Home, End, PgUp, and PgDn keys, but there are no other cramping tradeoffs. And the Ctrl and Del keys are correctly located in the lower left and upper right corners, respectively.
The 2140’s touchpad performs well but is slightly less appealing – it’s rectangular rather than square (like a widescreen HDTV versus an older 4: 3 aspect ratio game), which leaves it a bit short on the margin. vertical maneuver, with rubbery mouse buttons placed on either side rather than below. However, you will get used to it with a little practice.
Short on resolution
More seriously, the touchpad isn’t the only thing that seems stretched and shortened. While the first HP netbook’s screen compressed 1280 x 768 pixels to 8.9 inches diagonally, making the slider and small menu or dialog text uncomfortably small for our aging baby boomer eyes, the Mini 2140 features a larger 10.1-inch screen but less than 1,024 by 576, a 4% Y-axis reduction from the 1,024 x 600 which has become an unofficial standard for netbooks among other providers.
The reason is that HP decided to jump on the 16: 9 bandwagon, announcing the same aspect ratio as HDTV and most large, entertainment-oriented laptops. The quirk is that, (a.) We don’t expect users to watch a lot of HD video on a netbook – yes, you can plug in a USB tuner, but the Atom processor and GMA 950 graphics will never be satisfactory. -def performance. And (b.), The screen is too small to display HD anyway, since the smaller of the two HD formats is 1280 by 720 pixels.
During this time, you’ll need to scroll a bit more in everyday apps or get used to seeing one less spreadsheet row. A few complaints on the HP shopping site even claim that a few programs do not work on the 2140, software that refuses to believe that a modern PC would not have at least the vertical resolution of 600 pixels of SVGA circa 1990. We had to plug in a monitor to run our benchmark tests.
Fortunately, a “Coming Soon” tag on the same HP site promises a 1366 by 768 HD panel option in the near future, but we’ll have to wait and see how much that adds to the price of the Mini 2140. For now, we admit that the 1024 x 576 screen is crisp and bright (if only in the first two LED backlight settings), with beautiful colors and crisp text. We also really like the scratch resistant acrylic cover which makes the entire display area a perfectly smooth and shiny surface.
A step above
It’s nice design touches like the screen cover and keyboard, along with hardware perks like the ExpressCard and Bluetooth slot, that you need to keep in mind when considering the $ 449 price tag. from HP: it’s about a hundred dollars more than what you would pay otherwise. Comparable to rival specs (1.6GHz Atom, 1GB RAM, 160GB HDD, 10.1 inch screen) rival Acer, MSI or another manufacturer in your local supermarket.
The Mini 2140 is one of the prettiest netbooks we’ve seen. As is, we would gladly pay a $ 50 premium for its excellent keyboard alone; it is a little less certain that we would pay a premium of $ 100. It may depend on whether HP added the six-cell battery or the higher resolution display. Or, since we are greedy, both.
Article courtesy of HardwareCentral.com.