HP’s new Mini 1000 and MIE Linux make netbooks fun again

We’ve struggled to stay awake for the vast majority of this year, as netbook after netbook lands in our laps with identical specs, form factors and overall poor quality. Not anymore. HP is giving the market a boost with its new lean “clutch-style” form factors, polished Linux operating system and aggressive pricing – even if the specs are about as boring as the Mini-Note 2133. the new Mini 1000 netbook ditches VIA and goes the Atom route (1.6 GHz N270, in case you haven’t guessed). Also new is an option for a 10.2-inch screen, although it’s only 1024 x 600 instead of the 1280 x 768 screen on the 2133 – for a bit cheaper you can get an 8.9-inch 1024 x 600 display, but that would just be boring. HP offers 512MB, 1GB, and 2GB RAM configurations, though the XP option limits you to 1GB (thanks, Microsoft). For storage, you can score a 60GB 4200rpm hard drive or your choice of an 8GB or 16GB SSD. If you go the SSD route, there’s also room for a ” HP Mini Mobile Drive” of 2, 4 or 8 GB, which is an ordinary USB drive that fits completely into a special slot for additional integration. There’s also an SD slot, VGA webcam, 802.11b/g, optional Bluetooth, Ethernet and two USB sockets. Where things get even more interesting is in the choice of operating system. You can go the standard XP route, or for $20 less you can opt for HP’s brand new Ubuntu-based Linux “experience”, MIE, which not only reminds us of HP’s TouchSmart interface. The XP version is available today starting at $399, with a 10.2-inch version costing a bit more. The Vivienne Tam Edition, which brings lots of style but little substance to the offering, will retail for $699 in mid-December, and the MIE version will land in January for just $379.

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