Base price: $499
Product page: HP 2140 Mini-Note (HP allows some surprisingly candid user reviews on its product page; theyre worth checking out.)
First, realize that the 2140 is a big step past HPs earlier netbook effort, the 2133 Mini-Note. It runs cooler and quieter than that earlier portable. More important, it now has the industry standard Intel Atom chip instead of the lackluster Via chip.
To be sure, this second generation netbook isnt a budget option option; nope, its not the slacker-in-the-coffee-shop choice. Clearly on the pricey side, the HP 2140 Mini is aimed at the professional or serious student whos willing to shell out a few more bucks for an impressive, feature-laden netbook.
First off, its got Vista, a fat OS thats traditionally been too much of a resource hog to run on small netbooks. But reports suggest that Vista does okay on the HP 2140. (In theory you could always ask a techie friend to downgrade the 2140 to XP.)
One great feature: The HP Mini has an Expresscard 54 slot, a versatile expansion slot that allows you to plug in peripherals like mobile broadband, a TV tuner or an external drive. (Because of the Expresscard slot, the unit has only 2 USB instead of 3.) For a professional stuck on a plane or hoping to make a presentation without lugging a full-size unit, the HP Mini offers peripheral heaven. (Although with the AC adaptor its 3.8 pounds or 3 pounds without it so its not the lightest netbook.)
For a bit more money, you can upgrade to 2 GB RAM, making the 2140 the equal (or better) of many full-size laptops.
The unit offers a 16:9 aspect ratio, so plug in an external DVD player and watch a movie in the proper display option. Your fellow train riders will be green with envy.
The HP Minis build is solid; its aluminum, not plastic. The glass screen is glossy and therefore attractive to the eye. Most compelling, the keyboard is nearly full-size, 92 percent, making it comfortable for your big paws. HP claims the keys are coated to make them resistant to wear, but is keyboard wear a major issue?
The six-cell battery provides an impressive battery life its performance stands up to any netbook. However, the six-cell sticks out from the back, which is slightly awkward; you could opt for the three-cell, but then youd be down to shorter (but still respectable) 3.5 hours.
In a nice touch, HP includes its Fast Charge technology with the 2140, which charges the battery 90 percent in 90 minutes.
Another nice option: HP loads the 2140 Mini full of security software, including a power-on password. Your privacy will be protected with this unit.
Hardware Central says the HP 2140 Mini has one of the nicest, nearest-to-full-sized keyboards 92 percent of full size yet seen in the segment. And the unit has extra engineering done with reliability in mind, led by a technology HP calls 3D DriveGuard a three-axis accelerometer that senses a sudden drop or shock and instantly parks the hard drive.
CNET proclaims the HP 2140 Mini as the netbook to beat. (But the fact that the Mini is one of the pricier units didn't seem to figure in that calculation. The more expensive unit is supposed to be better, right?)
Laptop magazine calls the HP 2140 our top netbook pick for road warriors.
The HP 2140 Mini netbook (photo courtesy of HP)
Check out the list of top netbooks:
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