Base price: $294
Yes, this is the kind of netbook that makes full-fledged laptop makers a tad worried: most of a regular-sized laptops capabilities for a bargain basement $300. Okay, for this price the unit comes with a small 3-cell battery (while many competitors offer a 6-cell), which means its not keeping up as netbooks batteries run longer and longer.
The ergonomics on this unit are admirable. The 92 percent-sized keys are spaced widely enough for comfortable typing. The function keys are smartly engineered, with the more typical task assigned as the default option. On the touch pad, the mouse buttons are incorporated into the lower right and left corners, which allows for easy use, though some users prefer separate mouse buttons.
Cosmetically, this netbook favors a softer, elegant look, opting for a rounded, curved design for edges and lid. If the silver crystal lid doesnt excite you, you can pay extra for black, red or blue options. Choose that red option to impress everyone at your local coffee shop. (On the other hand, looks-wise, some users complain about the bulky battery.)
The 10.1-inch screen is glossy, not matte, so if youre in a brightly lit environment you might get some reflections on your screen. The starter version of the HP Mini 210 comes with the industry-standard: 1.6GHz Intel Atom N450, 802.11b/g wireless, 1GB RAM, 160GB of storage and Windows 7 Starter. The basic unit lacks Bluetooth.
Bottom line: A stylish, economical tool for todays casual user.
The HP Mini 210 netbook (photo courtesy HP)