Top Netbook: HP Mini 5102

The HP Mini 5102, selling for $415 or more, presents itself as a top netbook option. Does it live up to its lofty price range?
Are you a sophisticated business professional who's shopping for a top netbook? An executive whose briefcase holds only the finest gear available? Congratulations. You're part of an elite audience, one of two target markets for HP's flagship netbook, the Mini 5102. The other? Who else belongs to such a deluxe demographic? Are you sure you want to know?

OK. It's the kid next door and his chums in grade school.

Actually, it makes sense to consider an ultraportable built for the rigors of the K-12 crowd. It explains why, compared to other netbooks, the Mini 5102 bears a bit of a premium price at $415 (or a super-premium price if you want a custom-configured model; more on that in a minute).

Instead of the usual plastic case with rounded corners, the 2.6-pound 5102 is a black metal slab with an anodized, brushed-aluminum top and magnesium-alloy base, reminiscent of HP's handsome ProBook laptops (or Lenovo's ThinkPads, for that matter). Like the company's EliteBook notebooks, the Mini has a spill-resistant keyboard plus HP's 3D DriveGuard, an accelerometer that senses and instantly parks the hard drive in the event of a drop or fall. One option for little hands, a built-in carrying handle, is so nifty that adults will be tempted by it too.

The chiclet- or island-style keyboard is another attraction. Though not quite full-size (the A through apostrophe keys span 7.7 instead of 8 inches), it's extremely comfortable, with a firm, precise feel for fast typing; a fumble-free, intuitive layout; and a top row of brightness, volume, and other control buttons that don't require holding down a Fn key (they team with the Fn key for F1 through F12). The touchpad below the space bar is small and its glossy surface collects finger smudges, but it works well, with nicely tactile yet quiet buttons.

top netbook, hp mini 5102

Read the rest at Hardware Central.

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