Tuesday, June 15, 2021

HP Mini-Note a Sound Choice

HP’s entry into the
sub-Mini-Notebook arena comes in the form of the HP 2133, a
sleek-looking, brushed aluminum finished, lightweight but well built
beauty. You can see the attention to detail in the engineering when
you first open it up. From the sturdy hinge to the scratch resistant
display and connectivity options you’ll find just about everything
you would expect in an ultra-mobile laptop.

For this test we were
provided with an HP 2133 equipped with a 1.2 GHz VIA processor, 1 GB
of memory, a 120 GB 5400 rpm SATA disk drive and an 8.9 inch screen.
The standard 3-cell battery is supposed to give you up to 145 minutes
(2 hours 15 minutes) of run time depending on usage. They do offer a
6-cell battery that increases your run time up to 5 hours, but we
weren’t provided with one.

SUSE Linux Enterprise
Desktop (SLED) SP1 was the installed operating system as delivered on
our test unit. Novell has recently released SP2 for SLED, and we went
through the update process to give it a spin as well. HP markets this
unit to the educational market which would seem to point toward
college students. The unit is great for surfing the web, checking
e-mail or instant messaging although the battery life with the
standard 3-cell battery will be a drawback.

SLED comes with a
number of productivity tools as a standard part of the distribution.

OpenOffice.org 2.3 Novell
Edition is one of the key tools along with the rest of the Open
Office Suite. Browsing the Internet is a pleasant experience with the
installed Firefox version 2.0.0.13. Updating to SLED SP2 installed
Firefox version 2.0.0.14.

Evolution takes care of
the Personal Information Management (PIM) duties of e-mail, contacts,
calendaring and tasks quite nicely. Configuring Evolution to work
with Google Mail was a snap. Once that’s done you have a very
capable e-mail tool you can carry around with you (see Figure 1).
Importing contacts from an external VCF file takes no more than three
mouse clicks.

One of the annoying
things about some of the pre-installed tools is the configuration
process. For example, the first time you start Evolution you must
enter information on a number of dialogs that exceed the screen real
estate at 800X600 on the Mini-Note. While it isn’t impossible to get
past the screens, it does require a little mouse movement to get to
all the text boxes and “Next” buttons.

Software updates must
be enabled before they will work. This requires you to go to Open
Administrator Settings from the Control Panel and go through the
Novell Customer Center Configuration process. Once this is complete
you will have access to the main software update repositories, and
the automatic notifier should work.

After these actions I
was able to update the Mini-Note to SLED SP2. There were a few
dependency issues that popped up during the update process (see
Figure 2). I chose to ignore the conflicts where I could, and the
update seemed to finish without any issues. Rebooting the system was
required and after that I was presented with pretty much the same
user interface as before.

The size and weight of
the HP 2133 Mini-Note makes it really easy to tuck inside a small
backpack or even a medium sized purse. Individual USB plugs are
available on both sides of the unit for ease of access along with
power, wired networking, an SD card slot, external VGA monitor, an
Express Card/54 slot and headphone / microphone jacks. I did notice
that the unit got pretty hot while turned on with the AC power supply
connected and the battery charging.

Typing on the 98% full
size keyboard takes a little getting used to. The first draft of this
article was written on the Mini-Note to get a good feel for using it
in everyday activities. The touchpad has buttons on both sides and
while it does have the scroll pad function on the right side, it
didn’t seem to consistently work. There is a button at the top of
the touchpad to disable it should you desire. This can help when
you’re typing a large amount of text and don’t want the cursor to
jump around if your thumb touches the touchpad.

The default screen size
setting is set to 800 X 600. This isn’t a real problem when running
most of the productivity software as you can adjust your zoom size to
fit the application. The display will support 1280 X 768 which you
can change through the display configuration screen. This made the
text a little hard to read, but that too is configurable.

Networking options
include 802.11 a/b/g wireless and 10/100/1000Mbps wired Ethernet. The
unit I received did not have Bluetooth so I was not able to test out
any wireless peripherals. I did have to make one change to the
security settings to get the Mini-Note to see a Windows-based server.
From the Control Center you must select Open Administrator Settings.
From there you must choose Security and Users and then Firewall.

By default SLED comes
configured with all network interfaces set to the highest level of
protection. Changing the configuration for a specific interface
requires you to select a different zone that the interface will
connect to. The default zone is External, but you’ll need to change
that to Internal to enable the ports needed to communicate with
Windows servers. Once this change was made I was able to see all the
Windows machines on the network and easily move files to and from the
Mini-Note.

I did have some
problems with the unit locking up at random times. It happened
several times while rapidly browsing through web pages using Firefox
and another time while editing a document using OpenOffice.org. The only
recourse was to power cycle the device by sliding and holding the
power button for five seconds. I didn’t have any problems
restarting the system after the power cycle and was able to recover
the OpenOffice.org document I was editing.

Overall the HP 2133
Mini-Note is a solid, light weight, well built machine. It should
perform well for the target market with the noted exception of
battery life with the 3-cell battery. Novell’s SUSE Linux
Enterprise Desktop comes with all the productivity software a student
should need along with the essential Internet tools. While the price
tag is a little higher than similar sized models from ASUS and
others, you definitely get additional value for the money.

Resources

These websites have
lots of information and links related to the HP 2133 Mini-Note:

http://Mini-Noteuser.com/

http://www.hp2133guide.com/

HP 2133 Mini-Note model
KX869AT

$599 as tested from

http://shopping.hp.com

$129 for 6-cell battery

This article was first published on LinuxPlanet.com.

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