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HP Mini 2140

>> Friday, April 3, 2009

HP Mini 2140 shares the same basic silhouette as the earlier Mini 1000 and Mini Note 2133 systems from HP. Because it has an aluminum case, like the 2133, it's a half pound heavier than the plastic Mini 1000 it's a trade off that may be worth it, however, as the metallic Mini 2140 feels as if it'll stand up to the rigors of the road better than a plastic Netbook. The biggest selling point for HP's Netbooks has always been the fantastic keyboard, which HP claims is 92 percent of the size of a full size laptop keyboard.

Other Netbooks have been plagued by tiny Chiclet like keys, which make typing a pain and typos plentiful. By expanding the keyboard right to the edges of the system, HP is able to fit bigger keys into the tray than other Netbooks (and even ultraportable laptops). The result is a comfortable typing experience that takes a tiny bit of adjustment (as the keys are very close together), but one that is, thus far, our favorite on a sub 12 inch notebook.

The touch pad has an unusual shape, stretched into a letterbox like wide rectangle and the mouse buttons have been moved to the left and right sides of the touch pad. This permits the system to have a minimal amount of wasted wrist rest space, but it's a somewhat awkward compromise, especially if you do a lot of vertical scrolling or right clicking. The 10.1 inch wide screen LED display has an unusual 1.024x576 native resolution, which is a few pixels shy of the 1,024x600 we typically see in Netbooks.

The end result is largely unnoticeable, but a Windows XP pop-up window expressed concern that we weren't running at a standard resolution. Besides its big keyboard, HP Mini 2140 has one major selling point that no other Netbook currently offers a full ExpressCard 54 slot. Lenovo's S10 has a half size ExpressCard 34 slot, but there are fewer options for add on peripherals in that size. We rarely find that we actually need an ExpressCard slot for anything, but some rely on them for mobile broadband modems, memory card readers, or even TV tuners.

HP offers a handful of fixed configuration versions of the 2140, but we're perfectly happy with the basic $499 model, which has an Intel Atom CPU, 1GB of RAM, and a 160GB hard drive. For $50 more, a smart upgrade might be an identical version with 2GB of RAM, but that comes with Windows Vista Basic. Adding an XP "downgrade" to that model adds another $80 onto that (but also includes a faster 7,200rpm hard drive).

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