HP 2133 Mini-Note notebook

With the Asus Eee dominating the small laptop sector, HP wants to bully its way in to the mindset of travellers packing light with a mini notebook of its own. Is it worth a look? We get working on the move to find out.

Weighing in at just 1.27kg, sporting a glossy 8.9-inch screen and only 33mm thick the HP 2133 Mini-Note is it has to be said small, but solid.

Compared to the Asus Eee PC, it's wider and heavier, but the same depth and thickness. It's also considerably sturdier and nowhere near as flimsy.

That extra width benefits mainly the keyboard with the HP mini-note sporting a QWERTY keyboard that is 92% the size of a full-size offering. It's clear that the extra real estate offered here makes typing considerably easier than the Eee. At 92% keys are virtually full size and the keyboard is laid out as standard offering no surprises.

As with most laptop keyboards the F keys double up as shortcuts and you're able to set screen brightness, as well as control volume all at the press of two buttons.

Above the keyboard is the glossy 8.9-inch screen that sports a resolution up to 1280 x 768. Slightly over-reflective, certainly out in the sun, this resolution also suffers from being small meaning you'll have to strain your eyes to see what is going on. For us, we preferred running it at 1024 x 768. There is also an integrated 1.3 megapixel webcam.

Either side of the keyboard are the notebook's speakers in a similar arrangement to the Asus Eee 7-inch screen model. Sound, given the size, is surprisingly good, offering a well-rounded sound on the range of music and video that we listened to.

Below the keyboard is a tiny trackpad (3 x 6cm). While widescreen to emulate the display, the small size means it's almost impossible to use. More confusing is that the left and right buttons have been moved to either side of the trackpad rather than below. It might sound petty, but we still can't get used to it and our recommendation would be to get yourself a laptop mouse ASAP if you plan do use the pointer to any degree of normality. Luckily you can turn it off to stop accidental use.

When it comes to connections there aren't masses but enough to get you out of trouble. Being so small there obviously isn't a CD or DVD drive, however you do get a PC Express card slot alongside an SD card reader, two USB sockets, an Ethernet socket and VGA out so you can plug it in to a monitor so you can see what you are doing in the office. There is also a hard button for wireless connectivity so you can easily turn Wi-Fi on and off.

Inside and compared to the Eee's specs the HP 2133 Mini-Note will run around it in circles. Sporting a 1.2GHz Via C7-M ULV processor this isn't the fastest machine on the block but certainly enough to do remote working, checking emails, writing documents and surfing the web. Strangely you won't be able to get the 1.6GHz version as offered in the US.

Memory is upgradable to 2048MB and the system we had shipped with 1790MB of DDR2, 667MHz, although the standard configuration is 1GB.

The biggest difference to the Eee is the hard drive. A whopping 120GB model compared to the Asus 900 Windows XP 12GB model means this is a fully-fledged laptop for storing media on the go and means you won't be having to worry about storage issues. It also means you can effectively store movies on the HP 2133 Mini-Note and negates the need for a DVD drive even further.

The system comes with either Linux or Windows Vista Business operating systems depending on what you need and the price varies accordingly. Rather than follow Asus' model and offer the same price point but with varying hardware specs. HP will simply charge you an £85 premium for Vista bringing the HP 2133 mini-note up to a non-budget £385.

A check on the performance of Vista and it comes back with a base score of 1.7 out of a possible 5.9.

According to Microsoft, "a computer with a base score of 1.0 or 2.0 usually has sufficient performance to do most general computing tasks, such as run office productivity applications and search the Internet. However, a computer with this base score is generally not powerful enough to run Windows Aero, or the advanced multimedia experiences that are available with Windows Vista".

Battery life again depends on what you are doing, however without a CD/DVD drive to burn through it, it's considerably longer than you might expect. There are two battery options for the mini-note, a three- or six-cell option. We had a unit with the six-cell battery and this is large enough to raise the laptop at an angle. Aside from giving us around 4 hours of charge it also makes the keyboard slightly easier to use. Although it has to be noted it means the design isn't flush on the backside of the laptop.

Verdict

Compared to the Asus Eee, this will offer plenty more oomph for your cash and for those looking for a mini laptop that sports Windows Vista, a better option.

However at almost £400 it starts competing more with the Sony Viao's of this world rather than the £212 price tag of the entry-level Eee.

While the HP 2133 Mini-Note is a solid performer, we found its tiny trackpad awkward and the glossy screen hard to use on the go.

Luckily at least one can be fixed by packing a mouse and the other is saved by a zippy performance, that almost full QWERTY keyboard, 120GB hard drive and solid build.