HP 2133 Mini-Note PC  (Source: Hewlett-Packard)
HP's Mini-Note to get much faster with a mid-cycle refresh.

When HP announced its swanky new 2133 Mini-Note PC a few days ago, many people were impressed with the design and features of the device. The Mini-Note makes use of an aluminum body, includes a nearly full-size keyboard, has a generous 8.9" 1280x768 display screen, and is available with Windows Vista Home Basic, Windows Vista Business or Novell Suse Linux.

The one peculiarity of the device that had people scratching their heads, however, was the decision to use VIA's old, slow C-7M processors. The Mini-Note is available with C-7M processors ranging in speed from 1.0GHz to 1.6GHz and even the fastest speed bin has trouble keeping up with lower-clocked Intel Mobile Celeron-M processors.

According to HP notebook product marketing manager Robert Baker, VIA offered HP just what it needed in a notebook processing platform. "VIA gave us that right mix of performance and price for the type of environment that this product is going into--content consumption," said Baker to Crave.

Baker also went on to add that timing played a big key in the decision to use VIA's C7-M rather than the new kid on the block: Intel's Atom. "The other key thing was we were designing for education. We had to bring the product to the market now. A slip of a month kills you," Baker added. Baker noted that the Mini-Note is aimed at educational purchases and timing was important, "so they [could] make decisions for purchases they'll roll out during the summer when they're doing the vast majority of their purchases."

Relief for performance concerns may come with a mid-cycle refresh though according to Baker. "There will be an interim refresh about six months in. If the Atom is the right processor, that's what we'll go with. We'll look at everything in the market at that time.”

HP will also consider VIA's mysterious Isaiah processor if it becomes available in time for the refreshed Mini-Note. Although performance numbers are hard to come by, UMPCPortal yesterday gained access to a few CrystalMark benchmarks of a 1.0GHz ultra-low voltage (ULV) Isaiah compared to a 1.2GHz C7-M. Arithmetic logic unit (ALU) and floating point unit (FPU) scores were 280% and 190% higher respectively for the Isaiah processor compared to the C7-M.

Whether HP chooses Intel's Atom or VIA's Isaiah processors for its mid-cycle update to the Mini-Note, it appears that customers will get a much better-performing platform that what will be available in the coming weeks.

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