When ASUS launched its Eee
PC 401 4G last year, not many people knew where the tiny $399 device would
take the industry. Within months, ASUS flanked its original 4G model with the $299
2G model and the $499
As sales skyrocketed, ASUS dropped another bombshell on
potential customers with the announcement
of its second generation Eee
PC 900 with a larger, 8.9" display which calmed the fears of some of
those upset over the original unit’s 7" display. ASUS' efforts to carve
out a niche in the low-cost PC market along with a number
arriving fashionably late to the party even enticed Microsoft to extend
the availability of Windows XP Home by another two years.
Not one to be left out in the cold by a growing trend in the
PC market, HP no doubt eyed the original ASUS Eee PC and decided to make a
machine to outpace it -- that machine is the HP 2133 Mini-Note PC. We first
heard about the 8.9" 2133 Mini-Note back in February when Engadget leaked a couple of rendered images of
the device, but today HP is fully
prepared with a press release on the device.
Unlike the Eee PC which is currently only available with a
solid-state drive (SSD), the 2133 Mini-Note is available with a variety of
storage options (2.5" form factor) and can be configured to your liking.
The $499 model will get you a 1.0GHz VIA C7-M processor, 512MB of RAM and a 4GB
SSD running Novell Suse Linux. $549 will get you a 1.2GHz VIA processor, 1GB of
RAM, and a 5400 RPM 120GB HDD -- an extra $50 entitles you to Windows Vista
Finally, the top-of-the-line model rings in at $749 and
throws in everything but the kitchen sink. Whereas the previous three models
incorporate a 3-cell battery, the range-topping model sports a 6-cell battery
for extended mobile duties. The device also sports a 1.6GHz VIA processor, 2GB
of RAM, 5400 RPM 120GB HDD, Bluetooth, webcam, and Windows Vista Business. All
machines are equipped with two USB 2.0 ports, SDHC slot, an ExpressCard/54 slot, VGA port
and GbE. HP also makes 7200 RPM 120GB and 160GB HDDs available as an option.
Moving on to the exterior, the 2133 Mini-Note is dominated
by its 8.9", 1280x768 display. The resolution on the notebook far outpaces
the original Eee PC's 7", 800x480 display and even betters the new Eee PC
900's 8.9", 1024x600 display. The display is of the glossy variety which
means that colors should be rich and vibrant; however, you'll have to deal with
Unlike the Eee PC with its mostly plastic construction, the
2133 Mini-Note goes further with a mixture of brushed aluminum and plastic to
give it a more expensive look and feel. HP also thankfully gave its latest
notebook a 92% full-size keyboard which should be leagues better than the
cramped keyboard on the Eee PC 401/Eee PC 900.
The HP 2133 Mini-Note isn't exactly a featherweight, but its
mass is quite reasonable given its size and price range -- especially when
compared to other ultra-portables like the MacBook Air which are more than
twice the price of even the most expensive model. The 2133 Mini-Note weighs in
at 2.63-pounds in its base configuration with a 3-cell battery -- that figure
swells to 2.86-pounds with a 3-cell battery and a 160GB HDD and 3.23-pounds
with a 6-cell battery and 160GB HDD.
Up to this point, the HP 2133 Mini-Note looks to be a great
machine on paper, but here comes the caveat: the VIA C-7M processor. Notebook Review was able to sample the
$749 model with its 1.6GHz VIA C7-M processor and 160GB HDD and was less than
impressed by its performance. Despite the high clock speed, the machine often bogged down with
surfing the web and struggled with multi-tasking -- an Eee PC 4G clocked at
a mere 630MHz was able to outpace the machine in PCMark05. The slower models will fare even worse.
"On paper the 1.6GHz VIA C7-M processor should provide
excellent speed for general computing tasks," said Notebook Review's JerryJ. "In reality, web pages rendered
slower than expected, multi-tasking was painfully slow, and most
processor-hungry applications like Photoshop or video encoding software just
didn't like the VIA processor."
The VIA C7-M processor also ran very hot necessitating the
system fan to run most of the time. According to Notebook Review, the machine became uncomfortable to operate after
30-45 minutes due to the heat output which surpassed 110 degrees Fahrenheit on
various portions of the device.
Battery life scores varied from different reviewers around
the web. Notebook Review got around
two hours and fifteen minute with the 3-cell battery and four hours and eleven
minutes from the 6-cell battery. Notebooks.com
got just under four and a half hours with the 6-cell battery.
The HP 2133 Mini-Note looks to be a worthy entry into the
burgeoning field of relatively inexpensive ultra-notebooks. The notebook gives
other ultra-portables like the MacBook
Air and Lenovo
ThinkPad X300 a run for the money with features while offering a nearly
full-size keyboard and an affordable price tag.
The machine, however, appears to be hampered by its VIA
processor and excess heat. One wonders why HP didn't go with Intel's
Atom processors which promise better performance and low thermals, but it
could possibly be an option in the future.