Netbooks have come a long way from the early, heady days of the ASUS Eee PC and whereas much was made at first about their ultra-portability and quick access to the Internet, nowadays more is expected on the power and performance side, even though they will never fully compete with lower end notebooks.
The HP Mini 210 series was introduced to upgrade the reasonably popular Mini 110 and although it still has a 10.1-inch LCD screen, the latest Mini 210-2000 model has seen significant improvements over both the Mini 110 and the first versions of the Mini 210 released earlier in the year.
The eye-catching, red, smoothly tapered, brushed metal cover will be an immediate attraction and the earlier Mini 210s that had a black keyboard and work surface have now been supplanted by a cool silver finish. The hinges are large and feel comfortably secure, containing within them the 6-cell Lithium-Ion battery which unfortunately bulges markedly outwards from the otherwise seamless flow of the design, yet provides nearly five and a half hours of action.
HP has wisely decided to make use of every square inch of operating surface by pushing the keyboard right to the extreme edges. Your fingers will glide swiftly but firmly across the large responsive chiclet style keys, although the curiously supersized right shift button has forced the up and down arrows to be unnaturally shrunk. The touchpad is smooth but scrolling feels stiff and the left and right mouse buttons at the bottom are all of a piece with the rest of the unit, meaning that the whole touchpad rocks as you use it.
On the plus side, specific keys for Wi-Fi, sound mute, caps lock and touchpad lock are backlit by beautifully understated white lights. Running round the outside you’ll discover no fewer than three USB ports together with VGA, Ethernet, headphone jack and a multi-card reader for Memory Stick, SD and MMC memory cards.
When it comes to the power under the hood, you’ll discover the Mini 110′s Intel Atom N280 CPU has been replaced by the more impressive Intel Atom N455 clocking at 1.66GHz with 1GB RAM, which when allied with the native Intel Graphics Media Accelerator 3150 graphics card allows a good degree of multitasking.
Previous complaints that first editions of the Mini 210 had no 802.11n wireless have now been silenced and there’s little in the way of stuttering when streaming HD videos on BBC iPlayer and YouTube. Hard drive space has been expanded to a handy 250GB and the native 1024 x 600 display resolution provides enough brightness to play the included HP mini-games comfortably even in strong daylight.
It’s also worth highlighting HP’s pre-installed QuickWeb technology which allows you to bypass Windows start-up and have swift access to the Net, e-mail, music and photos; ideal for Facebook users desperate to get back to Mafia Wars…
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