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HP MiniNote 2133 Review

Well Christmas has come and gone already, and with Christmas typically come a whole slew of all new gadgets, myself being included in this list.  So varying off of the average topic of cell phones and accessories, I’ve gone with another sort of mobility, the HP MiniNote 2133.


For those of you who aren’t familiar, the HP MiniNote is a small formfactor netbook, like the ASUS EeePC.  But unlike the EeePC, this thing packs a punch, in a big way.


The unit I received had a 1.2Ghz Via C7-M processor, a gig of RAM, a 120GB hard drive, and SuSE Linux Enterprise Desktop.  I wasn’t too keen to running Vista on a lightweight system like this.


More on my HP MiniNote 2133 Review after the break!

First thing that’s nice about the HP, once you get it out, you’ll notice, its solid aluminum.  No flimsy plastic or otherwise, this thing has a hardcore aluminum shell.  Plus it also has a 3 dimensional accelerometer that’s able to detect high accelerations and “park” the hard drive in order to help prevent damage, should the unit be dropped (its a pretty common feature in high-end business-class notebooks).


Second, once you open the unit and turn it on, you’ll be amazed at the sharpness of the screen.  Sure it’s only 8.9 inches, but even at its high resolution, I’m able to adequately read text without hardly any effort.  Another thing is where did HP get speakers that nice on a system that small?  The unbranded speakers on the MiniNote outdo the Altec Lansing speakers on my big laptop.  I haven’t done horribly thorough testing but I consider myself rather particular about audio and I was pleasantly surprised when the system booted.


Third, the keyboard.  The keyboard is a lot more snappy and responsive than a lot I’ve used.  It’s great to work with.  Plus it’s only slightly smaller than a full sized keyboard as well, its certainly not difficult to punch out the exact key that you need on the MiniNote.  Plus it has a full sized right shift key, something very important for me since that’s the only shift key I use (my big laptop has a shift key the size of a normal key, a source of unending annoyance for me).


Now onto features.  Yes!  This thing somehow manages to pack in an A/B/G wireless card (albeit its a Broadcom BCM4312, ick), a webcam, VGA Port, headphone/microphone jacks, 2 USB ports, a Kingston Laptop Lock port, A GIGABIT ETHERNET PORT, an SD card slot, and an ExpressCard (PCIMCIAe) port.  That’s a lot in such a small package.


As for the OS, I’m a bit disappointed.  This is more Novell’s problem than HP’s, but I found SuSE Linux Enterprise Desktop to sport a bunch of old software (Firefox, GAIM, etc) and didn’t have any updates in the package manager to apply whenever I unpacked the unit (that’s scary in the open source world).  I may end up hitting this guy up with Ubuntu Linux or PC-BSD at some point.  Keep in mind that the MiniNote does not have a CD drive so you’ll either be using an external or a USB thumb drive.  Note however that there’s no included restore media…


The battery life is my only other thing.  I know its only a 3 cell and the ~2 hour battery life is great for a 3 cell on an x86 machine, but some things make me wonder why they didn’t give a little bit more capacity on the battery, or at least not charge $120 for the 6-cell battery (that’s 1/3 of what the whole unit cost at the time).  However in their defense, they did give you a full-blown laptop charger instead of the wimpy cell phone charger included with the EeePC, so you can get a full charge from 0% in about 1-2 hours.


The final thing is how amazingly quiet this thing is.  It has a built in fan and a platter style hard drive, but I can’t hear either of them when they’re spun up, even in noise devoid rooms.  In order to hear them you literally have to press your ear up against the bottom of the unit.


My complaints aside (which are very minor), I’m extremely impressed with the MiniNote.  I think it will make a great addition to my rather limited collection of devices that are used very heavily (most of them sit on the shelf).  The MiniNote breaks the trend of cheap/incapable Netbooks by packing a unit loaded with features and construction that makes you not only confident to use it, but also looks more professional (and thus makes you look more professional when you pull it out to do a presentation), not like some child’s toy that only college kids use like other Netbooks.  If you’re a mobile professional or just someone who wants a portable powerhouse to do your bidding, the HP MiniNote 2133 is you

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