After the initial 7-inch Celeron versions and the second wave of 9- and 10-inch Intel Atom-powered systems, we're finally seeing the third wave of Netbook laptops--machines that take the basic concept of low-cost, low-power computing and start to add in useful extras and features largely missing from the until-now rather Spartan design philosophy of most Netbooks.
Even though the Mini 1000only hit a few months ago, HP was actually an early player in the Netbook field. The company's business system side came up with the Mini-Note 2133 in spring 2008, with a solid brushed-metal chassis and a nearly full-size keyboard. Unfortunately, this predated Intel's Atom CPU, and rather than using the Celeron processor that came with the very first Netbooks, HP went with an underpowered Via C7-M, which pretty much killed any chance it had of becoming a mainstream product.
Now that the plastic-clad, Atom-powered consumer version has become a hit, HP's business side is taking another crack at the Netbook market with a radically updated version, called the HP Mini 2140.
It keeps the aluminum construction and big keyboard, but updates the components to an Intel Atom CPU, and hard-drive options that include standard platter drives up to 160GB and solid-state drives up to 80GB. The LED display is 10.1 inches, with a 16:9 aspect ratio.
Two new additions that threaten to make this our favorite new Netbook are an accelerometer for the hard drive and a full ExpressCard/54 slot--a Netbook first (Lenovo's S10 has a smaller Express Card/34 slot). We recently told HP's consumer side that, as much as we liked the Mini 1000 Netbook, its business-side colleagues had just decisively leap-frogged them.
Look for the HP Mini 2140 later in January, starting at $499. More pics after the jump.