Editors' note: This review is part of our 2010 retail laptop and desktop back-to-school roundup, covering specific fixed configurations of popular systems that can be found in retail stores.
While it's one of the cooler-looking Netbooks you're likely to find on retail store shelves, the HP Mini 210-1199DX has only a handful of component upgrades over a baseline entry-level Netbook, making its $379 asking price a bit of a stretch.
For the extra $80 cost over the least expensive current comparable systems, you get a faster, but not necessarily larger, 7,200rpm hard drive, 802.11n Wi-Fi, the N455 version of Intel's Atom CPU--which is nearly identical to the N450 version, except that it supports DDR3 RAM, and the pink tartan pattern that covers the back of the lid and the touch pad. While the design makes this a bit of a step up for Netbook shoppers, if you're more interested in price than looks, there are better deals available.
HP's current Netbooks offer about the best keyboard/touch pad combo we've seen and they are among the best available for mid-to-long-term typing.
|Price as reviewed||$379|
|Processor||1.66GHz Intel Atom N455|
|Memory||1GB, 667MHz DDR2|
|Hard drive||250GB 7,200rpm|
|Graphics||Intel GMA 3150 (integrated)|
|Operating System||Windows 7 Starter|
|Dimensions (WD)||10.6x6.9 inches|
|Screen size (diagonal)||10.1 inches|
|System weight / Weight with AC adapter||3.0/3.5 pounds|
The most striking aspect of this version of HP's Mini 210 is its distinctive pink design. HP decorates the back of the lid with a pink-and-white tartan pattern that it carries over to the touch pad and bottom panel, while the actual keyboard and keyboard tray are solid pink. We saw a similar concept in last year's Tord Boontje edition of the HP Mini 110. That system also had a high-concept design, but like this pink Mini 210, it charged just a bit too much for the snazzy looks.
One area of Netbook design that HP seems to be leading in at the moment is the keyboard and touch pad. HP's current island-style keyboard has flat, widely spaced keys that are easy to use, and smartly includes full-size Shift keys. The only keys that get the short end of the stick are the arrow keys, as the up and down arrows are very undersized. We also like that the row of Function keys at the top is reversed--meaning their alternate functions (such as speaker muting or screen brightness) are the primary use, while accessing traditional F5, F9, and so on commands requires holding down the Fn key at the same time.
The HP's touch pad is about the biggest we've seen on a 10-inch Netbook (Toshiba's NB series may come close), and it closely emulates the expanded touch pad found on HP's high-end Envy series. That means there are no distinct left and right mouse buttons--instead the mouse buttons are built into the corners of an oversized touch pad, which is similar to what Apple does on the MacBook laptops. It's a lot easier to use than the typical tiny Netbook touch pad, but the handful of multitouch gestures it supports, including a two-finger scroll, are too finicky to be useful.
HP preloads the desktop with a few too many advertising and promotional links, including plugs for Barnes & Noble, eBay, an HP download store, and Best Buy's Geek Squad service. HP also preinstalls a chunky HP toolbar on the Netbook's Web browser, which is especially annoying on a system with only 600 pixels of vertical resolution.
Its display has a 1,024x600-pixel native resolution that is standard for 10-inch Netbooks, although some higher-end premium Netbooks have better 1,366x768-pixel resolution displays. With this Mini 210's mod design, one of these higher-resolution displays would not have been unwelcome. On the positive side, this model has edge-to-edge glass over the display, giving it a slick high-end look.
|HP 210-1199DX||Average for category [netbook]|
|Audio||Single headphone/microphone jack||Stereo speakers, headphone/microphone jacks|
|Data||3 USB 2.0, SD card reader||3 USB 2.0, SD card reader|
|Networking||Ethernet, 802.11n Wi-Fi||Ethernet, 802.11n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth|
The ports and connections on this HP Mini 210 are similar to what we'd find on most Netbooks, although it follows the HP trend of replacing the mic/headphone jacks with a single shared audio connection. The Mini 210's power button can be a bit hard to find as it's a slider switch that HP nestles between the SD card slot and the USB ports on the right edge.
The Mini 210's 7,200rpm hard drive runs faster most Netbooks or even midsize laptops, which use 5,400rpm drives. However, its speed did not help it perform better in our benchmark tests compared with the other Netbooks in our retail roundup, all of which have Intel's N450 Atom processor, 1GB of RAM, and Windows 7 Starter Edition. The Mini 210's performance was comparable to pretty much any similarly configured Netbook from 2010, which means it's fine for basic Web surfing and e-mail, and even light multimedia playback, but if you get too ambitious, you'll be staring at the spinning Windows wait icon most of the time.