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A peek inside a new HP Netbook and ultrathin

The newest compact laptops from Hewlett-Packard strike an improved balance between performance and power efficiency.

Small laptops aren't necessarily getting any smaller, but they are getting more powerful. Here's a quick look at the power-efficient engines purring inside the latest laptops from Hewlett-Packard.

HP Mini 210: there's a lot going on below the colorful skin.
HP Mini 210: there's a lot going on below the colorful skin. Hewlett-Packard

The newest welterweight laptops from HP, introduced on Wednesday, offer more than flashy new skins. Inside is Intel's newest chip technology that offers more performance without a significant hit to battery life.

First up is the 3-pound Mini 210. This Netbook offers, for the first time, a dual-core Atom processor, a break from a long line of single-core-only Atom Netbook processors. Dual-core processors are better at handling multiple data streams than single-core processors and thus boost performance significantly for certain applications.

Despite having two cores, Intel's 1.5GHz Atom N550 has a thermal envelope of only 8.5 watts, only two more watts than its single-core N455 cousin. And this thermal envelope is even more impressive when you consider the fact that it also includes the 200MHz graphics chip, which is built onto the same piece of silicon as the main processor.

HP claims up to 10.75 hours of battery life with a six-cell battery. That said, even if HP is overstating battery life, anything within the ball park of eight to ten hours is decent for a Windows dual-core laptop.

The HP Mini 210 is available in the United States with a starting price of $329.

Pavilion dm3 squeezes Intel's higher-performance mobile processors into a slim form factor

The just-announced HP Pavilion dm3 laptop boasts an Intel Core i series chip matched with a new design that keeps the laptop cooler. A combination of "intelligent" software, advanced materials, and strategically placed vents minimize heat and channel it away from the bottom of the PC to prevent it from getting uncomfortably hot.

To date, cooling technology has focused on keeping the internal components from getting too hot but not the outside of the computer. Intel began discussing analogous technology back in 2008. "When you design a very thin system, cooling the skin is a very big challenge," said Intel's Mooly Eden at that time. Eden is an executive in Intel's PC client group.

And this kind of cooling technology is a boon for a thin design (the Pavilion dm3 is under 0.9 inches thick) that uses Intel's Core i3-330UM processor. The 1.2GHz 32-nanometer processor integrates a 45-nanometer graphics chip (with a maximum "dynamic frequency" of 500MHz) in the same package to achieve a respectable thermal envelope (CPU and GPU) of 18 watts--well below mainstream Intel processors.

HP claims up to 7.5 hours of battery life, though it's not clear if that applies to the Core i3-330UM or the optional Intel Pentium U5400 processor. Pricing for a configuration with a Core i3 chip starts in the low $700 range.