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HP updates one of our favorite Netbooks with the Mini 5102

One of our favorite Netbooks of 2009 was the HP Mini 5101, now meet the new Mini 5102.

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One of our favorite Netbooks of 2009 was the HP Mini 5101. Part of HP's business line (as opposed to its consumer line), we liked the system's rugged metal construction and easy to use keyboard, along with its reasonable configuration options (although those have since been outshined by other Netbooks).

The Mini 5102 has a tweaked keyboard with widely spaced flat-topped keys and is also spill-resistant. Like many HP business systems, it includes HP's DriveGuard accelerator technology, which parks the hard-drive head when a fall is detected. The body, with a magnesium alloy base and anodized aluminum enclosure, feels like a much more road-worthy product than typical plastic Netbooks.

One interesting extra is an optional carrying handle, similar to ones we've seen on Netbooks aimed at the education market. It felt a bit too clunky to us, but perhaps if you're looking to go bag-free, it's worth a look.

It's still a 10-inch system, but both 1,024x600 and 1,366x768 displays will be offered. While there's no Nvidia Ion, HP does offer its optional HD video accelerator, as well as mobile broadband and Intel Atom N450 and N470 CPUs. It may be of interest to only a small subsection of buyers, but a capacitive multitouch display will also be offered.

Hard drives will run at a zippy 7,200 rpm, and come in 160, 250, and 320GB versions, as well as 80 and 120GB solid-state options.

While the $399 starting price sounds appealing, that only includes the Intel Atom N450, 1GB of RAM, Windows 7 Starter, a 160GB HDD, and a basic 1,024x600 display. Adding high-end extras can nearly double the system's price, but all models will include Corel Home Office (although we don't know why you wouldn't just use Open Office), and a pre-Windows quick-launch environment for access e-mail the and Internet.