We've always been more partial to the Netbooks put out by HP's business side, but budget-conscious buyers can get largely similar systems from HP's consumer side, with lower starting prices.
The line, anchored by the Mini 110 is getting a modest makeover, morphing into the Mini 210. New to this model are optional colors, including Black Crystal, Silver Crystal, Pacific Blue, and Sonoma Red. Most importantly, the awkward side-anchored mouse buttons have been moved to a more traditional spot below the touch pad, fixing one of the major annoyances of the Mini 110.
These 10.1-inch systems will include the new Intel Atom N450 CPU, along with a redesigned island-style keyboard. Starting at only $299, which is what we like to see from basic Netbooks, you can trade up to more RAM, a bigger hard drive, or an optional HD video accelerator, but no Nvidia Ion (for that, you'll need to get the 11-inch HP Mini 311).
There's also an even more basic Netbook on the way from HP, and that's the Compaq Mini 102. It actually looks and feels a lot like a rebranded HP Mini 110, and keeps the same wide, flat-topped keyboard, mouse buttons pushed to the side of the touch pad, and an older Intel Atom N270 CPU. Though the Compaq name may have not have the best traction with consumers, we expect this to be a decent last-gen Netbook offered at a bargain price.
The HP Mini 210 will be available starting January 7, and we expect similar availability for the Compaq Mini 102.