Editors' note: The HP Mini 2140 has been replaced by a new model, the HP Mini 5101. Read the review here.
Even though the HP Mini 1000 is only a few months old, Hewlett-Packard 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, the $499 HP Mini 2140.
It keeps the aluminum construction and big keyboard, but updates the components to an Intel Atom CPU, and adds 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).
Thanks to those added features--and some concerns about the added weight aside--the 2140 is currently our favorite Netbook less than $500.
|Price as reviewed / Starting price||$499|
|Processor||1.6GHz Intel Atom N270|
|Memory||1GB, 800MHz DDR2|
|Hard drive||160GB 5,400rpm|
|Chipset||Mobile Intel 945GSE|
|Graphics||Intel GMA 950 (integrated)|
|Operating system||Windows XP Home Edition SP2|
|Dimensions||10.3 inches wide by 6.5 inches deep|
|Screen size (diagonal)||10.1 inches|
|System weight / Weight with AC adapter||3.0/3.8 pounds|
The HP Mini 2140 shares the same basic silhouette as the earlier Mini 1000 and Mini-Note 2133 systems from HP. Because it has an aluminum case, like the 2133, it's a half-pound heavier than the plastic Mini 1000; it's a trade-off that may be worth it, however, as the metallic Mini 2140 feels as if it'll stand up to the rigors of the road better than a plastic Netbook.
The biggest selling point for HP's Netbooks has always been the fantastic keyboard, which HP claims is 92-percent of the size of a full-size laptop keyboard. Other Netbooks have been plagued by tiny Chiclet-like keys, which make typing a pain and typos plentiful. By expanding the keyboard right to the edges of the system, HP is able to fit bigger keys into the tray than other Netbooks (and even ultraportable laptops). The result is a comfortable typing experience that takes a tiny bit of adjustment (as the keys are very close together), but one that is, thus far, our favorite on a sub-12-inch notebook.
The touch pad has an unusual shape, stretched into a letterbox-like wide rectangle and the mouse buttons have been moved to the left and right sides of the touch pad. This permits the system to have a minimal amount of wasted wrist-rest space, but it's a somewhat awkward compromise, especially if you do a lot of vertical scrolling or right-clicking.
The 10.1-inch wide-screen LED display has an unusual 1,024x576 native resolution, which is a few pixels shy of the 1,024x600 we typically see in Netbooks. The end result is largely unnoticeable, but a Windows XP pop-up window expressed concern that we weren't running at a standard resolution.
|HP Mini 2140||Average for category [netbook]|
|Audio||headphone/microphone jacks, stereo speakers||headphone/microphone jacks, stereo speakers|
|Data||2 USB 2.0, SD card reader||2 USB 2.0, SD card reader|
|Networking||Ethernet, 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth||Ethernet, 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth|
Besides its big keyboard, the Mini 2140 has one major selling point that no other Netbook currently offers: a full ExpressCard/54 slot. Lenovo's S10 has a half-size ExpressCard/34 slot, but there are fewer options for add-on peripherals in that size. We rarely find that we actually need an ExpressCard slot for anything, but some rely on them for mobile broadband modems, memory-card readers, or even TV tuners.
HP offers a handful of fixed-configuration versions of the 2140, but we're perfectly happy with the basic $499 model, which has an Intel Atom CPU, 1GB of RAM, and a 160GB hard drive. For $50 more, a smart upgrade might be an identical version with 2GB of RAM, but that comes with Windows Vista Basic. Adding an XP "downgrade" to that model adds another $80 onto that (but also includes a faster 7,200rpm hard drive).