There are a lot of Netbooks on the market that are so similar in terms of hardware and software that manufacturers have to find other ways to differentiate them--usually with aesthetics and design. Although Netbooks started out with custom Linux shells (such as the original Asus Eee PC), the vast majority now run Windows XP. HP bucks the trend by taking the popular Mini 1000 hardware and adding to it its own sleek, custom interface--called the Mobile Internet Experience--built on the Ubuntu Linux operating system and the Gnome desktop environment.
The HP Mini 1000 Mi (pronounced "me") Edition uses the same design as the popular Mini 1000, but it runs HP's Mobile Internet (Mi) software rather than Windows--a simplified interface that is much better than those found on other Linux Netbooks, such as the original Acer Aspire One and Asus Eee PC. The main feature of the interface is the convenience of HP's Home screen, which gives you access to e-mail, Web, music, photos, and a program launcher through multiple launch panels, rather than a traditional desktop. For an Internet appliance-style design, it's well done, but it will appeal to only a select audience. We suspect most will still want the flexibility and familiarity of Windows.
|Price as reviewed / Starting price||$424 / $279|
|Processor||1.6GHz Intel Atom N270|
|Memory||1GB, 533MHz DDR2|
|Hard drive||60GB 4,200rpm|
|Chipset||Mobile Intel 945GSE|
|Graphics||Intel GMA 950 (integrated)|
|Operating System||HP Mobile Internet software based Ubuntu Linux|
|Dimensions (WD)||10.3 inches wide by 6.6 inches deep|
|Screen size (diagonal)||10.2 inches|
|System weight / Weight with AC adapter||2.5/3.1 pounds|
The HP Mini 1000 Mi has a distinctive geometric pattern on its lid and the same large, comfortable keyboard as the XP version of the Mini 1000. While an aluminum chassis (as found on the similar HP Mini 2140) is generally preferable to one made from plastic, the construction of the Mini 1000 feels solid and durable (and the system is very slim).
The touch pad borrows from the nontraditional layout of the original Acer Aspire One and HP 2140, putting buttons on the left and right side rather than underneath. The XP version's Windows keys are replaced with dedicated HP Home and Task Switcher keys. Switching between running programs is accomplished by clicking on a switcher icon in the system tray, or pressing the dedicated Task Switcher button.
Pitched as a self-contained solution, the custom interface and included software are the most important parts of this version of the Mini 1000. The software is presented to users in a series of panels dedicated to things such as photos, Web, or e-mail, and you'll usually see three panels sitting side by side on the screen at once. We found the usual suspects of any Linux distribution: Open Office, Firefox, Thunderbird, Skype, Pidgin, and a few games. In general, all the applications work well, which is good, as adding new apps to one of these Linux-based nondesktop front-ends can be tough for casual users to figure out.
HP includes a program manager/installer application with links to pretested Linux software, which gives the company a degree of control over compatibility with HP's hardware, but it also makes it harder to install applications not on the preapproved list (you'll have to manually find and install those).
HP's MediaStyle, which is reminiscent of Windows Media Center and/or Apple Front Row, is a very basic media player. Video and music playback were consistent and simple enough. The speaker strip, which is built into the metal hinge, produced surprisingly loud sound when we played music from the main screen. With our model packing a 60GB (spinning) hard drive--SSD options up to 16GB are available--fitting in a movie or two, and a handful of songs didn't bog down the system at all.
For pictures, transfer rate, and the time it took for thumbnails to appear MediaStyle worked fine, but it hiccuped slightly when flipping through full-size views. Don't expect to find integration with online photo hosting or embedded editing software; rotating a photo is the most MediaStyle offers.
The 10.2-inch wide-screen LCD display offers a 1,024x600-pixel native resolution, which is acceptable for Netbooks. It's certainly readable, but most documents and Web pages will require some scrolling. The display is covered by edge-to-edge glass, which adds to the aesthetic, but is highly reflective.
|HP Mini 1000 Mi Edition||Average for category (Netbook)|
|Audio||Stereo speakers, single headphone/microphone jack||headphone/microphone jacks|
|Data||2 USB 2.0, SD card reader||2 USB 2.0, SD card reader|
|Networking||Ethernet, 802.11 b/g Wi-Fi, Bluetooth||modem, Ethernet, 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth|
On the left side, there is a power jack, USB 2.0, proprietary VGA connector, multipurpose audio jack (a single port that acts as both the headphone and mic jacks, depending on what you plug into it), and an Ethernet port (hidden underneath a rubber cover).
On the right side, there is an SD card slot, another USB port, and a proprietary HP Mini Mobile Drive slot, which is basically a recessed USB port into which only specially branded HP USB drives can fit. Frankly, we'd rather have another USB port, or even a separate mic jack.
Running a couple of new cross-platform benchmarks (as the Mini won't run apps such as Photoshop or iTunes), we pitted this system against the XP version of the Mini 1000. We noticed a bit of a performance trade-off between the two. The XP Mini won the first round: creating an online photo album using JAlbum, the XP Mini beat the Mini Mi by a mere 13 seconds. But, the Mini Mi won the second round: using Audacity to convert WAV files into MP3s, it beat the XP Mini by 47 seconds. Overall, we'd say there's no real performance advantage to be wrung out of the Intel Atom CPU.
On a three-cell battery, the HP Mini 1000 Mi ran for about 2 hours and 40 minutes on our video playback battery drain test, which was almost the same as the XP version of the system.
HP includes an industry-standard one-year parts-and-labor warranty with the system. Support is accessible through a 24-7 toll-free phone line, an online knowledge base, and driver downloads.
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HP Mini 1000
Windows XP Home Edition SP3; 1.6GHz Intel Atom N270; 1024MB DDR2 SDRAM 533MHz; 128MB Intel GMA950; 60GB Toshiba 4200rpm
HP Mini 1000 Mi Edition
HP Mobile internet (Mi) software built on Ubuntu Linux; 1.6GHz Intel Atom N270; 1024MB DDR2 SDRAM 533MHz; 128MB Intel GMA950; 60GB Toshiba 4200rpm