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HP Mini 210 HD review: HP Mini 210 HD

HP Mini 210 HD

Dan Ackerman Editorial Director / Computers and Gaming
Dan Ackerman leads CNET's coverage of computers and gaming hardware. A New York native and former radio DJ, he's also a regular TV talking head and the author of "The Tetris Effect" (Hachette/PublicAffairs), a non-fiction gaming and business history book that has earned rave reviews from the New York Times, Fortune, LA Review of Books, and many other publications. "Upends the standard Silicon Valley, Steve Jobs/Mark Zuckerberg technology-creation myth... the story shines." -- The New York Times
Expertise I've been testing and reviewing computer and gaming hardware for over 20 years, covering every console launch since the Dreamcast and every MacBook...ever. Credentials
  • Author of the award-winning, NY Times-reviewed nonfiction book The Tetris Effect; Longtime consumer technology expert for CBS Mornings
Dan Ackerman
6 min read

We've always been more partial to the Netbooks put out by HP's business side (such as the Mini 5102), but budget-conscious buyers can get largely similar systems from HP's consumer side with lower starting prices. The consumer lineup, previously anchored by the Mini 110, has gotten a modest makeover in 2010, morphing into the Mini 210.


HP Mini 210 HD

The Good

HD video playback; many configuration options; low starting price; great touch pad.

The Bad

Beta software needed to stream HD video.

The Bottom Line

The versatile HP Mini 210 adds best-of features from other HP laptops, but the HD video card requires a still-in-beta Flash update for streaming Flash video.

New to this version are Intel's latest Atom N450 CPU and optional lid colors. 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. There's also an option for the Broadcom Crystal HD video accelerator, which allows HD video playback (but is more of a mixed bag for streaming online HD video).

With its excellent keyboard and touch pad, the Mini 210 is one of the nicer-looking overall Netbook packages available. The base $299 version includes the same hardware you'd find on competing $299 Netbooks from Dell, Acer, or Asus (so it's largely a matter of personal aesthetic preference), and this $384 configuration includes the HD video accelerator and a higher-definition 1,366x768-pixel display, making it a good deal.

The outside of the Mini 210's chassis looks very similar to previous HP Netbooks, such as the Mini 110. HP's design aesthetic for these systems relies on rounded corners, gently curved lid edges, long central screen hinges, and a long, narrow body. Our main complaint is that the "silver crystal" lid color on our review unit looked especially plain. Red, blue, or black options cost an extra $20.

The island-style (some say "chicklet") keyboard has been adopted from the more business-like HP Mini 5101 and 5102 models, and provides for large, flat keys that are widely spaced for easy typing. The keyboard has good-size Shift, Tab, and other important keys, which is crucial for a small Netbook. HP also wisely continues its trend of making the Function keys actually functional; the typical alternate tasks (such as volume and brightness controls) have become the F1-F12 keys' primary function, and the old F-key uses require you to hold down the Fn key (in other words, a role reversal for the Function keys).

We're also fond of the new touch-pad design, which borrows from HP's recent Envy line of laptops. The mouse buttons are built right into the lower left and right corners of the pad, and the entire pad depresses with each click--much as you'd find on a current MacBook. The real win here is actually that the older HP Netbook touch pad, with its wide-but-short surface and side-mounted mouse buttons, is no more (it's actually been relegated to an entry-level Compaq Netbook).

The 10.1-inch wide-screen display offers a 1,366x768-pixel native resolution, which is becoming more common over traditional 1,024x768-pixel versions. The higher resolution makes sense if you're going to using the built-in HD video processing hardware to watch HD video, and we just generally like having a little more pixel real estate on the screen. We also like the slick look of the edge-to-edge glass over the entire display, even if it makes the surface even glossier and more reflective than usual.

Our Mini 210 came well-equipped, although 802.11n Wi-Fi really should be standard at this point. The HP Web site offers a decent amount of configuration options; you can choose Win 7 Starter or XP, a larger 250GB 7,200rpm hard drive, and the Broadcom Crystal HD video chip is a $35 option. Locked in, however, are the Intel Atom N450 CPU and 1GB of RAM.

As one might expect, the performance of this Intel Atom Netbook was largely in line with similarly configured systems. Even with a slight edge in some tests to Netbooks that are not also powering HD video chips, the real-world difference would be negligible. Our usual Netbook admonitions apply: they're fine for e-mail, Web surfing, and other basic tasks, but certainly not powerful enough to be your main or only PC.

As for the HD video acceleration, full-screen 720p and 1080p video playback was great, just as we saw in the Dell Mini 10. However, playing HD streaming Flash video via YouTube and Hulu requires you to track down and install the new Flash 10.1 beta 3 player (make sure you have the latest Broadcom drivers, as well).

After this upgrade (remembering to uninstall the current Flash player first), both 480p Hulu and 720p YouTube videos had smoother playback and were more watchable, but there was still some stutter and frame-skipping, and it seemed to vary from source to source. You can see a before-and-after comparison in this video.

Juice box
HP Mini 210 Average watts per hour
Off (60%) 0.45
Sleep (10%) 0.69
Idle (25%) 7.62
Load (05%) 15.34
Raw kWh Number 26.38
Annual Energy Cost $2.99

Annual power consumption cost

The Mini 210 ran for 4 hours and 34 minutes in our video playback battery drain test, using the included six-cell battery. That's fine for a last-gen Netbook, but current models, without the HD video hardware, can top 7 hours easily--the video chip must really put some extra strain on the battery.

The system includes a one-year parts and labor warranty from HP. Support for HP laptops is accessible 24-7 through a toll-free phone line, as well as HP's Web site, which has an extensive online knowledge base and driver downloads.

Jalbum photo conversion test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)

Multimedia multitasking test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)

Apple iTunes encoding test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)

Video playback battery drain test (in minutes)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)

Find out more about how we test laptops.

System configurations:

HP Mini 210
Windows 7 Starter; 1.66GHz Intel Atom N450; 1024MB DDR2 SDRAM 800MHz; 250MB (Shared) Intel GMA 3150; 160GB Toshiba 5,400rpm Dell Insprion Mini 10 (HD)
Windows 7 Starter, 1.66GHz Intel Atom N450, 1024MB DDR2 SDRAM 800MHz, 250MB (Shared) Intel GMA 3150, 160GB Western Digital 5,400rpm

Asus Eee PC 1005PE
Windows 7 Starter; 1.66GHz Intel Atom N450; 1024MB DDR2 SDRAM 800MHz; 251MB (Shared) Intel GMA 3150; 250GB Seagate 5,400rpm

HP Mini 5102
Windows 7 Starter; 1.66GHz Intel Atom N450; 1024MB DDR2 SDRAM 800MHz; 248MB (Shared) Intel GMA 3150; 160GB Seagate 7,200rpm

Toshiba Mini NB305-N410BN
Windows 7 Starter; 1.66GHz Intel Atom N450; 1024MB DDR2 SDRAM 800MHz; 250MB (Shared) Intel GMA 3150; 250GB Hitachi 5,400rpm


HP Mini 210 HD

Score Breakdown

Design 8Features 9Performance 7Battery 7Support 7