Thursday, June 11, 2009

HP Mini 1000

The Mini 1000's footprint is nearly identical to that of the earlier HP 2133 Mini-Note PC, measuring slightly wider and thinner. It's also a little lighter, thanks to the switch from aluminum to plastic. Netbooks are designed with price and portability in mind, so they're usually not the fanciest designs to come out of a PC maker's lab. While an aluminum chassis is generally preferred to one made from plastic, the switch to plastic here makes sense because every penny and ounce counts. Overall, we appreciate the Mini 1000's efficient and attractive layout--there's hardly any dead space on the keyboard tray.
The biggest selling point for the Mini 1000 is its 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 was able to fit bigger keys into the tray than other Netbooks (and even ultraportable laptops). The result is a comfortable typing experience that beats even Dell's Inspiron Mini 9.
The 10.2-inch wide-screen LCD display offers a 1,024x600-pixel native resolution, which is standard for Netbooks. It's certainly readable, but most documents and Web pages will require some scrolling. The display is covered by the same edge-to-edge glass we saw in Apple's new MacBooks, which adds to the aesthetic, but is also a glare magnet.
The Mini 1000 has fewer ports and connections than many other Netbooks, but the two USB ports should be enough for most users. The Dell Inspiron Mini 9, in comparison, has three USB ports, plus separate headphone and mic jacks, while the HP has only a single switchable audio jack. We wouldn't mind so much, but HP felt the need to include a proprietary recessed USB jack for use with the company's HP Mini Mobile Drive--basically an elongated USB memory stick. We'd rather the chassis space and hardware costs go into another USB port, a video output, or even a separate mic jack.
Intel's single-core 1.6GHz Atom CPU offers enough computing power for the basic tasks for which Netbooks are designed--namely Web surfing, working on documents, and some basic multimedia playback. That combo of Intel's Atom CPU, 1GB of RAM, and Windows XP (a Linux version of the Mini 1000 will be released in early 2009) is found in almost every current Netbook, so it's not surprising that we saw no real performance difference between the Mini 1000 and the Dell Inspiron Mini 9 or Lenovo IdeaPad S10. Any of these are fine for basic on-the-go computing, as long as you keep your expectations modest.