Already, then, the Mini-Note PC is making an excellent account of itself. With a keyboard that knocks seven shades of something unpleasant out of the Eee PC’s effort it’s already on the right track and the sleek metallic design is class personified. And, when you take a look at the feature list, there’s plenty else to smile about.
For storage there’s a very capacious 5400rpm 120GB hard drive and as ever you’ll find both wired and wireless networking on-board. There’s even Bluetooth, too, while a webcam with dual microphones is another neat addition. Its 1GB worth of DDR RAM is also adequate given the usage, though if you opt for the significantly more expensive Vista version you get 2GB instead.
Connectivity is, of course, limited by the size of the chassis, but even here the Mini-Note comes out well. There are two USB ports, one of which is powered, along with a D-SUB (VGA) video output, headphone and microphone jacks and an Ethernet port rounding off the standard stuff. In addition there’s a 54mm ExpressCard slot and an SD card slot, and even a lock slot. Meanwhile, on the front, you’ll find a hardware wireless switch, so it’s easy to save battery when you’re not using the Internet.
For all these qualities, though, there are some predictable compromises to be found, beginning with the touchpad. That it’s fairly small isn’t a great surprise – it’s a small machine after all, but truth be told it isn’t the size that’s the problem; it’s the buttons. Why? Because they’ve been placed either side of, rather than below, the touchpad and though initially this may seem quite a smart move, it’s amazing how difficult it is to get used to.
Anyone who uses a laptop regularly will find themselves stabbing thin air from time to time and it takes a fair amount of practice to make your brain think ‘left’ or ‘right’ rather ‘down’. Still, it’s something you’re likely to get used to and given the choice between this and a less intuitively laid out keyboard, this is the better compromise.
We’re also not entirely convinced by the screen. Provided you’re indoors it’s no problem at all. In fact we’d go as far as to say it’s excellent given its sharp 1,280 x 768 resolution and decent 8.9in size. But HP has given it a ‘scratchproof’ glossy finish that makes using the Mini-Note PC in high-light outdoor conditions a real challenge.
Neither can it claim be a particularly cool or quiet machine. During use the fan runs without pause and though it doesn’t buzz like on the Asus U2E, it’s a little obtrusive. Likewise, the bottom of the machine gets very hot given the relatively low power requirements – a product no doubt of using a regular hard drive as opposed to a cool and quiet SSD. In any case, though, these issues aren’t catastrophic, they do put small dents in the Mini-note’s appeal.
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