Although the reflective screen, odd touchpad and slightly excessive heat and noise are negatives, they’re nothing compared to the disappointing overall performance. In fact, to call the Mini-Note’s performance ‘disappointing’ is a little disingenuous since it’s worse than that; it’s just downright poor.
Having rightly criticised the two and half to three hours managed by the Eee PC 900, the Mini-Note makes it look like a thoroughbred in this department. Using the Mini-Note at full brightness with wireless turned on resulted in a disappointing one and half hours, while even turning off wireless and cutting brightness in half only added a further 30 minutes of very light usage. Clearly the 3-cell battery supplied with this configuration isn’t up to the job and though you can get hold of a 6-cell battery, it adds extra weight and juts out from the bottom of the machine.
More concerning, however, is the general performance offered by the Mini-Note. Though a 1.2GHz VIA CPU might sound faster than a 900MHz Intel Celeron this isn’t the case at all. One can forgive a level of slowness when booting and launching programs, but there are definite limitations on what the Mini-Note can handle.
For example, you can watch YouTube and other flash-based video in windowed mode easily enough, but moving up to full screen results in jerky and unwatchable playback. More annoying, though, is this applies to any kind of video playback as well, so you can forget about watching downloaded video in full screen mode. Lest we not forget battery life either, since it’s nothing like good enough to make regular viewing a reality.
The Mini-Note isn’t anywhere near as user-friendly as the Eee PC, either. While both use Linux operating systems, the SUSE 10.1 OS used by the Mini-Note isn’t tailored in any particular way for inexperienced users, while documentation does little to enlighten. This will no doubt please more experienced users since it presents them with a ready to use machine with the flexibility they want, but anyone else will be left floundering in the dark. Moreover, it makes something of a mockery of HP’s stated ‘education’ target audience, since it seems hard to believe teachers or students weaned on Windows would find the change an easy one.
It would help, too, if the pre-installed software on offer were a little more exhaustive. Open Office 2.3 is on hand for productivity and it’s well suited to its task. Likewise there are plenty of useful utilities such as RSS feed readers, mail clients, music players and photo browsers. Yet, HP has neglected to pre-install any kind of AVI/DivX capable video player as standard, instead opting for RealPlayer 10 – does anyone seriously use RealPlayer anymore? Not by choice, that’s for certain.