Having teased you earlier, it’s probably about time we talk about the one thing many people will be interested in: the keyboard. On the whole it has returned entirely unscathed. Its keys, which are 92 per cent full-size, are large and aren’t tapered, so there’s a large and flat surface area for you to hit. This helps reduce errors immeasurably and the basic layout is without peer. With the keyboard stretching right to the edges of the machine, there’s plenty of space for a large Enter key as well as a huge and unimpeded right-Shift key, while the cursor keys are effectively tucked away so cause no harm.
However, though the layout remains blissfully unchanged, the keys aren’t so. This isn’t a great cause for concern, though, since they remain crisp and positive, even if they lack the truly solid feel of those found on the 2133. If HP has cut costs a little, it has done so sparingly enough to not affect things too badly, making this probably the easiest netbook type on.
More shared design can be seen in the touchpad, though in this instance the likeness is less desirable since it means the touchpad buttons sit either side of the touchpad itself. This does take a little getting used to, as it did on the 2133, but there’s a larger issue here because we found the buttons impeded typing – particularly when sitting at a desk with your palms resting on the machine. This means you’re better off hovering above the keyboard and while this is largely preferable when using a small machine such as this, we’d sooner see HP design its way around the issue.
As for the touchpad itself it has a smooth, soft-touch finish that feels very luxurious; though it does have a propensity to pick up grease from your fingers, creating an ugly looking smear mark at its centre. It’s hardly a deal breaker, but if you’re sensitive to such eyesores then it’s worth bearing in mind.
Most of the above complaints are pretty trivial, but of more gravitas is the screen and its glossy finish. Fine, the frameless design is very attractive and it certainly gives the Mini 700 something other netbooks don’t have, but it’s arguably even more reflective than most other glossy displays. So much so, in fact, that in bright light it acts as a highly effective mirror. Great for picking spinach out of your teeth; not so helpful when trying to work or watch a video.
Married to this is a slight wateriness to the screen that we can only attribute to the glossy covering. It’s bright enough when turned up all the way, but colours are lacking and black levels are very washed out too. Ultimately, while it’s not dramatically worse than any other netbook display, we’d sooner see an anti-glare finish that’s more compatible with the machine’s mobile nature.
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