Another area where the Mini 700 splits from the norm among netbooks is its connectivity, though this is largely due to what it doesn’t have than what it adds. You only get two USB ports, rather than the usual three, while the VGA port has been replaced with a proprietary output that requires a separately sold adapter.
There’s also only a single audio port that doubles as both the microphone input and headphone output. Most of these concessions, it would appear, have been made to help maintain the machine’s slim physique and while this probably won’t bother many regular users, like the small hard drive, others are bound to disagree.
HP has also taken the common move of using a relatively low capacity three-cell, 26Watt-hour battery. It’s unusually integrated, too, with the slim battery slice being housed directly underneath the machine, not at the back. Despite this HP does make and sell, in the US at least, a six-cell battery for the Mini 1000 (essentially the same machine), so you can upgrade, but we’ve yet to see any on sale in the UK.
As for the supplied three-cell battery, it produces predictably mediocre results. Playing back a video at 50 per cent brightness with all wireless radios turned off returned two and a half hours of use; a figure that’s bound to decrease if browsing the Internet regularly. Of course, if you’re not using the Internet, you could probably squeeze out three hours – enough for most train commutes – but with the six-cell battery equipped Samsung NC10 costing around the same it’s hard to argue in favour of this HP.
This pretty much sums up the Mini 700’s problem, really. While we’d dearly love to fall head over heels for it, the excellent design and class leading keyboard (as well as the excellent build quality) come at the cost of a few too many practicalities. It will serve less demanding users very well, but then so would other netbooks costing £50 or so less, while more fully featured and considered efforts like the Samsung NC10, or the Asus Eee PC 1000HE if you need the ultimate in battery life, make a more persuasive case above the £300 mark.
This doesn’t make the HP Compaq Mini 700 a bad netbook, but you’ll have to accept its limitations before you can enjoy its other enviable qualities.
An attractive netbook with an outstanding keyboard, the HP Compaq Mini 700 is only let down by compromises that aren’t present in similarly priced and better featured competitors. It is fine for casual use, but more demanding users will find it a little half-baked.