HP2133 MiniNote Review (Updated)
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Posted: 09/06/2008 9:06 PM
Seeing as the APC competition has a 2133 up for grabs I thought I would try my luck at writing a review and see if I can win one for a family member. So here is a review I wrote up of my own HP2133 (can also be seen on my blog http://www.geekyhabitat.com)
**Note** I have just done a complete overhaul to fix my terrible grammar, so please feel free to have another look. If you want to see photos see the full version on my blog at http://www.geekyhabitat.com/2008/06/09/hp-2133-mininote-review/
I have long needed a smaller and lighter solution than my Dell D620 for the commute to work and university. I recently purchased the HP2133 MiniNote (over the Asus’ EEEPC or another Ultra Portable PCs) as it seemed like a well-rounded machine and has been heavily targeted towards the university education sector. The specific model I am reviewing is the KZ960PA, which comes with:
* 1GB of RAM
* 1.6gHz VIA C7 CPU
* 120GB SATA hard drive
* Internal Bluetooth
* Internal webcam
* A 3 cell battery
* 2 USB ports*
* Gigabit Ethernet*
* Broadcom wireless card*
* Express card slot*
* Internal SD card reader*
* VGA output*
* Microphone input and a headphone output*
*(default across all models)
Initial Set Up
The MiniNote comes pre-loaded with Microsoft Windows Vista Basic edition. Unfortunately, the performance while booting the MiniNote with Vista was less than acceptable as the initial boot took well over 30 minutes to complete the setup and subsequent reboots ran well into the multiple minute mark. For this reason, as well as personal preference, I downgraded the operating system to Microsoft Windows XP Professional edition.
At this time all the Australian models are only shipping with 1GB of RAM. Due to various factors I decided to increase this to 2GB. Upon contacting HP to find out the cost of their RAM upgrade I was shocked to find that it was in excess of $500AUD (which is only a few hundred less than the cost of the laptop itself). Instead I headed down to my local computer store, purchased some RAM for $59AUD and then installed it myself. This was extremely easy to do for those familiar with the inside of a desktop or laptop (see the link in the resources section for further details).
Keyboard and Mouse
The keyboard on the MiniNote is quite large at 92% of the standard full size laptop keyboard, and touch typing was fairly easy after a couple of days of use. To keep the same perspective as the widescreen LCD the touchpad is wider than on most laptops and while this took a little time to get used to, it was a welcome addition to the MiniNote.
My only gripe with the touchpad is that while using the manufacturer’s driver the top 10% of the touchpad becomes unresponsive to vertical movement which I found extremely frustrating. To get around this I chose not to install the manufacturer’s driver and have just stuck with the Windows XP default driver. Finally there is a small button just above the touchpad to disable it, if you are going to do a lot of note taking this can be VERY handy.
HP2133 MiniNote Review
On the left hand side of the MiniNote is the VGA output, a USB port and the microphone input and headphone output. On the right hand side you will find a Kensington hole for securing the laptop to a desk, the power input, a gigabit Ethernet port, one USB port, an Express Card slot and underneath that an SD Card Reader.
One point to note is that when an SD card is inserted it sticks out a few millimetres rather than sitting flush with the unit, so it is best not to store an SD card in the machine all the time. However considering the MiniNote has 120GB of hard disk storage, the need for additional permanent storage should not be an issue.
HP2133 MiniNote ReviewHP2133 MiniNote Review
The MiniNote has an 8.1 inch WXGA screen with a native resolution of 1280×768. I have found this can make things look somewhat small, though Windows XP and most applications have settings to increase the font and icon size to increase readability. The clarity of the screen is outstanding except when viewed in direct sunlight. The picture is sharp and crisp and makes for very easy viewing.
As the MiniNote has a larger screen resolution than the (original) EEEPC, websites can be viewed as they would be on any desktop rather than having to scroll left and right to see them which is a vast improvement.
I must point out that the internal graphics card does come with one major annoyance. By default if the MiniNote has 1GB of RAM the graphics card takes 128MB of shared memory under Microsoft Windows, once a 2GB stick of RAM is installed it takes a total of 256MB shared memory. For Windows XP this is overkill and causes less RAM to be available for other applications. At this time the BIOS does not allow for this default behaviour to be modified.
HP2133 MiniNote Review
Initially I experienced issues with watching video and listening to audio in Windows XP but am pleased to say I have since found that there are workarounds available (see links in the resources section). Once I had fixed these issues I tested the video playback using DivX to encode a full copy of one of my favourite DVDs Oceans 11. The total size of the encoded file was 1.5GB and with fullscreen playback, both audio and video were flawless.
Taking notes and running Microsoft Office 2007 was a breeze and I highly recommend Microsoft OneNote for all those students looking at the MiniNote. I attended several meetings and used Microsoft OneNote to take comprehensive minutes and Microsoft Word to write and edit documents. I could not find failings with the performance or usability for day-to-day office tasks.
Battery time is where I really feel that the MiniNote falls behind. With the standard 3 cell HP battery (some models come with a 6 cell battery as standard) the total running time is only 1 hour and 40 minutes when using wireless and with the screen brightness set to medium. I have found that this only *just* gets me through most meetings and would not provide sufficient power to get through a 2 hour lecture.
I have tried many tweaks to squeeze more time out of the MiniNote with little success. If the wireless is disabled along with all non-essential software and services, I can get a little over 2 hours out of the 3 cell battery. Although this is just enough for a lecture I would be happy to see HP release future versions that are more power-economical and last longer on a single charge.
At the time of writing, HP did not have many spare parts available for the MiniNote. This currently includes spare batteries so those looking to purchase a 6 cell spare battery will have to put that idea on hold for a month or two. No-one at HP sales or support seems to know when they will be coming out (and most of their support people know little about the MiniNote) and this is something to keep an eye out for if you are looking to get the MiniNote as soon as possible.
The MiniNote is composed of an aluminium case over a magnesium-alloy chassis, has a very solid build and seems to be very sturdy. This is a welcome change to the plastic feel of the EEEPC, though this does add to the weight of the MiniNote.
Finally the performance of the device for most situations was acceptable. Once Windows XP was installed the system booted quickly and applications loaded with minimal delay. The only time I noticed considerable performance degradation was when I attempted to multitask between Firefox, Thunderbird, OneNote and Microsoft Word so if you keep the open applications to a minimum you should be fine.
* Light and mobile
* Sleek look and sturdy design.
* Brilliant screen quality - clear, bright, and crisp 8.1 inch WXGA screen
* Gigabit Ethernet as a standard
* Inbuilt Wireless, Bluetooth and Webcam
* Near-full-size QWERTY keyboard (92% of full size)
* Excellent for office tasks when using Windows XP/Office 2007
* Excellent for Web Browsing
* Now has full driver support for Microsoft Windows XP, Microsoft Windows Vista
* Has an Express Card Slot, not available on many Ultra Portables
* Internal SD card reader
* Hard drive and RAM are user-upgradable (for those of you that are geeks and wish to do so)
* Good Audio and Video playback
* Battery time for the 3 cell is often less than 1 hour 45 minutes
* Internal Graphics Card takes up a LOT of additional shared memory (see above for details)
* Unit is slightly heavier than other Ultra Portables
* Manufacturer’s touchpad driver could use some tweaking
* Spare parts such as batteries are not *yet* available.
Overall I have to say that I am extremely happy with my HP 2133 MiniNote. If you are looking for something to use for taking notes, surfing the web, checking your email and other day-to-day office and study tasks the MiniNote is a brilliant buy. The only major downside that I could fault the machine on is the short battery time, however if you get a 6 cell model then this should become less of an issue.
I would highly recommend the MiniNote to university students for taking notes during lectures and tutorials as well to the business market for meetings. While the MiniNote is not primarily a multimedia machine, you could also use it for watching the occasional movie and listening to music. As a final note please feel free to post a comment here asking any questions and I will try to answer them as best as possible.
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Posted: 14/06/2008 4:06 PM
**Note** I have just done a complete overhaul to fix my terrible grammar and to add some photos, so please feel free to have another look. If you want to see photos see the full version on my blog at http://www.geekyhabitat.com/2008/06/09/hp-2133-mininote-review/
send to a friend