The general feel of HP's 2133 Mini-note is by far the most satisfying thing about the entire sub-notebook because, to put it simply, the HP Mininote feels like all sub-notebooks should
Yes, Mr. Asus Eee PC, I'm looking pointedly at you and your tiny keyboarded brethren here.
The keys on the 2133 Mini-note are, without exaggeration, utterly fantastic and feel absolutely joyous to use. At the time of writing I've been away from my desk and typing this entire review on the Mini-note in order to get a fuller appreciation for the design and its intricacies. I've yet to hit a wrong key – not that you should take that as an excuse to comb this article for spelling mistakes. (and there were a fair few of those - Ed.
The keys are all perfectly spaced and sized, all of them level and making the most of the space they have available. HP claims this is a 92 percent scale of a standard keyboard and we believe it.
Each key presses without wobble and without clacking noisily – as notebook keyboards go, this is one of the best we've seen yet, probably only second to IBM's awesomely clicky keyboards. The fact that it's on a netbook chassis and remains usable despite the small size is great and means you can type at basically full speed without error.
Unfortunately, it is downhill from there and the trackpad just isn't quite as good. It uses an odd design where the buttons are shifted to the side of the touch-sensitive area, which frees up space and means HP can cut a centimetre or two off the chassis' length. The problem with that is that using the touchpad effectively becomes a two-handed affair, which can be a little uncomfortable after a bit of time. The touchpad itself is also a little lacking in terms of sensitivity and we found that the pad was often unresponsive. If you want to get any movement out of that cursor you'll have to be sure to use the pad of your finger, not the tip. And press firmly
The screen though is good; clear and crisp, if a bit too glossy, and pivots back on hinges similar to those on the Macbook Pro. Does this make the build any stronger? Does it shave a few grams off the total weight? In answer to those questions; we've no idea. But the gap left above the keyboard when the laptop is unfolded is perfect for storing a pen or USB stick in. That’s something we definitely like.
Weighing in at 1.27kg, the 2133 Mini-note isn't exactly the lightest biscuit in the tin – though to call it heavy would still be a gross overstatement. The HP 2133 is definitely the type of laptop you could carry around easily in a rucksack or satchel with no trouble at all. Be warned though that if you are wearing baggy skater jeans and do want to carry the Mini-note in your back pocket then you’d be best of wearing a strong, leather belt.
Unlike the Eee PC, which the 2133 inevitably draws comparisons to, this isn't the type of laptop you can easily carry in one hand, typing on it with your free hand. The 2133 is just a bit too heavy for that.
Elsewhere though, in the fine details and little tweaks, HP's capacity for designing solidly built notebooks shines through. The laptop comes with two USB ports – one on either side so the body your USB keys won't block access to other ports when you need them, as well as an Ethernet port. There's also a handy Kensington lock for those of you who'll be in and out of the city, plus a VGA port and the ubiquitous headphone and microphone jacks. Finally, there’s a 54mm ExpressCard and SD card slot, should you require one.
In terms of extra inputs the 2133 comes with a standard webcam in the top of the lid – nothing fancy, just literally something you'll fiddle with for ten minutes and then never use again. The webcam is flanked by dual microphones though, which is a nice addition if you do happen to be one of the three people in the world who'd ever want to video conference from a laptop.
One of the nice things about the netbook is what it offers in terms of wireless connectivity though – not only does the wireless card have an on/off hardware switch in the front of the case, but the Mini-note also comes with Bluetooth as standard.
Of course, that said, the little switches for the laptop and wireless power toggles are a tad on the fiddly side. They aren't so much buttons as spring loaded sliders like you'd see on the side of a Nintendo DS – but these are rounded and without decent grips. It’s not a big thing, just a minor annoyance that you require fingernails to turn this notebook on and off. It does mean though that you aren't accidentally going to hit the button and power off the system, losing all your work or ejecting yourself from that all important Counter-strike
clan match – not that you'd want to game on this thing anyway.
I mean, it runs Linux