Product Type: Hewlett-Packard Netbook
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HP leaves middle of the road for the fast lane
HP 2133 Mini-Note
Member Name: icetsunami
HP 2133 Mini-Note
Date: 03/12/09, updated on 05/12/09 (75 review reads)
Advantages: Looks chic, excellent keyboard
Disadvantages: Mental placement of ram slot
When I think of innovative and quality examples of technology I don't automatically think of HP. I would be surprised if anybody actually considered HP to be able to push the boundaries of consumer electronics. Regardless, I recently had cause to purchase another netbook and after much deliberation looking at an Intel Atom powered Acer, opted for this HP 2133 powered by the inferior Via cpu. But why?
Well I saw this netbook in the shop window of the wonderful CEX and at £190 I thought it was a bargain. So what do we have?
Well the case is a lovely polished steel with a bold HP logo which is only correctly orientated when the lid is open. The left side of the case has a VGA out port, a USB port, microphone and earphones inputs. The front is discreet in housing a sliding power switch on the left and a sliding wi-fi switch on the right. The right side of the case has the power socket, ethernet port, a second USB port and an integrated card reader.
Opening the top reveals a gem of a secret. The keyboard is fantastic and close to a full sized set-up. Bizarrely the HP 2133 is not overly wide and furthermore the keys are larger than most making typing easy and pleasurable. The screen is a gem at just under 9 inches with a upper resolution of 1280*768 and a high gloss cover with a large black bezel around the edges which enhances the look.
Getting it home and having a good play was a top priority!Well, someone had seen fit to overwrite the Windows installation with the Linux distro Suse. Pleasingly this was a desktop themed set-up and not the icon driven interface I had previously used on my Asus eeePc. As a trade off however they had seen fit to install 2gb of ddr2 which was a welcome surprise.
Looking at the internal spec I saw the positive inclusion of a 120gb sata hard drive which although slower than flash based memory is considerably cheaper and pound for pound gives a much higher storage capacity. The Via processor is comparatively slow compared to Intel's energy efficient Atom but for web browsing, office work and media storage is more than adequate. Ethernet and Wlan are no brainers in even the lowest specced notebooks but the inclusion of Bluetooth and a card reader are good moves enabling interoperability with phones and cameras. The ubiquitous webcam allows for further media tomfoolery and everybody's favourite freebie Skype.
Well I have to say that I was extremely impressed at the quality of the casing and although it feels very solid it is not overly heavy. The keyboard as stated is sublime and the display is top notch. Aesthetically I was impressed from the start and can find no real faults.
No real faults?
Let's be a bit more picky in the interests of potential purchasers! The screen is excellent and there is no doubt about that fact. However the high gloss finish will present a problem in areas of bright ambient or direct sunlight. I wouldn't stand for fingerprints on the screen myself but it surely is going to be good at collecting them. The screen also has limited travel when going backwards due to the battery placement which is indiscreet to say the least. Due to it's bulk it tilts the keyboard forward slightly which will upset some no doubt but it is ergonomic for hands that tire due to that same elevation.
Connectivity is well catered for though I think that only two USB ports is a little tight. I mean, plug in an external drive and a mouse and where do you plug in up your bus powered office rocket launcher your colleagues love so much? Wi-fi is also good though doesn't cover the latest and therefore higher bandwith option.
Again the processor is a weak link but to be truthful unless you intend on video editing or running elaborate 3D interfaces then you will be just fine. Obviously any kind of gaming is out of the question save for some of the low spec browser based atrocities that are out there.
Now I believe this initially shipped with XP which is more or less obsolete now unless you are hyper conscious of security. That leaves you a wealth of Linux distros or Windows Vista or the new 7. I am planning to install Windows 7 32bit to see how it performs as it is apparently smoother and faster than Vista. In terms of Linux there are so many distributions, many of which have to been hacked for netbooks, it is a matter of personal choice. Certainly Linux is generally safer, faster and more 'hackable' than Windows.
Looks great and performs great though am having issues with wi-fi but this is due to the over complicated administration by Suse. No doubt this will fly when it gets settled and I have tweaked the settings in the browser. Small niggles with limited movement of screen but nothing to write home about and the touchpad is a bit unresponsive. Overall though I would say it is very good.
If you fancy any upgrades yourself be aware that access to the ram and hdd is through removal of the keyboard. A bit annoying when memory is usually concealed under a plate on the underside. If you do it yourself you may as well stick in a larger hdd at the same time.
Just to let you know I have installed Windows 7 32bit without problem. If you have Suse pre-installed simply connect an external optical drive, restart and hit F9 for boot options. The USB drive will be auto detected and then you simply press any key to start the Win 7 installation. You may need to delete some partitions but they are selectable from a short list.
Although I have 2 gb of ram installed it is worth noting that the integrated graphics chip, (which uses 256mb), is capable of running the Aero theme. All devices are automatically installed and work from the start. You may wish to update drivers for the VGA display and network connections manually but this is not required.
In terms of the WEI it is held down by the Via processor. Low scores of one are there to see though the hard disk manages 5. My upgraded ram managed 3.
During initial use I have noticed no particular problems and the netbook is responsive and efficient. I haven't turned down any visual effects yet though I may do so in the future to find an optimum level of performance.
This machine runs so much better on a Windows installation but I would advise you skip both XP and Vista for security and performance respectively. Overall an excellent little netbook!
Summary: As good as any other in the sub £400 market (single core)
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