Hands on with HP's Mini 2140 netbook

Hewlett-Packard unveiled its Mini 2140 netbook at the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas earlier this week, and it's cool.

Hewlett-Packard unveiled its Mini 2140 netbook at the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas earlier this week, and it's cool.

I had a chance to play with it at HP's booth, and its style is definitely impressive, thanks to the sleek aluminum casing, which is similar to the older 2133.

HP has also made a lot of other improvements on this netbook over its 2133 and Mini 1000, all of which it hopes business professionals will find enticing. The Mini 2140 will launch later this month.

Aside from the sleek silver casing, the Mini 2140 will have a 6-cell battery option, a first for HP and a key feature, in my opinion. Netbooks are made for mobility, and 3-cell batteries often give you just a few hours of life.

An HP representative at the booth said the 6-cell battery can run the Mini 2140 for about eight hours, but I didn't have time to test that claim. The 6-cell batteries on most netbooks last five or more hours, and time varies depending on the makeup of the machine.

For example, the Mini 2140 comes with either a 160GB HDD (hard disk drive) or an 80GB SSD (solid state drive). The SSD option will save a bit of power for a user.

Another bonus for the Mini 2140 is its OS options.

The Mini 2140 I tested was running Windows Vista Business, which performed fine on most of the easy applications I tried out, including Word and Internet Explorer, but still posted a poor boot-up time of 77 seconds.

Luckily, HP also offers Windows XP and XP Professional on the Mini 2140, as well as SUSE Linux.

The 10.1-inch screen on the Mini 2140 was nice, similar to other netbooks I've tried out, and the QWERTY keyboard, which is 92 percent of the size of a standard laptop PC keyboard, is among the most comfortable I've tested.

Price may again be a factor weighing against HP with the Mini 2140. Many of HP's early attempts at netbooks have been a bit expensive, in my opinion. However, with the 2140's aluminum casing, OS options and component options, it may end up being worth the money.

Prices for the device start at US$499 for a basic configuration including a 3-cell battery, and go up to about $700, the HP representative said.

One other consideration to take note of on the Mini 2140 is weight. The device I tested was heavy.

Although it is listed at 2.6 pounds (1.18 kilograms) for the basic system, the one I tested was far heavier than that. The 6-cell battery made a difference, and the HP representative said the one I was using probably weighed 3 pounds, but it seemed even heavier than that. The difference may be the aluminum casing, which offers durability and style but also more weight than the plastic normally used with netbooks.

The other main parts inside the Mini 2140 are the 1.6GHz Intel Atom microprocessor, and the device can hold as much as 2GB of DRAM. The configuration I tested did have 2GB of DRAM, as well as a 160GB HDD.

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