Mini-Note has many problems

The diminutive computer scores high on design but low on functionality.

Published July 30, 2008 1:00PM (EDT)

Intrigued by the HP 2133 Mini-Note's ($750) compact size, light weight and slick design pluses like an aluminum case and ultra-bright screen, I decided to take one for a spin.

Wary of the slightly shrunken keyboard (92 percent of full size), I was impressed to find I could touch-type at full speed with no noticeable stumbles. Not so nice is the touchpad with buttons on either side instead of below. Hitting the left one requires an unnatural twist of the wrist, and tapping the right button had me twisting the other way around. Can you say carpal-tunnel magnet?

The 1.6 processor running Windows Vista was zippy enough for Web browsing and Word, but adding Outlook to the mix slowed things down considerably, and switching between apps was especially laggy when new e-mail messages streamed into my in box. (Other OS options include Linux and Windows XP.)

Thanks to a larger battery pack, I squeaked out more than four hours of continuous use, but the trade-off is the bulk the pack adds, which totally uglifies the Mini-Note's sleek look and feel and makes for a too-tight squeeze when stowed in my notebook case.

While I could live with the too-tiny-for-most screen (8.9 inches), I couldn't cope with how hot the little sucker's bottom gets, making it impossible to use on my bare legs when I'm wearing shorts.

Bottom line: Great first impression in terms of design (when outfitted with the standard battery), but the goofy touchpad and hot-as-hell underside equal showstoppers only a fire-eating contortionist could live with.

By Joe Hutsko

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