Little Big Book
It’s a shame that notebook-makers sell their biggest and bulkiest systems to schools, despite the fact that they will be used and lugged around by children. HP ends this size mismatch with its HP2133 Mini-Note PC, the first notebook designed especially for K-to-12 students and classrooms. One of the smallest, lightest and least expensive systems available, the Mini-Note only disappoints on performance.
Housed in a silver-colored aluminum case, the Mini-Note has a sophisticated appearance as opposed to the toy-like look that some other school systems have. Thoughtful design touches abound, like LED battery charge indicators, a built-in Web cam and a low screen hinge so that kids can’t hide from the teacher behind it. Plus, the hinge is made of super-strong magnesium and the screen has a scratch-resistant coating. I love HP’s DriveGuard technology, which automatically protects the hard drive’s contents if the system’s been dropped.
At 10.1 by 6.5 inches, the system weighs 2.6 pounds with its standard 3-cell battery pack and the front edge is just 1 inch thick. With the 6-cell battery, the keyboard has a comfortable tilt to it and the system still weighs only 3.2 pounds. In other words, it’s perfect for being carried and used by small hands.
As small as it is, the Mini-Note has all the basics. The $750 fully loaded system I looked came with a 1.6GHz VIA C7-M processor, 2GB of system memory, a 120GB hard drive and Windows Vista. The $500 base model is less ambitious with a 1GHz CPU, 512MB of RAM, 4GB of flash memory and Linux. All Mini-Notes have an 8.9-inch wide-screen and VIA graphics with 8MB of its own memory; it can use up to 380MB of system memory.
On top of stereo speakers and a touchpad with large actuation buttons, the Mini-Note has 18mm keys that are perfect for the tiny fingers. There are enough ports to connect at school or home as well as wired and wireless networking. It’s got Bluetooth, but lacks an optical drive and a modem.
The pre-production sample I looked at was not only reliable, but its 6-cell battery ran for 3 hours 35 minutes of continuous use, more than enough for a school day of stop-and-go use. Although it never locked up in two weeks of daily use, the Mini-Note felt sluggish. Its 845 and 107.4 scores on the PC Mark 05 and FutureMark’s Performance test, respectively, are the lowest levels I’ve seen. Even so, the system has a hot spot on the left side near the exhaust fan’s outlet.
The final piece of the Mini-Note puzzle is the teacher Experience Web site (www.hp.co./go/teacherexperience) that HP built in collaboration with Microsoft. Once you register, it is a curriculum cornucopia with everything from teaching tips to lesson plan ideas.
It may not be a performance system, but the Mini-Note is an inexpensive way to bring notebooks to K-through-12 students and not wear them out carrying the systems around all day. The first notebook designed with the needs of these students in mind, I hope it won’t be the last.
HP2133 Mini-Note PC
Price (base/as tested): $500/$750
+ Good price
+ Sized for small hands
+ Overall design
- Sluggish performance
- Hot spot
- No optical drive
Specs: 1.6GHz VIA C7-M processor, 2GB RAM, 160GB hard drive, 8.9-inch screen at 1,280 by 768 pixel resolution; 3.2 pounds with 6-cell battery, 1.0 by 10.1 by 6.5-inches: Windows Vista Business.
Bottom line: the first notebook designed for the K-12 crowd, the Mini-Note is a bargain.