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You’ve got to hand it to HP, they sure know how to make a sexy looking Netbook. Unfortunately, while it has a whole lot going for it, it has one major flaw that can be really frustrating – low screen resolution.

This is a first HP Netbook to incorporate the Intel Atom N270 processor. Running at 1.6Ghz it makes light work of most office productivity tasks and web surfing.  We found that it struggled a little when watching full screen video but considering the size of the device and its low price tag, it was a shortcoming we were willing to forgive.

While we had no problem with the physical size of the screen, the resolution was another matter.  The maximum resolution available is only 1024 x576 which is extremely restrictive. It turns what could have been a highly enjoyable experience with the 2140 into a losing battle for screen real estate.  Trying to read emails and surf websites feels cramped. That being said, the screen itself is exceptional.  The LED display allows for bright, crisp images and accurate colour reproduction.  It is quite reflective though, making it a little less impressive under fluorescent office lights but that has become the norm in notebook monitors these days.

When it comes to design, this is one of the best Netbooks on the market.  It not only has an attractive look but it is also extremely well built and solid as a rock. Its 10inch screen is encased in a thick brushed metal lid with rounded edges.  The keyboard is much larger than most Netbooks and is comfortable and responsive.  The offset of having such a large keyboard is that the touchpad is a little too small and has the left and right buttons either side of it rather than below so you may need to use an external mouse.

 

The HP Mini 2140 has two USB ports, an ExpressCard slot and an SD Card memory port. It comes with Bluetooth and WiFi adapters built-in and also has a LAN port for networking. There is also a 15pin DSub port for connecting it to an external monitor or projector.  Obviously, like all Netbooks, it has no optical drive.

It is also a 3G model and, as such, has a slot under the battery to house a SIM card.  Our test model was preinstalled with Vodafone software for 3G Wireless Broadband.

The standard sales package comes with a three cell battery but there is also a four and six cell option available.  We tested the battery life and found it to be quite reasonable.  We ran full screen video with all the battery optimisations turned off to see how long it would take to completely drain the battery.  It lasted a little over two hours.  Naturally, streaming video from a USB key is a worse case scenario for a Netbook so you can expect it to last closer to three hours for basic office productivity work.

Our review unit was installed with Windows XP Professional but you can also choose to run Windows Vista as well.  With only 1GB of RAM on board, you may be better off sticking with XP though due to the heavy memory requirements of Vista.

If it weren’t for the low resolution screen we would have no problems in recommending you run out and pick this one up in a heartbeat.  However, unless you feel you will be content with the resolution, you should probably wait for the next model to come out as there are whispers of a 1366×768 screen being available.

The HP Mini 2140 is available now for the recommended retail price of $799.

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