One of our all-ime favorite Netbooks is the HP Mini 2140, a brushed-metal system from HP's business line that's a cousin to the consumer-focused Mini 1000. Interestingly, it's one of your favorites, too, as the Mini 2140 is the fourth most-viewed laptop review on CNET.
The revamped, and actually quite different, Mini 5101 trades the silver metal look, with a slight curve to the lid, for a more squared-off design in black brushed aluminum. HP's Ted Clark, senior vice president and general manager, Notebook Global Business Unit, calls it, "truly a work of art, a sophisticated companion PC crafted for the trend-savvy mobile professional who needs functionally, durability and style." We're not sure we'd go that far, but it is a pretty slick looking Netbook.
We always liked the HP Mini 2140 for it's solid construction and high-end extras, such as an ExpressCard slot. The new version loses the ExpressCard, but adds a default 7200rpm hard drive and an optional higher-resolution 1,366x768 display. An optional, integrated Gobi-powered HP Mobile Broadband module will also be offered, along with some custom syncing software for organizing files between desktop PCs and portable Netbooks (and HP has promised us it will work better than the broken version of the same software found in the recent HP Mini 110Netbook).
The other thing we're a little concerned about is changes to the Mini's keyboard -- one of our favorite features. The wide, flat, closely spaced keys have been tweaked to look and feel a little more like the keys on a MacBook or Sony Vaio laptop, with a good amount of space between them. We'll have to play around with the system a bit more to decide if we like the new layout better. One positive change -- the touchpad's mouse buttons have been moved to a more traditional spot below the touchpad, rather than on either side.
The inevitable catch is that the HP Mini 5101 starts at $449, which is at odds with much of the Netbook marketplace, where entry level systems are $299, and higher-end ones are $399. The HP Mini 5101 is expected to be available in late July.