HP Mini – big heart, little package

Posted: August 18, 2009 in computers, hardware
Tags: ,


I’m typing this on my daughters new toy/techno gadget, a HP Mini netbook 1033CA. i have to say i am pretty impressed, and surprised by that.

The need arose a while back for us to get another laptop since my daughter has been using my wife’s ibook for playing online games, mostly webkinz and that sort of thing – nothing too intense.  I have been holding off getting a new laptop for me, which when i do will cause the “laptop shuffle” in the house (mine goes to wife, wife’s goes to eldest daughter, hers goes to youngest daughter).  But i keep waiting for the next big change, and besides, my macbook is working great and really have no complaints, so when we saw this little HP Mini on sale it seemed to fit the bill.  At least for now.

The mini is a bit small for sitting on my lap, but that is mainly because i am used to having my 13″ Macbook on my knees so when i put the little 10.1″ mini on my lap instead it feels a bit uncomfortable.  Mainly i think it is the way the battery sits.  Its a battery that protrudes from the back top of the netbook and forms a riser.  The bad thing is that while it raises the potentially hot bottom surface off your legs, it tends to dig in a little much the way a chihuahua’s paws dig in when they stand on your legs.  little pointy feet .  Right now after only a few minutes of typing i am already finding it uncomfortable and have small indentations in my thighs from the rubber feet on the bottom of the battery/riser.  The fact that the mini is so small makes me sit a little uncomfortably as well, knees too close together, which considering this was purchased for my much smaller framed daugther is not a problem, more of an observation and comment for those who are thinking this might be the answer to their commuting needs. The keyboard is suprisingly easy to type on though, with the exception of a few keys that had to be moved to make the overall keyboard narrower, the keys themselves are well spaced and easy to type on.  In fact i don’t think it is slowing me down at all typing on it.  The one thing i am having issue with is the placement of the trackpad buttons, they are on the sides of the trackpad instead of beneath it.  We have 3 laptops in the house and i use them all frequently so the automatic movement for me is to tap or click below the trackpad, which in this case i can’t do since the trackpad is tight to the bottom edge of the netbook.

The screen is bright and clear, and even usable outside in the bright sunlight, which for such a portable device is very nice.  Network setup was dead easy and the speed at which the little 1.6 ghz Intel® Atom™ Processor N270 processor and 160 gig SATA hard drive function when copying files to and from the netbook to a USB thumbdrive is quite impressive.  The one gig of ram is sufficient, which is good since most components on these little netbooks are not user upgradable.  The three USB ports and 5-in-1 media slot are nice additions, and the VGA out and audio out have good potential for those who want to take pics, movies and music with them and be able to display them on a larger screen etc.  Out of the box this little puppy needed 53 updates, and since it came preinstalled with WinXp Home SP3,  i was not surprised it was out of date.  I blew away the included limited license Norton products and install AVG Free edition for virus protection as soon as i had connected to the internet.

So far its been a very good purchase, and the battery life is quite good, in fact i charge it once per day which is pretty good considering my daughter has been using it for a good chunk of each day since we got it playing her latest obsession online “Club Penguin”.  (Which is not a club for professional engineers it turns out.  Go figure.)  The graphics are good, the wireless G seems quick enough although i would have expected wireless N since it is the latest and this little puppy has no optical drive so anything you want to put on is either wireless or over a wired ethernet connection or the use of USB connected drives.  The 160 gig hard drive is ample room for most things and we plan on throwing some avi’s onto it for our roadtrip this weekend so the kids can watch movies as we travel instead of them bringing along their portable DVD players.  So as long as they can both agree on the movie to watch this should be easier than finding spots for two DVD players and trying to get their attention when they are immersed in their own little worlds with headphones on. Thats the theory anyway, in practice, who knows.

All in all, so far this little puppy is a great addition to the family and has good potential to be around for some time since the components are good enough for word processing, emailing and web browsing/game playing which after all is what netbooks were designed for, and really all the average road warrior or in our case, 8 yr old, needs.


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