The Mini 210 HD is the latest netbook from HP, offering a full 720P-compatible 1366x768 resolution on a compact 10.1-inch display. This model includes the 1.66GHz Intel Atom N455 processor standard-with the faster 1.83GHz N475 for $25 more-as well as Intel GMA 3150 integrated graphics. In this review we see how well this netbook holds up against the competition and if you should consider this over a slightly more powerful CULV notebook.
Our HP Mini 210 HD Specifications:
The new design of the HP Mini really helps to enhance its looks and raise the expectation that this netbook isn't a toy but rather a full-fledged designer notebook. The new Mini uses painted panels for the screen cover and bottom cover, adding a touch of color to each model. Compared to normal designs that leave the bottom with bland, unfinished black plastic, this really helps in the looks department. The interior was also given a facelift, featuring a flush-mount Synaptics touchpad with integrated buttons. It also makes use of a redesigned Chiclet keyboard with integrated function-key lights to show when certain features are activated. The new look is nothing short of astonishing.
Screen and Speakers
The display on the HP Mini 210 HD is unlike most other netbooks. It has a higher WXGA (1366x768) resolution instead of the usual 1024x600 panel found on other models. This is useful in a number of ways, including properly displaying menu windows and reducing excessive horizontal or vertical scrolling. Another added benefit is being able to watch 720P video, although it also relies on you having a Broadcom CrystalHD decoder card configured with the system. Without that card the system would be unable to play the content, let alone display it on the higher resolution panel at reasonable framerates.
The panel itself is easy to read--at least with my eyes--and text doesn't appear to be that small compared to other mobile devices. If you can read small text on a mobile phone, you should be able to view the screen without any problems. Color and contrast are very nice, although at times I felt reflections off the all-glass surface seemed to obscure part of the panel. Backlight levels were great for viewing the screen in bright office conditions, but outdoor viewing was out of the question. Viewing angles were average compared to other notebooks, with colors starting to invert or distort when the screen was tilted about 15 degrees forward or back. Horizontal viewing angles were better, but the reflections seemed to obscure the panel past 45 to 50 degrees.
The small speakers on the HP Mini 210 HD are located on the front edge of the palmrest, angled downward towards your lap. On a flat desktop they easily filled up a small room with music but once you placed the netbook in your lap they became muffled and easily blocked by clothing. Sound quality was average compared to other similarly sized netbooks, with weak bass and midrange.
The HP Mini 210 HD features a 93% fullsize Chiclet keyboard. For short term use the keyboard is comfortable to type on and feels as strong as typing on a regular notebook. The size though can feel slightly cramped depending on if you are used to typing on a larger notebook. For short term travel or light usage in the home for web browsing you probably won't have any problem. If you intended to use this as your primary system, you might want to consider moving up to the 11.6" ultraportable form-factor which is closer to standard full-size while still being very portable.
Function keys on the keyboard are direct access, meaning you don't need to press the "Fn" button to adjust the screen brightness or enable Wi-Fi. Another feature is built-in indicator lights for the mute and wireless on/off buttons. While there is no performance different between this and side mounted lights, it helps in the aesthetics department.
Ports and Features
The HP Mini 210 HD features three USB 2.0 ports, VGA-out, one audio headset jack, and Ethernet. The system also includes a SDHC card slot. Optional features include GPS, WWAN, and a Broadcom CrystalHD card for HD video decoding.
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