Notes On the HP 2133 Mini-Note

I have gotten a query from another HP 2133 Mini-Note owner about my previous postings concerning it, how it is working now, and what can be done about a few key issues on it. Since there has been some other interest here to my previous postings about the 2133, and I haven't had much to say about it recently, I think it is a good idea to post my reply here.

I have gotten a query from another HP 2133 Mini-Note owner about my previous postings concerning it, how it is working now, and what can be done about a few key issues on it. Since there has been some other interest here to my previous postings about the 2133, and I haven't had much to say about it recently, I think it is a good idea to post my reply here.

I still have, and love, my HP 2133 Mini-Note (the one with the higher resolution display, 1280x768), and I use it pretty much every day. Our second 2133, with the lower resolution display (1024x600) which I had purchased for my partner, is about to go to Kosovo on a relief mission with a friend, so that he can stay in contact with his wife via Skype while he is there. That should yield some interesting information about durability and usability.

There is good news and bad news on the video driver front. The good news is that the latest openchrome drivers have been incorporated in pretty much all of the popular Linux distributions, so at least the installation process is a lot easier than it was back in March. The bad news is that even the latest drivers do not include GL (3D) support, so the graphic performance isn't nearly as good as it could be with the VIA Chrome9 display controller - it's nowhere near as good as with other (lesser) controllers such as the Intel 950 controller. The most obvious place where this is visible is that the 2133 just can't run the Ubuntu Netbook Remix well at all, the 3D effects on the UNR desktop are painfully slow. I suspect that will have at least some effect when using the 2133 for playing videos, although I don't do much of that myself so I can't be sure.

Although I have some nine different Linux distributions currently loaded for multi-boot on my 2133, Dreamlinux is not one of them, so I am not sure what version of the openchrome drivers they are using. As other distributions, what I generally recommend, especially for people who intend to use their computers for multimedia playing, is Linux Mint. It is derived from the latest Ubuntu distribution, so the latest Mint (7, aka Gloria) is derived from Ubuntu 9.04 Jaunty Jackalope. It has a lot of optional packages and codecs preinstalled, so it not only saves a fair amount of time, it may also include some things that you didn't even know about - that was certainly the case with me, anyway. Out of curiosity, I just booted Mint on my 2133, and played a couple of Youtube videos. The quality seemed ok, they were not jerky or pixellating. I also played one of the videos on the ZDNet UK web site, which is of course flash-based, and it played just fine as well - if anything perhaps a bit better than the Youtube video did.

Changing the screen resolution isn't much of a problem, at least within the range of what is possible for whichever display you have. I just tried it on my 2133, with the 1280x768 display, running Mint, by going to Preferences / Display, and there is a long list of resolutions to choose from ranging down through 1024x768, 800x600 and all the way down to 640x480, with lots of other steps along the way. I set it to 1024x768, and that worked just fine. I don't have the lower resolution 2133 here on my desk right now, but I'm sure it would be the same, with the possible resolutions ranging from 1024x600 down through multiple steps to 640x480.

Doubling the battery life... hmm, that's a tough one. The easy/silly answer is, of course, get the optional double battery pack if you don't already have it - mine came with it installed. It has 6 cells rather than the standard 3, but of course it is then twice the thickness of the standard one, so it causes the 2133 to sit up in the back sort of like it is standing on a foot. That is also not all bad, as it probably helps with cooling the bottom of the case, where it can get quite warm. The problem, though, is that your first criteria, better video performance, is probably directly at odds with your desire for longer battery life. If you want the best performance, video or otherwise, the machine needs to be running at full speed; but if you want to extend battery life, you need to have aggresive power management enabled, which will be throttling down the CPU - and with the Chrome9 driver not having GL support, a good part of the display driving is going to be handled by the CPU. So you just have to fool around with it, and try to find the best compromise.

I hope this helps - feel free to ask again if you need more help.

jw 30/7/2009

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