Hewlett Packard Mini 2140 Notebook PC

Netbooks are primarily the domain of the consumer world, but there are a couple which target businesspeople. Hewlett Packard's Mini 2140 is one.

Netbooks are primarily the domain of the consumer world, but there are a couple which target businesspeople. Hewlett Packard's Mini 2140 is one. My US colleague Dan Ackerman reviewed it a little while ago.

I'm not going to do a complete double take here, but I do want to add my views to the pot.

The Mini 2140 isn't a featherweight at 1.1kg. But it does feel solid. The aluminum casing makes this netbook look and feel every inch the businessperson's machine, and puts the plastic shell of other netbooks firmly in consumer-land.

Screen and keyboard are both super. The screen is a 10.1-inch LED offering 1024 x 576 pixels. Yes, I know, I'd have liked the full 600 pixels of height, but actually in everyday use it works well enough. The keyboard extends to the extreme left and right edges of the casing and HP says it is 92 percent full sized. It feels superb under the fingers and I was able to work at full touch-typing speed. Not something I've been able to say about every netbook I've used.

Where I did feel let down was the touchpad. There isn't room for the two mouse buttons to sit beneath it and their positions at the left and right of the pad, while not unusual for a netbook format, is awkward. I never did really get used to it and it was may major everyday usability issue.

In the specifications department the netbook basics are all covered. An Atom N270 processor powers the 2140 and you can opt for a 160GB drive or an 80GB solid state drive.

802.11 a, b, g and Draft-N are here as is Bluetooth. Ethernet is here too. There is no mobile 3G and no built in modem, but two USB ports are on hand if you want to use a dongle. A full sized ExpressCard slot, monitor, microphone and headphones connectors and an SD card slot round the connectivity off. There is a webcam. Windows Vista Business, XP Pro, XP Home and Vista Home Basic are all available.

I think I could live with this netbook as a mobile computer quite happily in the long term. But I don't think it could function well as my only computer.

And this is the big problem, really. As I write the HP Mini 2140 is listed at the HP Web site as costing £389 ex VAT. That's not exactly a pocket money price, and is a far cry from the least expensive of the netbooks.

I'm not the first to say it, and I won't be the last, but the crossover area at the top end of the netbook spectrum and the low end of the notebook one is difficult for the manufacturers to manage. I'm not sure HP's strategy - of calling this machine a notebook rather than a netbook - is enough to do the job.