Tiny notebooks from Dell and HP marching their way to your lap

...and it will be a veritable boxing match to see which one comes out on top.

HP 2133 Mini-Note PC...and it will be a veritable boxing match to see which one comes out on top.

In this corner, the HP 2133 Mini-Note PC: now available for sale to the public, with five models priced between $499 and $849. Here are some stats:

2.6 pounds, Via C7-M processor, 1280x768 8.9-inch screen, QWERTY keyboard that's eight percent smaller than standard. On the low end, a $499 1.0GHz Linux-powered unit is configured with 4GB of flash and 512MB of RAM; on the high, $749 for a 1.6GHz processor, 120GB hard drive and Vista Business.

In the other corner, a rumored Compal Electronics-made Dell notebook, 8.9-inch screen for less than $499. No statistics as of yet, but Michael Dell responded to HP fanfare in The Mercury News yesterday with the following: "We will introduce a similar laptop."

"We do see opportunities for very interesting products that are smaller and lighter and address the more mobile users in a very cost-effective way," he said, adding the laptops would "fit into the category" of targeting a market for children.

"Stay tuned," Dell said. "We will have some interesting products coming in that space over the next two quarters."

Given Dell's recent, uh, progress, this may be an interesting make-or-break product for the company. Then again, I always thought the tiny screens and keyboards of mini laptops were going out of vogue.

What do you think, readers? Is the mini-notebook a carpal tunnel catastrophe or a lightweight workhorse? Or will these new bargain prices outweigh everything else? Tell us in TalkBack.

UPDATE: From the Dow Jones newswire: "Compal will initially ship 200,000-300,000 notebook computers to Dell each month, said the official, who declined to be named. Compal Electronics, the world's second-largest contract manufacturer of notebook computers by revenue after Quanta Computer Inc. (2382.TW), aims to ship 1 million to 2 million low-cost notebook computers to Dell in 2008, the official added."