HP 2133 Mini-Note Review

by JerryJ Reads (81,407)

by Jerry Jackson and Tiffany Boggs

Just when you thought you’d never find the perfect small form factor notebook for less than $1,000, HP comes to the table with the all new 2133 Mini-Note.

This ultra mobile subnotebook features an impressive 8.9-inch screen, a remarkably large keyboard, a full-sized notebook hard drive, and plenty of impressive specs.

HP 2133 Mini-Note

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Is this the perfect road warrior machine? Let’s take a closer look and find out.

Table of Contents

Build and Design

The HP 2133 Mini-Note has a great design. Everyone in our office agreed that it has a solid chassis and attractive look.

HP 2133 Mini-Note

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The brushed aluminum and plastic casing is durable and hides fingerprints well. It also keeps the Mini-Note lightweight, only weighing in around 2.86 lbs as configured.

It has that sleek business appeal, but is targeted toward students as well. One look at the Mini-Note and I can see why. I mean, who wouldn’t want an inexpensive subnotebook to tote back and forth to class, especially one that pretty much has a full-size keyboard.

HP didn’t go wrong with the design. The 8.9" WXGA display is beautiful and easy to read. It puts off a glare though because of the protective coating.

Nothing about the Mini-Note feels cheap. I didn’t notice any signs of flex and enjoyed its good variety of ports and features.

The Mini-Note also comes with different hard drive options, so hopefully this might help in the performance section, considering the Mini-Note sports a VIA C7-M ULV processor.

HP 2133 Mini-Note

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As I mentioned above, the keyboard is almost full size. It is 92% of a full sized keyboard, which is quite impressive for such a small form factor. It is much more comfortable to type on compared to the Asus Eee PC.

The touchpad can be awkward though, especially the placement of the right and left click buttons. It does have a neat power and Wi-Fi switch that lights up and changes from blue when on to orange when off.

While some consumers might be upset at the absence of a DVD drive in the Mini-Note, that’s just one trade-off you have to make for such a compact design. In truth, there simply isn’t any room left inside the Mini-Note after everything is said and done.

If you’re interested in a quick overview of the HP 2133 Mini-Note, we’ve provided this short video below:

 

Screen

Compared to the screens on other subnotebooks priced below $1,000, the screen on the HP 2133 Mini-Note is beyond beautiful. Most notebooks that we review (regardless of size or price) would be lucky to have a screen like this.

HP 2133 Mini-Note HP 2133 Mini-Note
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Contrast is excellent, backlighting is even across the surface without any bleeding around the edges, colors are saturated and crisp, and viewing angles are relatively nice.

The 1280 by 768 pixel resolution is likewise exceptional given the small size of this notebook. Text is a little smaller than what most consumers would prefer, but this is a minor inconvenience considering the fact that you can display a complete webpage on the LCD exactly as it was meant to be displayed.

The only issue that caused concern with the screen on the Mini-Note was the use of an additional protective layer of glossy plastic over the screen. While this helps protect the display, the unfortunate side effect is significant reflection. We’re not talking about a typical glossy screen. We’re talking about a screen with a completely separate glossy layer applied over it.

HP 2133 Mini-Note
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When viewing the display your eyes naturally shift focus between what is being displayed on the screen and what is being reflected in the glossy surface of the second layer over the screen. Since these images are on a slightly different focal plane you can easily develop eye strain and headaches. I actually developed a mild headache after less than two hours of using this notebook.

To the right is a sample image to illustrate the screen reflections on the Mini-Note.

The reflections on the screen aren’t noticeable at all in a dark room, but most people don’t use their notebooks in the dark unless they’re just watching movies. If you aren’t sensitive to reflections then the screen is beautiful when viewed from straight ahead.

Keyboard and Touchpad

The keyboard on the 2133 Mini-Note is great. To put it plainly, this is the best keyboard we’ve seen on a notebook this small.

HP 2133 Mini-Note
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The keys have a silver finish and are smooth to the touch. There isn’t a textured feel to the keyboard.

The best thing though is how big it is. I mean, it almost is a full-sized keyboard, so writing papers on this thing is a breeze. No spelling errors due to hitting the wrong keys.

We didn’t notice any signs of flex and really liked that most of the keys were full sized except a few. The tilde key and the number one key are smaller than the rest of the numbers, which was quite odd. The space bar was relatively small too.

The touchpad was awkward. Response time was a little slow sometimes, but it is easy to navigate with.

HP 2133 Mini-Note

The right and left click buttons are what get you. The buttons are located on the sides of the touchpad, which take some time to get used too. I forgot what I am clicking on sometimes.

I would have liked the palm rest area to be a little bigger, so the buttons could have been relocated below the touchpad like on standard notebooks or the Eee PC.

The button above the touchpad is a convenient feature that turns the touchpad off and makes it inactive when you are typing.

Input and Output Ports

Of course, one minor compromise you have to make with the ultra-mobile form factor of the Mini-Note is that the laptop cannot accommodate the standard array of ports you’ll find on other notebooks. Still, HP did manage to include a reasonable number of ports.

The complete list includes:

  • 1x ExpressCard/54 slot
  • Secure Digital (SD) card reader
  • 2x USB 2.0 ports
  • VGA out
  • Power connector
  • RJ-45/Ethernet
  • Stereo headphone/line out
  • Stereo microphone/line in

Here is a quick tour around the HP 2133 Mini-Note:

HP 2133 Mini-Note   HP 2133 Mini-Note
Front view: Power switch, drive status
light, Wi-Fi on/off switch
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  Rear view: No ports here, just
the hinges and battery
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HP 2133 Mini-Note    HP 2133 Mini-Note
Left side view: VGA out, heat vent,
USB 2.0 port, microphone in,
headphone out
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  Right side view: ExpressCard/54 slot,
SD card reader, USB 2.0 port, Ethernet,
power connector, and security lock slot
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Performance and Benchmarks

After the impressive build and design of the HP 2133 Mini-Note we expected to see a likewise impressive level of performance coming out of this tiny titan. Unfortunately, performance is one area where the Mini-Note falls short.

On paper the 1.6 GHz VIA C7-M processor should provide excellent speed for general computing tasks. In reality, web pages rendered slower than expected, multi-tasking was painfully slow, and most processor-hungry applications like Photoshop or video encoding software just didn’t like the VIA processor.

Our standard range of synthetic benchmark tests likewise didn’t play very nice with the VIA processor and VIA Chrome 9 integrated graphics. While synthetic benchmarks don’t always give you an accurate measure of a system’s real-world performance, these benchmarks do give you a good idea of how the HP Mini-Note performs compared to other laptops currently on the market.

While the benchmark numbers certainly aren’t "bad" it’s hard to get excited about these numbers when you factor in that this configuration of the HP Mini-Note costs more than $750. With that said, let’s jump into the benchmarks.


PCMark05 measures overall system performance (higher scores mean better performance):

Notebook PCMark05 Score
HP 2133 Mini-Note (1.6 GHz VIA C7-M ULV) 801 PCMarks
HTC Shift (800 MHz Intel A110) 891 PCMarks
Asus Eee PC 4G (630 MHz Intel Celeron M ULV) 908 PCMarks
Asus Eee PC 4G (900 MHz Intel Celeron M ULV) 1,132 PCMarks
Everex CloudBook (1.2 GHz VIA C7-M ULV) 612 PCMarks
Sony VAIO TZ (1.20 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo U7600) 2,446 PCMarks
Fujitsu LifeBook P7230 (1.2 GHz Intel Core Solo U1400) 1,152 PCMarks
Sony VAIO VGN-G11XN/B (1.33 GHz Core Solo U1500) 1,554 PCMarks
Toshiba Portege R500 (1.2 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo U7600) 1,839 PCMarks

 

wPrime processor comparison results (lower scores mean better performance):

Notebook / CPU wPrime 32M time
HP 2133 Mini-Note (Via CV7-M ULV @ 1.6 GHz) 168.697 seconds
Asus Eee PC 4G (Intel Celeron M ULV @ 630 MHz) 289.156 seconds
Asus Eee PC 4G (Intel Celeron M ULV @ 900 MHz) 200.968 seconds
Everex CloudBook (VIA C7-M ULV @ 1.2 GHz) 248.705 seconds
Fujitsu U810 Tablet PC (Intel A110 @ 800 MHz) 209.980 seconds
Sony VAIO VGN-G11XN/B (Core Solo U1500 @ 1.33 GHz) 124.581 seconds
Sony VAIO TZ (Core 2 Duo U7600 @ 1.2 GHz) 76.240 seconds
Dell Inspiron 2650 (Pentium 4 Mobile @ 1.6 GHz) 231.714 seconds

 

Another factor to keep in mind when judging the overall system performance is the operating system being used. Our pre-production review unit was using Windows Vista Business and, like most notebooks using Windows Vista, performance likely suffers as a result.

Here is a short video comparing the startup time of the HP Mini-Note with Vista against the Asus Eee PC with XP:

 

While you may argue our justification for comparing a notebook with Vista against a notebook with XP, this is a valid comparison because it demonstrates what consumers will experience "out of the box" with two notebooks targeted at similar customers.

Audio

HP 2133 Mini-Note
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The built-in speaker performance on the Mini-Note was quite superior compared to other notebooks in this class. The audio is excellent for watching short video clips or web conferencing, but it’s also loud enough to enjoy music or full-length movies with distortion-free sound using the built-in speakers.

Of course, for the best possible audio performance you’ll want to use external speakers or headphones. The audio output via the headphone jack is quite good and provides excellent, distortion-free sound for headphones or external speakers.

Heat and Noise

The ultra low voltage VIA processor in the HP 2133 Mini-Note generated far more heat than we typically expect from ultra low voltage processors.

Temperature readings taken from the outside of the aluminum and plastic chassis spiked above 110 degrees Fahrenheit in multiple locations, and the Mini-Note actually became uncomfortable to hold after 30-45 minutes of serious use.

The cooling fan ran at full speed most of the time, and clearly struggled to keep temperatures under control. Most of the time the fan is only loud enough to hear in a perfectly quiet environment, but if you work in a relatively quiet office or classroom setting you should be prepared for co-workers and students to complain about the noise.

Below are images indicating the temperature readings from the HP 2133 Mini-Note (listed in degrees Fahrenheit) taken inside our office where the ambient temperature was 75 degrees Fahrenheit:

 

Battery Life

Overall, the HP 2133 Mini-Note did a reasonable job in terms of power management.

With the Mini-Note connected to a Wi-Fi network and browsing the web on the "balanced" power setting with the display at about 50 percent brightness, we obtained 2 hours and 15 minutes of battery life with the standard 3-cell battery. Using the same settings we obtained 4 hours and 11 minutes of battery life with the 6-cell extended life battery.

Bottom line, the Mini-Note makes an excellent mobile companion with the extended life battery. The only possible negative to using the extended life battery is that the larger 6-cell battery sticks out from the bottom of the notebook, adding both size and weight. However, this also provides an advantage since it provides a more ergonomic angle to the keyboard for typing.

Pricing

Pricing for the HP 2133 Mini-Note range from as little as $500 for the 1.0 GHz VIA processor, 512 MB of RAM and a 4 GB PATA Flash module with Linux, to $750 for the 1.6 GHz VIA processor, 2 GB of RAM and a 120 GB 5400 rpm hard drive running Windows Vista Business.

HP will also be offering a version of the Mini-Note with a 160 GB 7200 rpm hard drive (which is the configuration we received for review) but that pricing was unavailable at the time of this writing. Still, it’s safe to assume the price for this configuration will be more than $750.

Conclusion

The HP 2133 Mini-Note is one of the most impressive subnotebooks we’ve ever seen. Unfortunately, the amazing design and solid range of features are diminished by a sub-par processor and a price tag that places this notebook dangerously close to far superior 12-inch notebooks such as the HP tx2000.

HP managed to create the single most impressive ultraportable notebook on the market… and then decided to put a lackluster processor inside.

Despite the poor processor performance, the HP 2133 Mini-Note is a remarkably solid machine that could be a perfect fit for students, teachers, or mobile business professionals. If HP decides to replace the VIA processors with the new Intel Atom processors or alternative processors from Intel, the Mini-Note would become the undisputed champion of the subnotebook market.

Pros:

  • The most attractive 8.9-inch notebook we’ve ever seen
  • Excellent build quality
  • Great keyboard
  • ExpressCard slot offers fantastic expansion possibilities
  • Multiple configuration options

Cons:

  • VIA processor just doesn’t perform well
  • Windows Vista might be too much for the VIA processor and graphics
  • Strange location for touchpad buttons
  • Screen is too reflective due to second glossy protective layer
  • Aluminum and plastic casing gets a little too hot
  • Price is a little too much for what you get

Specifications

  • Operating System: Genuine Windows Vista Business, Genuine Windows Vista Home Basic 32, FreeDOS, or SuSE Linux Enterprise Desktop 10
  • Processor: VIA C7-M ULV Processor (up to 1.6 GHz, 128 KB L2 cache)
  • Chipset: VIA CN896NB and 8237S SB
  • Memory: DDR2 SDRAM, 667 MHz, one SODIMM memory slot, supports up to 2048 MB
  • Internal Storage: 120 GB/160 GB 5400 rpm SATA, 120 GB/160 GB 7200 rpm SATA with HP 3D DriveGuard; or 64 GB Solid State Drive; optional 4 GB PATA Flash Module with SuSE Linux
  • Display: 8.9-inch diagonal WXGA (1280 x 768)
  • Graphics: VIA Chrome 9
  • Audio: High Definition Audio, stereos speakers, integrated stereo microphones, stereo headphone/line out, stereo microphone in
  • Wireless support: Broadcom 802.11a/b/g, b/g, optional Bluetooth 2.0, HP Wireless Assistant
    Communications Broadcom Ethernet Integrated Controller (10/100/1000)
  • Expansion slots: (1) ExpressCard/54 slot, (1) Secure Digital (SD) slot
  • Ports and connectors: (2) USB 2.0 ports, VGA, power connector, RJ-45/Ethernet, stereo headphone/line out, stereo microphone in, optional VGA webcam
  • Input device: 92% full-sized keyboard, touchpad with scroll zone
  • Software: HP Backup and Recovery Manager, Roxio Creator 9, Microsoft Office Ready 20078
    Security Kensington lock, Symantec Norton Internet Security
  • Dimensions (H x W x D): 1.05 (at front) x 10.04 x 6.5 inches
  • Weight: 2.63 lb (with 3-cell battery and 4 GB Solid State Drive, 3.23 lb with 6-cell battery and 160 GB hard drive, 2.86 lb with 3-cell battery and 160 GB hard drive.
  • Power: 6-cell (55 WHr) or 3-cell (28 WHr) Lithium-Ion battery, 65W HP Smart AC Adapter with HP Fast Charge
  • Warranty: Limited 1-year and 90-day warranty options available, depending on country, 1-year limited warranty on primary battery

 


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