What's hot: LED backlit display, metal casing, large keyboard.
What's not: A tad heavier than some other netbooks and pricier than some.
Reviewed May 15, 2009 by Lisa Gade, Editor
The HP Mini 2140 is HP's "business" and education netbook, while their Mini 1000 series targets consumers. The 2140 is the update to the first generation 2133, and there's significant improvement in the 2140. The VIA CPU in the 2133 has been banished and replaced by the ubiquitous Intel Atom N270 running at 1.6GHz. While the VIA was sluggish, hot and battery-eating, the Atom is cool, frugal and fast for a budget ultraportable processor. HP has kept our and everyone else's favorite: the 92 percent of full-sized notebook keyboard that even large-fisted men can hunker down with. HP was the first to understand that a large netbook keyboard is a must, and thus extended the keyboard area to the very edges of the notebook's chassis. Dell's Mini and Sony with their Vaio P followed suit, and we hope that all netbook manufacturers will jump on the bandwagon.
The trackpad on the other hand, is a little funky. Similar to the Acer Aspire One's, the right and left mouse buttons sit beside the trackpad rather than below it. That makes them un-ergonomic, though it does allow for a smaller wrist rest area.
HP's netbooks, especially the business line, cost more than the budget Asus Eee PC, Acer Aspire One and HP's own Mini 1000 line. If saving money is the reason you're shopping for a netbook, the HP 2140, currently starting at $449 on an HP promotion, and running up to $599 off-promotion, might stretch your budget. But the 2140 does add several features that are worth the money, including a brushed aluminum casing, hard drive protection (head-parking during sudden movement), an ExpressCard/54 slot, Bluetooth (generally absent on low end netbooks) and WiFi with draft-N support (most netbooks offer 802.11b/g).
The Mini has a 10.1" HP Illumi-Lite LED backlit display with a glossy finish and flush design. The resolution is 1024 x 576, a little lower than the more common 1024 x 600 netbook resolution. Those 600 pixels are annoying enough because dialog boxes and preference settings run off the bottom of the display, and you just might reach that OK or cancel button by dragging the window to the very top of the display. With 576 pixels, there's no hope, so you'll have to hit the enter button for OK (praying that OK is the default) and escape to cancel. HP has recently released a 1366 x 768 version for as little as $30 more and we highly recommend that option.
The display is very nice, especially for a budget-oriented product. LED backlighting uses less power and makes for a bright display with richer colors. The display has vibrant colors and is plenty bright. While the high gloss surface increases contrast and makes blacks look deeper, it also picks up plenty of glare (the same is true of most glossy displays). Text is crisp and easy to read, even at small sizes and photos and videos look lovely.
The 2140 can handle YouTube video playback over WiFi well, though the low resolution may result in a tiny bit of top/bottom clipping for higher resolution videos unless you hide some browser toolbars. Likewise, the Intel GMA 950 integrated graphics can handle standard definition iTunes video playback well (better than the newer Intel GMA500 used on 2nd generation Atom netbooks!). Though the Mini has a widescreen aspect ratio, there's no internal DVD drive and the resolution is too low for 720p playback.
The 2140 is available only with the first generation 1.6GHz Atom N270 processor with the Mobile 945GSE Express chipset. Our HP Mini shipped with Windows XP, a gig of DDR2 RAM and a 160 gig SATA 5400 rpm hard drive. That's the most RAM and hard drive capacity Microsoft allows for new PCs shipped with Windows XP. HP also offers the Mini with 2 gigs pre-installed (that's the max it can address) and that comes with Vista Home Basic for $499. For $579 you can get it with 2 gigs of RAM, Vista Business and a downgrade disc for Windows XP Professional. So if you want XP and 2 gigs, you'll save money by installing your own 2 gig DIMM in the single RAM slot. The SODIMM slot and hard drive are fairly easy to access: remove 3 tiny philips head screws inside the battery compartment and lift up the keyboard. The RAM slot and keyboard are directly under the keyboard.
HP also offers the 2140 with FreeDOS and SUSE Linux Enterprise 10 if you build to order. Those two operating systems will save you $40, and you can order them with 2 gigs of RAM. BTO versions of the 2140 are generally less economical than the several available pre-configured models however, so you may do better buying the XP version and installing Linux yourself.
Performance under XP with a gig of RAM is quite good. The machine doesn't wallow, and it handles MS Office 2007, email, web browsing, YouTube and iTunes standard definition video just fine. Given the CPU and screen resolution, don't expect the Mini 2140 to be your only notebook or handle serious 3D games, lots of Photoshop or software development. It's not meant to replace a standard laptop for these kinds of tasks.
The machine has a VGA webcam, an SD card reader, 10/100 Ethernet, Bluetooth and Broadcom WiFi 802.11a/b/g/draft-n. For a netbook, the HP 2140 has very good WiFi range and speeds-- in fact it performed as well as a standard notebook. The webcam works well with Skype for voice and video calls under Windows XP. Since our unit didn't ship with Vista, we can't attest to Skype performance under Vista which usually suffers on netbooks.
That 3 cell battery fits flush with the casing and gave us runtimes approaching 3 hours with WiFi active and the screen set to 66% brightness. That's pretty good, and better than we expected from a small battery. The 6 cell battery will double runtimes at the expense of weight (the machine weighs 3 lbs. with the 6 cell battery) and a prominence sticking out the back.
Netbooks aren't the bastion of quality and high end features. Sony's Vaio P caters to those who want little compromise in a tiny package, but at a higher price ($899 to $1,199). The HP Mini 2140 sits in between: it's closer to budget netbooks in size and price but adds key features like an aluminum casing for rigidity and good looks, WiFi draft N for faster wireless, Bluetooth (very handy if you wish to use your mobile phone as a modem for the Mini or just want to use a Bluetooth mouse) and an ExpressCard/54 slot. The construction is excellent, the machine looks good and that metal casing adds weight but it's still fairly light at 2.6 lbs. with the 3 cell battery. HP's software support is good, and they release easily installable drivers and firmware updates which is an advantage over the Eee PC and Acer netbooks. Acer's firmware updates require technical prowess while HP's are painless and it's maddening to upgrade RAM on the Acer (it requires complete disassembly).
Pro: Excellent keyboard, fast WiFi draft N with good range and throughput, Bluetooth, easy to upgrade memory and hard drive
Con: Pricier than some netbooks, but you do get what you pay for.
Price: Pre-configured models currently run from $449 to $599. As tested: our unit sells for $449. Build-to-order models range from $497 to over $1,000 dollars.
Display:10.1-inch diagonal HP Illumi-Lite LED display. Resolution: 1024 x 576 pixels (a 1366 x 768 resolution display is available on one 2140 SKU). Intel GMA 950 integrated graphics using shared memory.
Battery:3 cell, 28 WHr Lithium
Ion rechargeable (6 cell, 55 WHr battery is optional and sticks out the back).
Atom N270 CPU running at 1.6GHz, Intel Mobile 945GSE Express chipset. 533MHz FSB. 1 gig DDR RAM (2 gigs max, one SODIMM slot).
Size:10.3 x 6.5 x 1.05 inches. Weight: 2.6 pounds with 3 cell battery, 3.0 pounds with 6 cell battery.
Audio:Built-in stereo speakers, stereo mics surrounding the webcam, mic jack and 3.5mm standard stereo headphone
jack. SoundMax Digital HD audio.
Drives:160 gig hard drive, 5400 rpm SATA (ours was a Fujitsu drive). 3D DriveGuard accelerometer senses movement and parks the drive's heads to avoid damage during movement.
Broadcom 4322AG WiFi 802.11a/b/g/n and Broadcom Bluetooth 2.0.
XP Home Edition 32-bit. HP Software Setup, HP Webcam software, PDF Express, McAfee anti-virus trial, 60 day MS Office 2007 trial.
Ports and Expansion:2 USB 2.0, VGA, mic in, headphone jack, RJ-45 Ethernet. ExpressCard/54 slot and
SD (Secure Digital) card slot.