We were one of the first to get our hands on the first netbook from HP and today they have announced the release of the next addition to that little notebook family. The HP Mini 1000 is a netbook aimed directly at the consumer in us all and has some great features that sets it apart from the crowded pack. We got to spend some quality time with the various models of the Mini 1000 and in this hands-on review we’ll share what we found about what may be the thinnest and lightest netbook yet. We’ll share the full deets about the Mini 1000 and cover how it compares to the predecessor, the Mini-Note. We should note that according to HP this does not replace the Mini-Note which will still be sold to the education market. The Mini 1000 is aimed at the consumer market and becomes a product line in its own right.
UPDATE: The Mini 1000 is now available for order at HP.
UPDATE #2: Both screen sizes are LED backlit.
UPDATE #3: There may very well be a 3G option early next year.
The Mini 1000 is easily one of the most attractive netbooks we have seen yet with a smooth black plastic casing that has the HP imprint technology on the lid. The device is less than an inch thick, one of HP’s design goals, and starts at 2.2 pounds making the Mini 1000 one of the thinnest and lightest netbooks around. The build quality is superb and feels very sturdy in the hand and could easily take the rigors of traveling.
MIE version, designer model, Win XP version (all with 10.2-inch displays)
The first thing we checked out on the Mini 1000 was the keyboard as the outstanding keyboard on the Mini-Note is easily the best on any netbook. We are happy to report that HP listened to the praise of that keyboard and the Mini 1000 has retained the same keyboard. This keyboard is 92% the size of a full keyboard and it is tailor-made for touch typing like a banshee. It feels good to use and has no poorly placed keys which is common on other netbooks. This is still the best keyboard we have used to date on a netbook and kudos to HP for sticking with what works.
The Mini 1000 will come in three different basic configurations: Windows XP, MIE (Ubuntu) and the Vivienne Tam red designer version. The Vivienne Tam is a designer version and we’ll give some information on it at the end of this article. We played with all three models which are basically the same except for the specs. Here are the basic specs depending on the model:
Left and right side views
- N270 Atom 1.6 GHz
- 512 MB/ 1 GB memory (2 GB on MIE model)
- 8, 16 GB SSD; 60 GB hard drive (PATA)
- 3-cell battery (25 WHr); 6-cell optional (52 WHr)
- 2 USB ports
- HP Mini Mobile Drive port (2/ 4/ 8 GB; more on this later)
- Combo headphone/ mic jack
- Expansion port (for optional dock)
- 802.11 b/g; Bluetooth 2.1 optional
- Webcam (0.3 MP/ VGA @ 30 fps)
- SD/ MMC slot
- 8.9 or 10.2 inch screen (1024×600); glossy
The Mini 1000 keeps basically the same form as the older Mini-Note but now offers two screen size options. The original 8.9 inch screen is still available but the welcome addition is the option of a 10.2 inch screen in the same chassis. Both of these screen sizes now offer 1024×600 and there is no option for 1280×768 as the Mini-Note provided. This is a shame as the higher resolution would be perfect on the 10.2 inch screen but it is no longer available. The 8.9 inch screen option has a plastic bezel around it but the 10.2 inch has flat glass that stretches from edge to edge of the lid which is very nice. There is only a glossy screen option which some folks will not prefer but it is very bright and vivid and looks good.
What’s the same as the older Mini-Note?
The first thing we checked out was how the Mini 1000 compares to the older Mini-Note. We found that for the most part HP kept the good stuff and changed things that could stand improving. As we’ve already mentioned the keyboard is basically the same and it can’t be stated strongly enough how good it is. The new netbook also has the same trackpad with the mouse buttons on either side and a scroll area on the right side. We found that while disconcerting at first the button placement is easy to adjust to and then becomes second nature. HP kept a trackpad on/off toggle button above the trackpad for those times you use an external mouse. There is still a wireless on/off switch making it easy to enter flight mode. The lid retains the Macbook-like hinge behind the unit making the display sit lower than most netbooks.
Nice, big right shift key :)
Left side KB
Our comparison with the Mini-Note wouldn’t be complete if we neglected to mention what we found missing on the Mini 1000 and there are some key features not present. We told you about the higher resolution screen (1280×768) that the Mini-Note offered uniquely in the netbook world and it’s a shame that it’s no longer available. The Mini 1000 only offers the netbook standard resolution of 1024×600 which is adequate but the higher res would have been nice on that bigger screen. Another feature missing that might be important to some folks is the removal of the ExpressCard slot. It will now be necessary to use a USB modem for 3G connectivity with that option gone. The Mini 1000 also has no VGA out port but there is a new option to replace it. The maximum storage option of 60 GB is a far cry from the 120 GB available on the Mini-Note and we wish HP offered a larger drive option. The two biggest things missing from the Mini 1000 that were included on the Mini-Note will not be missed at all and that is the Via processor and the Windows Vista option. The Atom and Windows XP are much better options and the Mobile Internet Experience (MIE) option is pretty decent too.
The Mini 1000 has some new features and options that are worth mentioning. It’s definitely thinner and lighter than the Mini-Note which is very welcome. The bigger screen option is also a nice change for the better and we can’t emphasize how bright and vivid it displays. The flat glass bezel over that bigger screen is very welcome too. There is a new display port that requires an optional cable to connect to VGA monitors which won’t affect most people but may be a negative for those who do presentations. The Mini 1000 is intended for consumers so HP felt they could save the space of the VGA out port and thus the change. The new memory expansion slot for units configured with SSDs is a nice method to expand storage capacity. It’s the size of a sunken USB port and when the 2/ 4/ 8 GB memory card is inserted it fits flush with the case and is seen as an external volume. Speaking of expansion a nice change is the access panel on the bottom of the Mini 1000 which makes memory expansion very simple. The 3-cell battery fits here too. Lastly a nice option that is new and unique among netbooks is the docking solution. HP will offer a dock that will provide full desktop connectivity ports to extend the functionality of the Mini 1000. This dock will be available early next year, pricing not yet determined.
HP has moved the stereo speakers to just above the keyboard. It’s the metal grille that looks like a hinge and we are happy to report that the Mini 1000 plays audio just as loud as the Mini-Note did. The sound quality will not replace your home stereo but it’s easily as loud as any notebook you’ll run across.
Mobile Internet Experience (MIE)
As stated the Mini 1000 is available with two operating system options, Windows XP home and Linux. The Linux version is Ubuntu and HP has developed the Mobile Internet Experience (MIE) shell sitting on top of it to appeal to novice users. We played with the MIE for a good bit and we are impressed how decent the user experience is using it. Basically it is a home screen that provides easy access to the most common tasks that users will perform. The left of the screen is devoted to email access and you can read the most recent emails right on this screen. There is a little search box that provides multiple functions. Enter a search term and it opens the browser to present the results. Enter a URL in the search box and you are taken right to that web page. This browser is a Firefox-based version that works nice and easy. The home page also displays the thumbnails for the four most recently visited web pages for easy returning with one click.
MIE home screen
The MIE screen gives easy access to photos and the media player which worked as expected. The MIE was extremely snappy and well done and it’s easy to see how it is the way to go for novices. There is an easy way to add programs using the MIE that will only offer Linux programs that HP has certified as working with the device. Of course Linux folk can pretty much do what they want as the system is not overly restrictive. The Windows key on the keyboard is replaced by an HP key on the MIE models and pressing this key takes you straight to the MIE home key. The MIE functionality is very well done and even though what we used is an early prototype it worked fine. This version will not be available until January of next year as it’s still under development.
Pricing and availability
We saved the most critical information for last and that is the MSRP pricing. The entry level Windows XP model will run $399 and includes the 8 GB SSD, 512 MB of memory, 8.9-inch screen and WiFi (no Bluetooth). The top-of-the-line Windows XP model will run $499 and include 1 GB of memory, 60 GB hard drive, 10.2-inch display, WiFi, Bluetooth and the web cam. The $399 configuration listed above will only be $379 with Linux/ MIE instead of XP. The Windows XP version is available now and HP says it is shipping right away. The MIE version will be available in January.
The optional 6-cell battery and dock should be available in January or thereabouts but pricing has not been determined by HP. The 6-cell battery will be a wedge that fits on the bottom of the unit.
Vivienne Tam designer edition
The sexy red version was created for HP by designer Vivienne Tam and has a nice red and gold theme along with some attractive peonies on the lid. This version is the fully tricked out version spec-wise and will retail for $699. Hey, it will go with your $700 Vivienne Tam shoes. Here are some pics of the red jewel: