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HP follows Mini-Note with another great little machine

Hewlett-Packard’s newly released Mini 1000 netbook is a stylish little number. The first thing I noticed about it was the swirl pattern design on the lid, and when picking it up, its lightness.

HP launched a similar machine, the 2133 Mini-Note PC — aimed at business users — earlier this year. The 2133 has a brushed aluminium coating and comes with either a 120GB or 160GB hard drive. The design of the new, consumer-focused 1000 is nearly identical to the 2133, but the plastic casing makes it slightly lighter; weighing in at just over 1kg. The 1000 is also a bit slimmer, but has kept the round-cornered design.

There are differences under the hood too — my review unit has a 60GB hard drive, but buyers can also opt for a 8GB solid state drive. The single-core C7-M processors from Taiwan-based Via Technologies, which power the 2133, has been swapped for Intel Atom N270 1.6GHz processors for the 1000.

One of the main advantages of the Mini 1000 is its large keyboard, which HP claims is 92% of the size of a full-size laptop keyboard. The keys are bigger than on your average netbook, making the machine quite comfortable to type on.

The mouse pad is slightly elongated, with the click buttons placed on either side of the pad. It takes a little bit of getting used to, but if the rectangular touchpad is the price for having the bigger keyboard, it is worth paying. There is an on-off switch for the touchpad, sitting just above it, which is useful when typing.

HP has managed to squeeze in an impressive 10-inch LCD display — with a 1,024 by 600-pixel native resolution — which is covered by glass, edge-to-edge. This makes it look shiny, but also contributes to a high reflection-factor. The machine has a built-in webcam for video-conferencing and snapshots. The speakers are located in the hinge between the body and the lid, again saving room for the keyboard and the screen.

Interestingly, there is a slot for a 3G SIM card in the battery compartment of the machine. This is very exciting, but unfortunately, the 3G feature is not working in New Zealand yet. The reason being that Vodafone currently doesn’t support “Minis” on its network, says an HP spokesperson. Some users in the US claim to have got 3G going by slotting a SIM card in, so hopefully, we will be able to do the same here soon.

The Mini 1000 ships with Windows XP Home Edition.

Also worth mentioning is that the 1000 automatically detects wireless networks. It also has Bluetooth capability. Both of these features can be switched off. It has two USB ports, a SD and Multimedia card reader and a combined headphone/microphone jack.

Recommended retail price for the 60GB Mini 1000 is $899. The 8GB SSD option carries a RRP of $949.

For those of you out there who are already thinking about Valentine’s gifts, you might want to skip buying the black Mini 1000 for someone for Christmas, and instead go for the limited Vivienne Tam edition, which will reach our shores just in time for Valentine’s Day.

The red, peony-flower inspired version reflects the fashion designer’s 2009 collection. The netbook was reportedly mistaken for a clutch bag when it was unveiled on the runways of New York.