One of the better netbooks that money can buy is the HP Mini 2140, a brushed-metal system from HP's business line that's a cousin to the consumer-focused Mini 1000. The revamped, and actually quite different, 10.1-inch Mini 5101 trades the silver metal look, with a slight curve to the lid, for a more squared-off design in black brushed aluminium. It's a slick-looking machine.
We liked the 2140 for its solid construction and high-end extras, such as an ExpressCard slot. The 5101 loses the ExpressCard slot, but adds a default 7,200rpm hard drive and an optional, higher-resolution 1,366x768-pixel display. An optional, integrated, Gobi-powered HP Mobile Broadband module will also be offered, along with some custom syncing software for organising files between desktop PCs and netbooks. HP has promised us that it will work better than the broken version of the same software found in the recent Mini 110.
We're slightly concerned about the 5101's keyboard -- one of our favourite features on previous models. The wide, flat, closely spaced keys of previous Minis have been tweaked to look and feel more like the keys on a MacBook or Sony Vaio laptop, with a good amount of space between them. We'll have to play around with the system to decide if we like the new layout better. One positive change is that the touchpad's mouse buttons have been moved to a more traditional spot below the touchpad, rather than on either side.
The HP Mini 5101 is expected to be available in the US in late July, starting at around $450 (£270) . It's also due for a UK release sometime in July, but there's been no word on pricing yet.