Mini Me Makes The Cut: One Week with the HP 2140 Netbook

hp-mini-2140-netbookIt’s been a little over a week since I laid hands on my little HP netbook. I must say that the little device has caused me to reconsider some of my computing needs, but in general I’m happy to have it in my travels.

In the past weeks work in SFO I carried it around with me as I moved through my customers facility, essentially using it as an electronic notepad. In that role it’s outstanding. The battery life using the 6 cell battery at well over 7 hours, is superb. It boots and hibernates quickly. It’s light, quiet and unimposing.

hp2140One of my customers staff brought in his Asus EEE 1000H for comparison. They’re both nice little devices. He runs eBuntu while my HP 2140 runs XP Home. Both are superbly functional in the limited roles for which they were intended.

And it goes beyond note taking. This week I used Mini Me (yes, that’s his official name) to watch The Daily Show when Jon Stewart when interviewed CNBC’s Jim Cramer. What an interview…if you can call it that. Have you not seen it? Go, now. Watch it. You’ll be richer for the experience.

I also used it to listen to Randulo’s New Wine Consumer podcast late one evening. In this role, a media consumption device, I find that I often prefer it to my trusty HP 8510p notebook. That’s unexpected, but true.

Watching low resolution video full screen on the netbook is more appearling that watching a window on the 15″ laptop display. Of course, going full screen mode on the laptop (1680 x 1050 px) just makes the video quality look bad. It actually degrades the viewing experience.

It was a little strange to be setup in my hotel room in the SFO Hilton with my laptop and the 2140 both glowing on into the evening. The free wifi had the advantage of not minding if I logged into it with both systems.

Further, I find that I don’t mind writing on the wee HP. The keyboard may not be full size but it feels good and I’m becoming accustomed to it for blogging. The one thing that takes some adjustment is the use of the fn key to access the pg up, pg dn, home and end functions…which all appear mapped onto the arrow keys.

For the moment I’m using the MS Office 2008 trial that came pre-installed. I seriously doubt that I’ll pay for that license. I loaded a few programs including Eyebeam, Skype, EditPad, Avast, Firefox and Twhirl. I didn’t load Photoshop, Illustrator or ThumbsPlus, which are programs best suited to my larger laptop.

I would have like to have tried making VoIP calls from MiniMe, either via Eyebeam/OnSIP or Skype, but the free wifi at the Hilton was just not VoIP capable. Pity that. I had two Plantronics headsets with me, the .Audio 480 analog earbuds and the .Audio 615m USB headset. Both appear to work well with the little netbook, but I’ll reserve detailed commentary for later when I’ve made more calls using this hardware combination.

The display resolution is a little smallish vertically (576 pixel), but I usually don’t see that as a problem. I find myself using F11 to switch Firefox to full-screen mode a lot. Also using <ctrl> B to show/hide the bookmarks panel on an as-needed basis.

The display is bright and sharp, but the glossy finish is a bit of a drag. I’m not at all certain why glossy displays are in vogue at the moment. They always suffer some kind of glare in any typical office setting.

hp-mini-2140-used-inflightWhat’s gradually becoming more obvious to me is the division of labour between the netbook and the larger laptop. The netbook could never replace my laptop as I’m in the graphics business and often need the increased screen real estate, CPU power, memory and storage that the laptop provides. But for many tasks, typically online tasks, the netbook is enough.

When seated in a coach class airline seat it simply can’t be beat for getting things done in-flight. The photo, above right, was taken with the camera in the cell phone while on a Continental flight from SFO to IAH.

I’ll probably describe my adventures with the little 2140 a little more as I continue to work it into my routine.