Just when you thought you were safe from the netbook horde
, along comes HP's new Mini 5101 to tempt you with the same basic specs once again, but this time with a slick aluminum and magnesium chassis to appeal to the "mobile professional" or anyone else with a bit of class. In a crazy twist, HP has finally
moved the mouse buttons below the trackpad (because only professionals like clicking), and has included other perks like a 7200 RPM hard drive, Bluetooth 2.0, 2 megapixel webcam, and options of either a WSVGA (1024 x 600) or "HD" (1366 x 768) 10.1-inch LED screen. There are also options for 80GB or 128GB SSD drives, four-cell or six-cell batteries, with the latter rated at an improbable eight hours of runtime, and of course WWAN. There's a start price of $449, but with some of these options we could see that shooting up pretty fast -- especially if you pick the optional USB-powered external disc drive, external speakers or port replicator. It's not cheap being cheap. The Mini 5101 goes on sale in July.
HP Mini 5101 press shots
We got a quick hands-on with the netbook, and were fairly impressed. The square chiclet keys are much easier to hunt down than Mini 1000-series flush keys, and the proper trackpad configuration is naturally a huge bonus. We'd much prefer multitouch scrolling to the side-scrolling action, of course, but at least it's an improvement. The overall build quality is near the top of any laptop or netbook we've played with in this price range -- it's not perfect, and there's some of that telltale keyboard flex, but it's a big improvement over its largely plastic competitors and predecessor.
HP Mini 5101 hands-on shots