HP Mini 210 review
- Compact, stylish design
- Non-glossy lid
- Comfortable, chiclet keyboard
- HD performance less than stellar
- Flaky touchpad
- Too much preloaded software
Look and feel
The three-pound system not only feels solid, but its inch-thin body is quite slender. The three-cell battery option fits flush with the system, but the six-cell battery adds an extra half an inch in the back. Unlike previous HP Minis, the Mini 210 has all the necessary netbook ports, including three USBs, VGA, Ethernet, SD card and a headphone jack.
Keyboard, touchpad and display
Unfortunately we don't have the same positivity when it comes to the Mini 210's touchpad. We're happy that HP finally got rid of the vertical mouse buttons, we just wish they hadn't integrated them into the entire pad itself. The ClickPad, as HP calls it, is similar to the one we saw on the HP Envys, and though the software has been updated it's still hair-pulling frustrating at times. Because the pad has integrated buttons and supports multitouch gestures, the ClickPad has a hard time distinguishing between finger placement on the buttons and on the pad itself. The result is a lot of mistaken zooming when you just want to drag something across the screen. We get that HP has been trying to trying to emulate Apple's touchpads, but the software and two button combo just hasn't been working for them. This isn't to say it isn't usable – we ended up just tapping to make selections -- but that doesn't mean we think this is forgivable. And the fact that HP included a $24 matching mouse with our review unit tells us it's likely aware of the problem.
The Mini 210's 10.1-inch screen's flush bezel makes the 1366 x 768 resolution display look higher class than most other netbooks, but while colors look bright and the extra pixels make 720p content look crisp, the glossy coating is extremely reflective. Vertical viewing angles good enough when the screen was tilted back, but horizontal viewing angles were quite horrendous. Sharing this screen with a friend while laying in bed required a fair amount of moving on our part.
Performance, HD playback and battery life
|HP Mini 210||1393||147||5:15|
|Dell Mini 10||1264||132||5:58|
|ASUS Eee PC 1005PE||1431||157||8:10|
|Toshiba Mini NB305||1272||156||6:30|
The HP Mini 210, like the Dell Mini 10 (here's an idea: everyone name their netbooks the same thing!) can be configured with a $35 Broadcom's BCM70012 Crystal HD accelerator -- it's a slightly older model than the Dell's BCM70015. Released just yesterday, Flash 10.1 Beta 3 was optimized to support the Broadcom card, and the Mini 210 definitely reaps some of the benefits of it, but that's only after you download it from Adobe's site and then update the Broadcom drivers. When that was all said and done, the Mini 210 didn't have any issues playing back a 720p Avatar trailer on YouTube, but unlike the Dell Mini 10 it had issues going up to the 1080p setting. The video proof is below, but according to Broadcom the issues have to do with Flash 10.1 Beta 3's compatibility with the older version of the card. Though that's a bummer, we assume most will be content with the 720p playback considering the screen resolution and the Pineview chipset's lack of HDMI support. We should also note that Flash videos played much better in Google Chrome -- we got a few "Not Responding" errors in Firefox.
As we learned with the Dell Mini 10, playing local HD content is highly dependent on software. A downloaded 1080p Iron Man 2 trailer played back without pauses in the preloaded ArcSoft TotalMedia Theatre software, but playback of that same video was choppier in Windows Media Player 11 and VLC Player. There's no doubt in our minds that the HD playback experience on the Mini 210 is miles ahead of that of a Pine Trail netbook without Broadcom inside and that counts for something. However, we have to say that it isn't as seamless as it need to be for the end user and the solution continues to have more restrictions than NVIDIA Ion-based netbooks.
The good news is that if you do manage to get some HD videos to play, the HP Mini 210's six-cell battery will let you watch about two movies without having to dig around for an outlet. When looping the same HD video the Mini 210 lasted for four hours and 45 minutes, and a longer five hours and 15 minutes when tested with a standard-def video. That's not as long as other netbooks we've tested, but when we used the netbook to write this masterful review and listen to some tunes we got close to seven hours of runtime. Given that the three-cell battery got a disappointing 2 and 15 minutes of juice on our video loop test, going with the six-cell seems like a no brainer.
Despite our hesitations about instant-on OSes, HP has done a nice job with its HP QuickWeb -- we like the three panels one of which can pull in e-mail. HP's also preloaded the netbook with its MediaStream software that streams media from one PC to the netbook, and its CloudDrive that provides 2GB of storage to allow for easily transferring files to the mini-laptop. On the other hand, the HP Support Assistant software couldn't be any more annoying with constant pop-ups. No, we do not need your help!