Truth be told, we liked the Mini 210's not-too-glossy design when we reviewed it
last year, but compared to the latest generation, it manages to look frumpy. The made-over version
(starting at $299) has a shimmering paint job that's almost metallic, but since the 210 is still made of plastic, it feels light in the hands -- as a netbook should. And oh, the colors! We'd be lying if we said the palette didn't help sell us on the design. (It's just too bad that all but the charcoal gray model will set you back an extra $30). Even more than our sweet spot for turquoise, what makes these color options appealing is that HP committed
to them. Lift the lid, and you'll see the color extending onto the palm rest, above the keyboard, and even between the keys. The 210 also has a flat bottom with a larger, six-cell battery inside, and it's because of this flush battery that HP was able to paint the area near the hinge, as opposed to letting the battery stick out. Throw in the edge-to-edge 10.1-inch display and flush touchpad, and you've got a design that feels seamless, minimalistic.
That continuity -- even more than the metallic finish -- is what makes the Mini 210 look like a high-end laptop, cut down to size. In fact, the Mini 210 borrows design elements you might recognize from the company's premium Envy
line -- namely, rounded edges, scooping around the keyboard area, and Beats audio
-- a surprise feature in a category that doesn't usually offer much in the way of rich sound. As for the keyboard, HP's stuck to a chiclet layout that's served it well in the past. In our brief hands-on, the panel felt sturdy, and we made few typing errors. The buttons, meanwhile, felt tactile, though we'll have to spend more time with it to gauge how well HP fixed the trackpad issues afflicting last year's model. We hope to do just that before it ships in mid-June, but until then take a peek at the gallery of close-up shots below, along with the video tour after the break.
HP Mini 210 hands-on!