HP's new Mini 1000 and MIE Linux make netbooks fun again

We've been struggling to keep awake for the large majority of this year, as netbook after netbook lands in our laps with identical specs, form factors and general shoddiness. No longer. HP is giving the market a shot in the arm with its new "clutch-style" skinny form factors, polished Linux OS and aggressive price points -- even if the specs are about as boring as the Mini-Note 2133. As rumored, HP's new Mini 1000 netbook is ditching VIA and going the Atom route (1.6GHz N270, in case you hadn't guessed). Also new is an option for a 10.2-inch display, though it's a mere 1024 x 600 instead of the 1280 x 768 display on the 2133 -- for a bit cheaper you can get a 1024 x 600 8.9-inch display, but that would just be boring. HP is offering 512MB, 1GB and 2GB RAM configurations, though the XP option limits you to 1GB (thanks, Microsoft). For storage you can score a 60GB 4200 rpm HDD or your choice of a 8GB or 16GB SSD. If you go the SSD route there's also room for a 2, 4 or 8GB "HP Mini Mobile Drive," which is a regular USB drive that inserts all the way into a special slot for added integration. There's also an SD slot, VGA webcam, 802.11b/g, optional Bluetooth, Ethernet and dual USB plugs. Where things get extra interesting is in choice of OS. You can go the standard XP route, or for $20 less you can go for HP's brand new Ubuntu-based Linux "experience," MIE, which reminds us not just a little of HP's TouchSmart interface. The XP version is available today starting at $399, with a 10.2-inch version costing just a little bit more. The Vivienne Tam Edition, which brings a whole lot of style but little substance to the offering, will go for $699 in mid-December, and the MIE version will land in January for a mere $379.