Hewlett-Packard can’t seem to stop pumping out netbooks, and its new Mini 5101 is the slickest version yet.
Festooned in brushed metal, the Mini 5101 flashes a sexy, Spartan design. We love the matte, full-sized keyboard — soft on the fingertips, but just firm enough for precision typing. The glossy trackpad is comfy, too, although it collects smudges quickly. Warning: Do not eat Ruffles while operating this machine.
Though the Mini 5101 has a smooth design, setup is a bit turbulent. The initial Windows XP setup took a pokey 45 minutes. And like any computer running XP, getting started is a little annoying with initial message boxes seeking validation for every task. Particularly with the Mini 5101, the McAfee anti-virus software is quite stupid: It attempts to block software such as Internet Explorer or Firefox from connecting to the internet unless you ask it not to. Come on guys, we’re big kids.
Performance for the Mini 5101 is solid. The machine cranked out roughly the same benchmark results as the Asus 1000HE, the fastest netbook we’ve tested this year. But the Mini 5101 fell behind Asus when it came to battery performance: four hours in our tests compared to the 1000HE’s impressive five-hour stamina. (Both netbooks ship with a six-cell battery.)
Speaking of video playback, the Mini 5101 comes equipped with the new Intel Atom N280 processor — a 1.66-GHz chip designed to deliver smoother video playback. That improvement is evident in Flash videos, but QuickTime files and YouTube clips played with more chop than an afternoon with Paul Bunyan.
In short, if a gadget’s looks matter to you (and to most geeks they do) as much as performance and usability, the Mini 5101 should suit you. But if you’re a big QuickTime fan, you might want to wait till Microsoft ships Windows 7, which promises superior video support.